Today, we’ll discuss the 6 best Spring Reverb plugins you can find in 2021! We’ll also find out what is a spring reverb, how it works and sounds like, and when to use it in your mix.
- 1 What Is Spring Reverb?
- 2 How Does Spring Reverb Work?
- 3 What Does Spring Reverb Sound Like?
- 4 Why And When To Use Spring Reverb?
- 5 The 6 Best Spring Reverb VST Plugins 2020
What Is Spring Reverb?
Spring reverb is an artificial electro-mechanical reverb. The concept of this reverb is around since the 1930s but started production in 1960. Guitar amplifiers commonly use this because it is tiny and inexpensive to make. Many experienced sound engineers still consider it an essential part of their studio equipment.
How Does Spring Reverb Work?
Spring reverb consists of a metal tank in which multiple metallic springs are held under tension. Electric transducers are present on both the input and output of the device. Sound in the form of an electrical signal is fed to the transducer at the input side, responsible for creating vibrations in the springs.
The transducer on the output is responsible for converting the movement of springs back into an electrical signal. This process of vibrating springs in a metallic tank adds reverb-like tails to the original signal, giving us the illusion of space.
What Does Spring Reverb Sound Like?
The sound of this reverb depends mainly on the length, thickness, and tension of the springs. The longer the spring, the longer the reverb time. So, these modules have multiple springs having different properties for having multiple reverb times and sounds.
Spring reverb is used widely in electric guitar-oriented songs. Have a favorite rock, blues, or reggae song? Chances are spring reverb was used in the music. Spring reverb has a very familiar metallic and tinny sound character and consists of a lot of desirable feedback.
Why And When To Use Spring Reverb?
We can use spring reverb in just about any case. Yes! It is that versatile, but here are some of the ideal scenarios. Use it When you’re looking for a dark, abrasive mix.
The reason a lot of rock songs use it is because of its gritty, dark tone.
- When the snare is not cutting through the mix.
- For adding space to an elegant and uptight digital synth sound.
- When you’re looking for gritty and more present vocals.
The 6 Best Spring Reverb VST Plugins 2020
1. Aegean Music Spirit Reverb Review
“Spirit Reverb” by Aegean music is a very authentic spring reverb simulation plugin. Although it offers digital reverbs, it has a dedicated section for spring reverb. It gives complete control over the desired sound effects. Using a different number of springs and changing the springs’ length in the simulation, we can alter the spring reverb’s tones and textures.
In addition to its reverb effects, it also has a tube pre-amp section responsible for exciting the sound by introducing harmonics based on the input signal’s fundamental frequency to give it a more vintage and organic feel.
It also has a parametric equalizer that can be used either on the total wet and dry signal or the wet signal only.
- It has seven reverb types, i.e., Classic Spring, Bright Spring, Exaggerated, Exaggerated Low, Echoing, Digital, and Cosmic
- Stereo spreading is an impressive feature that can add more space and dimension to the sound and can be controlled by the stereo width knob
- The feedback knob controls the reverb length. It is a desirable feature as real spring reverbs do not have very long tails, so we can set a short feedback time in that case. On the contrary, we can have higher settings for digital reverbs
- It has three audio processing modes: Mono, Stereo, and Mono to Stereo
- Midi assignment is possible, so controlling the different parameters from the faders or knobs of a control surface is possible
- As spring reverbs have a natural pre-delay, the pre-delay can not be totally eradicated but can be reduced up to a limit and dramatically increased using the “Pre-Delay” knob
“Spirit Reverb” by Aegean music supports 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Microsoft Windows 7 and above. macOS version 10.10 to 10.13 are supported. It comes in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
2. GSi TimeVerb-X Review
TimeVerb-X by GSi, released in February 2020, combines a spring reverb simulation and a digital reverb in one plugin. The spring reverb modules of this plugin are based on its predecessor, “Type4,” which was inspired by the reverb modules used in the A100 series Hammond organs.
As it consists of both spring reverb simulations and a digital reverb, it is worth noting that we can use both of them separately, parallel or in serial.
Two main sections divide the graphical user interface.
- Main Section:
The main section is divided into two parts. The upper portion with orange knobs is for controlling the spring reverb. The lower portion with blue knobs is for controlling the digital reverb.
- Bottom Section:
The bottom section consists of the audio mixer with VU meters and a button for toggling different routing options.
- TimeVerb-X offers the following four EQ filters for reverbs,
The high pass and low pass work only with the spring reverb. The high pass filter acts on the signal before it enters the reverb module to roll off the excess low end before it enters the reverb. The low pass filter works on the signal after the reverb to control the reverb sound’s harshness.
High shelf and low shelf work only for the digital reverb and act before the signal enters the reverb.
All of the above EQ parameters can be controlled by knobs on the interface.
- We can control the reverb length and sound character by using the decay and damp knobs, respectively
- It is possible to change the material of the simulated springs by merely turning the timbre knob
- The dispersion knob controls the classic spring reverb “boing” sound
- We can use the stereo width knob to enhance the space in a stereo environment further.
- The mixer section allows us to choose between three routing options
- Spring into Digital
- Spring plus Digital
- Digital into Spring
- Different reverb levels can be adjusted along with the dry signal.
TimeVerb-X is available for 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 or above in VST2, VST3 formats, and a standalone app. It is also available for 64-bit macOS 10.11 or above in VST2, VST3, Audio Units formats, and a standalone app.
3. AudioThing Springs Review
Springs by AudioThing offers multiple vintage spring reverbs simulations ranging from a tiny single-spring battery-powered to a long 6-spring pipe unit. AudioThing claims to have used a combination of convolution and simulation to rebuild these vintage reverbs’ character.
Tone stacks from guitar amps had dedicated spring reverb units. So, in addition to the spring reverb emulation, AudioThing decided to pair a unique sounding and famous tone stack EQ: Baxandall EQ with it. The classic Baxandall EQ only has the low and high band controls, but AudioThing has also featured a mid-frequency control with adjustable Q.
Baxandall EQ is a very interesting choice because the bands of this EQ interact with each other. This is a very unwanted behavior in many mixing scenarios, but this is also one reason why its curves are so smooth and musical.
Four sections divide the graphical user interface of this plugin.
- Top Section
We can select and scroll through different presets using the top section. It gives us the option to save/delete custom presets and to bypass the plugin.
- Left Section
The left section gives us control over the input signal before any processing is applied. We can also control the wet/dry signal mix using this section.
- Middle Section
The middle section is where the actual spring reverb emulation lies. It gives us the option to choose between 11 different spring reverb emulations having one to six springs. This section is responsible for the main character of the spring reverb sound.
- Right Section
The right section consists of an analog EQ simulation based on a famous tone stack.
Peter Baxandall designed a tone circuit in the 1950s known as the Baxandall EQ, and since then, it has been widely used in stereo players and guitar amplifiers, etc.
AudioThing has created a hybrid Baxandall EQ by introducing a mid-band control with adjustable Q.
- Springs offers eight vintages reverbs modeled after the following hardware
- Springs offers eleven reverb simulation
- We have the option to choose from fifty unique presets
- A large VU meter is available for monitoring the input level
- Bandwidth control is the combination of low-pass and high-pass filters. We can choose to eliminate the high or low frequencies on which we do not want the reverb to act
- The input and drive knobs can control the input level and harmonic distortion of the signal, respectively
- We can lock any parameter in place just by right-clicking on the specific parameter. If a parameter is locked and we change a preset, the locked parameter value will not be altered
- Pre-delay can be controlled using the pre-delay knob
- The plugin is resizeable. Although it may seem like a feature not worth mentioning, many developers often overlook this feature that many sound engineers praise
- A simple emphasis knob controls the presence of the reverb
- Springs also offers a built-in compressor
- The hybrid Baxandall EQ is an exciting feature. We can use it to alter the mixed sound or the wet signal but not the dry signal
AudioThing Springs is available for 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 or above in VST2, VST3, and AAX formats. It is also available for 64-bit macOS 10.7 to 10.15 in VST2, VST3, Audio Unit, and AAX formats.
4. u-he Twangström Review
Twangström by u-he released in 2019, is modeled after three different hardware spring reverb units found in standard guitar amplifiers. It offers some additional features to adjust the simulated reverb’s color, tone, and overall sound characteristics.
U-he initially had a single reverb unit in its Bazille synth modulator plugin. Many users were requesting a dedicated reverb, and that is when u-he decided to implement Twangström.
Three sections divide the Twangström:
- Control Bar
The control bar consists of some standard controls such as bypass, undo/redo, display, presets selection menu, and midi configuration.
- Central Panel
The central panel offers control over most of this plugin’s main parameters, such as input/output parameters, filter parameters, reverb tank controls, and amp modulation.
- Lower Panel
The lower panel gives us control over the enveloper and the low-frequency oscillator.
- It offers hundreds of fantastic reverb presets
- We can assign plugin parameter controls to midi control surfaces
- Using the input and drive knobs, we can introduce distortion in the signal to cause saturation
- The tone knob acts as a tilt filter to enhance or dampen the frequencies at either end of the spectrum
- We can combine a multimode filter with the spring reverb to create some interesting sounds and textures
- It emulates a two spring tank loosely based on the ones found in old Fender amplifiers and two variants of three spring tanks inspired by some Marshal amps
- We can control the length of the reverb tail by using the decay knob
- The width knob controls the stereo image of the reverb
- It offers a limiter to limit the output to 0dBfs
- Similarly to the input knob, the output knob can introduce harmonic distortion by pushing the signal to limits while the soft clip limiter is engaged
- Enveloper can be invoked by using internal control signals or by a sidechain signal
- It features also low-frequency oscillator
It is available for 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows 7 or above in VST2, VST3, and AAX formats. It is also available for 32-bit and 64-bit macOS 10.7 or above in VST2, VST3, and AAX formats.
5. Eventide Spring Review
Spring by Eventide, released in January 2020, offers the classical sound of spring reverb modules found in your typical guitar amplifiers, as well as some interesting digital sound modulations that wouldn’t be possible with the actual hardware reverb module.
Three sections divide the plugin’s user interface.
- Top Section
The top section gives us control over the selection of factory presets, the option to save our custom presets, compare A/B, lock the interface to avoid further changes by mistake, and a helpful help section.
- Middle section
The middle section gives us control over the reverb’s different parameters to achieve our required reverb sound by fiddling with these multiple parameters. We have the option to alter the reverb modulation physically beyond the limitations of a real spring reverb unit.
The lower portion of this section gives us control over the tremolo effect on the reverb and allows us the set the tempo of our reverb.
- Bottom section
The bottom section allows us to bypass the plugin, smoothly transition between two sound presets, or set the tempo manually.
- We can view the reverb input and output volume levels using the level meters on both ends of the plugin
- The input level can be controlled by the fader on the left side of the plugin. Note that this maintains the input level for both the dry and wet signals
- “Verb Mix” knob controls the wet/dry mix of the signals
- We can control the reverb’s output level by the fader on the right side of the plugin. Note that this influences the output level after the “Verb Mix” knob
- In and out volume levels can be controlled from -60dBfs to +12dBfs
- We can control the reverb length by using the decay knob. The decay control can either be in milliseconds or note-based if the tempo selection is set to sync or manual mode
- The tension knob physically alters the spring tensions of the simulated springs to change the reverb’s character
- The “num springs” knob changes the number of springs in the tank simulation from 1 to 3 springs. Note that the change can be in decimals as well, e.g., 2.2 springs are a possibility in this plugin, which wouldn’t have been possible in a real reverb tank
- We can control the reverb’s low boomy nature or the high shrillness using the low and high damping knobs to adjust the damping frequencies
- The “Tank” button allows us to toggle between a small or large reverb tank simulation so we can alter the overall reverb resonance
- We can control the tremolo feature and set it on the dry signal before or after the reverb effects using the “Tremolo” button. The “Intensity” knob controls the tremolo’s intensity while the “Speed” knob controls the speed of the result either in Hz or note based
- A beautiful chorus effect can be added and controlled using the “Mod Level” knob
- We can adjust the amount of the metallic spring resonance by using the “Resonance” knob
- Spring offers three tremolo modes, and they have different effects on the various parameters of the reverb. When it is set to off, the tremolo speed is controlled in Hz, and the decay is controlled in milliseconds. When the sync mode is initiated, the decay and tremolo speed are synced to the DAW’s tempo. In manual mode, we can set decay and tremolo speed manually
- We can program the ribbon to have two different settings on both ends, so just by sliding the ribbon, we can transition seamlessly between these settings in real-time. So basically, we are able to control multiple knobs by using one slider
- “Hotswitch” is like an A/B presets mode. We can switch between two reverb settings at the press of a button.
- By tapping on the “Tap” button, we can adjust the tempo manually
It is the only plugin in this article that is supported by iOS devices. For iOS, it is available as an AU v3, Inter-app audio, and a standalone app. For Windows and Mac, it is available in VST, AU, and AAX formats.
6. Physical Audio PA4 (Mac Only) Review
PA4 by Physical Audio released in November 2018 is a spring reverb plugin modeled after the classic dual-spring reverb units present in many guitar amps.
The user interface is sleek and simple yet gives control over some parameters that many simulations ignore, such as the iconic “boing” spring character.
“Physical Audio” has gone overboard in the modeling game and has extensively researched how a spring sounds the way it sounds and has interestingly published a paper on it. Here’s a link to it if you’re into such kind of technical things.
- We can adjust the simulated tank size and reverb resonance by using the “Echo Time” and “Echo Spread” knobs
- Using the “Chirp Cutoff” knob, we can adjust the highest frequency at which the springs can vibrate
- The classic “boing” character of the springs in this emulation is adjustable. The “Boing” knob acts as a de-esser on the sharp frequencies of the springs
- We can control the wetness of our signal by using the “Spring Levels” knob
- By adjusting the “Input Level” knob, we can control the input level
- We can emulate more space by adjusting the “Spring Offsets” knob
- The three faders on the plugin’s right can separately adjust the low, mid, and high decay response. These faders will only affect the sound up to the “Chirp Cutoff” knob’s cutoff frequency
- We can control the mid and high-frequency decay by using the “Shimmer” fader. Note that this affects the whole frequency spectrum
It is only available for mac in Audio Units format.
Pedro Nascente is an artist, record producer, and mix engineer, currently operating his own studio and working with his band, Yellow Boulevard. Believing that music should convey experiences and feelings, Pedro is known for applying design thinking to his workflow to achieve different sounds and deliver the right messages.