I was very excited when Softube told me about two of their new products they were working on, Spring Reverb and Tube Delay. First of all, I’m a delay-junkie. To me room equals delay, and I don’t care for most type of reverb, though I usually end up using one in my mixes nowadays. Second of all, this reverb was a spring reverb emulation, not another convolution one. Third of all, they were made by Softube!
I think Softube is perhaps one of the most overlooked plug-in developers today. They make great sounding stuff (their amp emulators Vintage Amp Room and Metal Amp Room are the only ones I use at the moment) and there seems to be a passion within the company to take things to the next level (Acoustic Feedback for instance). In case you haven’t tried any of their products, there’s at least a slight chance you have tried some other companies product that they’ve had something to do with. They have helped coding and porting on more products than you might think. The port of Flux Epure to TDM comes to mind.
Enough about the background! Let’s have a look at their two latest products!
The Tube Delay isn’t an emulation of one particular piece of gear, but the tube part is emulated after real tubes. The way it is constructed is a little different than other software delays you might be familiar with, so before we dig into the sound, let’s have a look at how to use it.
The GUI is cleaverly layed out, almost like two channels, with the green line showing the flow of the direct signal, and the red showing the delayed signal. They both begin with a drive knob each. The delay section features delay time (can be set to sync host or not) and feedback. As you can see on the picture, the direct and the delay both meet up in a mix knob and an EQ section.
I don’t know what Softube intended with this design, but for me it almost begs to be used as an insert directly on the track, instead of being used on an aux like I would normally set up a delay. You see, because of the drive knob, you can really grit up the direct signal. In fact, you could use it just to add some hair to the signal without using the delay at all. The delay can of course also be made rather hairy with the drive knob, and downright brutal with the help of the feedback. It’s obvious that Softube has borrowed from their ealier products for this one. In case you wonder, yes, you can make the weird tape delay effects by changing the delay in real time.
While Tube Delay isn’t an emulation of a tape delay (after all, it isn’t called ‘Tape Delay’), there’s something about it which begs to be compared to Massey’s tape delay emulation TD5, which I’ve been caught claiming several times being my favorite sounding delay. I think they’re both what I would call “gritty” delays, with the Softube one being able to be driven to the more brutal side. I still think I personally prefer the TD5 sound, but the Tube Delay can definitely hold it’s own. I think it’s a very worthy delay, grit monster, and hair-grower to complete your delay collection and you should check it out if you’re looking for a new delay.
The Softube Spring Reverb is made after the Accutronics Type 4 but have had additional features added to it. And beginning with features, Spring Reverb can shake it baby!
The shake feature is really awesome. In the olden days, people wouldn’t go to their favorite sample download website to get a thunder sound going in their session, instead they might use a spring reverb. Now you can stay away from those websites too if you want, even if you don’t have a spring reverb, just by using Spring Reverb.
The shake control is not the only feature. Softube actually lets you decide how many springs you want to use (one to three), as well as set how tensed they should be. This is the way to change the character of the reverb in Spring Reverb. You also have two knobs, one for bass and one for treble, to help further shape the sound. These two controls make out what Softube calls the tube simulation. It uses the same technology as the Amp Room products, and are, to my knowledge, the same as those on the Tube Delay.
So what’s the sound like? Dead gorgeous. Not a hint of pretty wimp-reverb at all. Take a walk down memory lane and use this on guitars, a little on bass or on an indian flute with confidence. Spring Reverb was just what we needed right now as we’ve been flooded with bright reverbs for years now. The only thing that’s wrong with them timing is that we’ll most likely see the spring reverb taken from Transfuser bundled with Pro Tools 8, which also is a lovely sounding reverb. But I think I’ll keep Spring Reverb around anyway. Even a reverb skeptic like myself can now without doubt insert two reverbs in a session as long as one of them is Spring Reverb. +1 for Softube!
Tube Delay is a unique delay that basically goes from warmth to brutal with the help of drive and feedback knobs. It’s design makes it interesting for use even practically without any delay at all, just to add some grit to the signal. While not a tape delay emulation, and while having a little different features, I still think it’s best compared to Massey TD5. Spring Reverb stands in contrast to almost every other reverb released in the last years in the RTAS/TDM format (at least those I can think of), and what’s even more important – it sounds great. It’s a completely different flavor than every other reverb I have and doesn’t really compete with the rest as much as it completes the collection. The shake feature is a huge bonus.