PSP Audioware SpringBox – Retro Rocket
Hi, welcome to Music Nation. This time we’re looking at PSP Audioware SpringBox, a traditional moving coil-type spring reverb VST emulation. This type of effect is well known for its use on guitar amps but there are also many creative uses for it in the modern recording studio.
(Review updated July 2022) There are plugins that don’t need to be exciting or groundbreaking, they just need to do the job well. Reverbs are among the most popular effects used in music production so a simple, well designed and great-sounding spring type is music to my ears. I have always enjoyed reviewing PSP Audioware products so I am expecting this to be no different.
Let’s check it out.
PSP Audioware SpringBox is a fairly simple concept enhanced with a couple of neat tricks, but nothing to make the device any more complicated to use.
Going over the interface on the input side you have a choice from two separate modules. Each is the same, allowing you to set up a pair of alternative mixes, maybe something for the solo section in your arrangements or the like.
Each input has a basic high and low pass filter plus a mid-range presence boost. A pair of larger dials control the delay time and input trim level. The input trim affects only the processing level, not the dry, so great for boosting the processing levels for quieter sources.
In the centre of the device is the internal process routing. You can select between mono-to-stereo or full stereo-to-stereo processing, each with a standard and slightly wider boosted option.
Finally, the output section features dry, wet and pan controls as you might expect, plus a stereo spread dial and diffusion amount. The diffusion, spread and pan controls only affect the processed signal not the dry, allowing for some interesting setups and automation possibilities.
In the Studio
A spring reverb is a very simplistic device and PSP Audioware has opted to keep with the traditional design by not throwing in any extra synthesis or crazy modulation controls.
This is a good decision as every engineer needs in their collection a choice of solid and reliable reverbs that just do the basics well.
SpringBox has a very distinctive tone that naturally works best on retro-type recordings if you intend the effect to be heard. On a solo sax or guitar, this is a perfect marriage for that cool 50s rockabilly sound. The effect is not as aggressive as Nexellence, the metallic ping side effects being less prominent on high dynamic range instruments, even when pushed hard.
SpringBox, on the whole, is more subtle than you might expect from the original hardware. You can drive the input processing signal harder, but even then the effect never feels like it’s out of control or even feeding back.
One of the nice characteristics of spring reverbs, and in particular, with SpringBox, is the ability to tie multiple instruments together into the same environment.
Applying a touch of SpringBox to each track in a rock band mix adds a surprising amount of glue, and in a weird way applies a sort of compression. The reverb effect fills in the cracks and smooths out your tracks, making them more likely to gel together as a mix. It’s subtle, but enough especially if you’re trying to limit the amount of dynamic processing and achieve a more natural room compression.
Performance-wise, SpringBox has a negligible impact on DSP. The UI does, however, show its age with no option to resize making it look positively tiny on our widescreen monitor. The oversized Bakelite-style knobs are easy to operate so I didn’t have any issues controlling the device.
Of course, there are many applications for a spring reverb effect and as mentioned it is important to have at least one in your toolbox somewhere.
PSP SpringBox is a simple, no-frills device with an authentic sound. The design is perfectly in keeping with the other devices in the PSP Audioware range, so there is a nice continuity when being used in the mix.
I particularly like the independent internal processing of the wet and dry signals and the dual input modules for setting up alternative mixes. Without meaning to sound reductive, SpringBox is difficult to criticise. It is a base-level plugin done well. Nothing too challenging to use with a dependable and predictable sound, which is exactly what I like.
PSP SpringBox is great value at $99, in addition to the company’s FETpressor, preQursor2 and Nexcellence effects, this is another fantastic device that should be included in every engineer’s basic toolkit.
For more information and to get the 14-day free trial, head over to www.pspaudioware.com