If you’ve been a reader for any amount of time, you probably know that I really like software that does “neat tricks,” cool things that help the product stand out from others. I’ve been working with Overloud SpringAge, digging into its possibilities with instruments especially to try to get at what makes it neat/appealing… To find its “neat tricks!”
I’ve been playing with it more and more today. I am in a little bit of a spot in that I can’t directly compare it to the clearest competition right now. My NFR ran out several months back on Softube’s Spring Reverb (which emulates a warm preamp driving an Accutronics Type 8 spring tank – the three spring model – if I am not mistaken). So even though I feel like Softube’s Spring Reverb and Overloud SpringAge are really the two “high end” spring reverb plugins which would merit direct competition, regrettably I can’t compare them directly right now! Nonetheless, from memory and from my clips of Softube’s Spring Reverb, I feel they’re on equal footing for sound quality. Softube makes great stuff, hard to fault them just on the grounds of the quality of their products. And they KNOW they make pricey plugins, so you can fault them for that if you want but they won’t care 😉 It’s a complement to be competing well with a Softube product for sound quality, no doubt. Plus, while Softube’s Spring Reverb emulates just one one reverb (though with all three springs you can blend in individually and some cool parameters of its own), Overloud SpringAge gives you three types.
Anyway. Overloud SpringAge is a good plugin. In a thread on KVR about the product, there is sort of a weird debate about the merits of spring reverb at all. I think that’s just silly. Someone may or may not like spring reverb, it’s fully subjective, regardless of the fact that a lot of great recordings have been made using it no one is forced to acknowledge its worth! But another clear fact is that 100% of people who don’t like spring reverb will not like a plugin designed to give you the sound of spring reverb. Not a mystery, haha. So the real question is how it sounds to the people who DO like spring reverb, and I think all the “debate” over whether spring reverb is itself worthwhile is just a red herring there.
I do like spring reverb, especially on instruments, and I think it sounds very nice indeed. The three different models sound very different, and the parameters that you can adjust allow you to go to a lot of different places sonically from those three starting points. Helping that versatility is the two-band parametric EQ. It’s got a bit of “flavor” to the EQ, it isn’t just a bog standard parametric (not that there’s anything wrong with a good, ordinary parametric EQ). The “Q” value knobs transition from a regular EQ width adjustment to making the EQs a low shelf and a high shelf when set fully to the extreme. I find that to be a very nice touch, useful for broadly dialing in the exact range within which you want the EQ to operate. You can turn the EQ section off entirely if you want and just use the Bright adjustment knob, which adds or reduces high frequencies from the selected model, but there’s a lot of power using them all together.
Add in the warm preamp that can overdrive for a nice sound and I think the whole package is very competitive, even unique. In addition to the more traditional spring reverb plugin controls like spring tension, etc., the “Boingy” adjustment is fantastic. The one thing which spring IRs in particular reeeaaallly bug me about is that there isn’t any way you can control how much “sprong” drippy sound there is affecting your transients. That is one of the things which keeps spring reverb from being useful in more situations, for example with more distorted applications. Being able to dial back the spring transient noise is another nice touch that I appreciate. Really, in general the sound quality is very high. The way that the preamp affects the signal is pleasant, with some harmonic distortion when driven and a little fattening up in some of the lower frequencies at higher settings, but generally subtle. As it ought to be.
About the preamp thing… For comparison, I didn’t like the way that Softube’s Tube Delay has this wild impact on the frequency response of any sound run through it (in fact that’s the one especially profound criticism I’ve ever felt any of the Softube products I tested really deserved – I have said before and I’ll repeat it, Softube makes good stuff). Overloud’s SpringAge doesn’t have nearly the same huge sonic difference with the preamp, it’s just a little bit of extra cool “warming” and some light grit to the sound without anything negative. If anyone has used the Bootsie freeware plugin “FerricTDS” which won the KVR Developer Challenge 2009, you’ll know what I’m talking about. FerricTDS 1.5 is available here. It just has a very cool “the sound you have, but a little nicer” thing going on in the preamp. I don’t feel forced to put SprinAge on a separate effects bus (or make use of REAPER’s wet/dry knob), it works just fine as an insert without drastically altering the sound. In fact I think that just its preamp section might be useful to some people without touching the reverb, it has a very analog character and might be what you’re looking for to fatten up a track, make it a little less pristine.
Somewhat related note: I was trying out GSi Type4 alongside it. Of course there is a big price difference between the inexpensive GSi product and the other, “major company” products, but nonetheless I think it stands up. I share the common tendency to root for an underdog, I guess, but still I think that any comparison is fair in software, and GSi’s effects sound very good to my ears.
GSi Type4 emulates an Accutronics Type 4 spring reverb tank, which I believe is the same tank that is called “AQTX” in Overloud SpringAge, though it is impossible to be sure since Accutronics makes a lot of different reverb tanks, at least three of which are very common in guitar amps and the only clues SpringAge gives are that it’s “AQTX” and the manual states that it is a “classic” spring reverb and works well with guitar. I own Type4 because I bought it the same day I bought the lovely GSi GS-201 Roland Tape Echo sim. Well, Type4 does sound pretty good! And it has a lot of parameters for adjustment, too.
Even though GSi Type 4 and Overloud SpringAge both have an apparent Accutronics reverb sim, Type4 is a very different sounding spring reverb than any of SpringAge’s models. I don’t think they cover much of the same ground. It’s kind of funny, you know, Accutronics is pretty much the spring reverb maker that has supplied major amp makers, so virtually every guitar spring reverb sound you’re familiar with on albums is an Accutronics spring reverb! GSi Type4 is emulating an Accutronics Type4 tank… Softube’s Spring Reverb has 3 springs, so a Type 8 maybe. I don’t know what the “AQTX” in Spring Age is, but it sounds pretty familiar, I’d guess a Type 4. But I don’t know for sure.
Anyway, it’s not a simple product, though it is straightforward to use. There is surely more to say about this. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them, I will do my best to answer, provide clips, etc. – try me and I’ll do what I can!
One thing I want to note: Overloud, in response to a few things, actually just recently changed their whole demo limitation thing. Very cool for a company to have their finger on the pulse of the community like that. Now it should be a lot easier for people to demo, without intrusive noise killing the nuances you’re listening for in trying to make a purchasing decision.