Source Audio True Spring Reverb
By Phil O'Keefe |
Source Audio True Spring Reverb
Is this the ultimate big wave surf machine?
by Phil O'Keefe
If there is any single effect that is closely associated with Surf music, it's got to be spring reverb. Surf guitar is typically drenched with it. And if there's a runner-up in the contest for most popular Surf music effect, then tremolo has to take the prize. For Surf, spring reverb and tremolo are must-have effects. But those effects are not only popular for Surf - lots of musicians love both reverb and tremolo, and you can find many classic examples of their use in a wide range of styles. Where would How Soon Is Now by the Smiths be without the iconic tremolo? Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah wouldn't be the same without the reverb on the guitar. Or how about Duane Eddy's Rebel Rouser, which used both effects? I could cite many other examples, but I'm sure you get the idea.
But which type of reverb and tremolo? That's a bigger question than many people realize - there's been several classic designs for both effects, each with its own characteristic sound, which makes the decision about which pedal to get even tricker. Do you prefer Opto, Bias or Harmonic tremolo? And which spring reverb - short spring or long, or maybe something that emulates the classic 6G15 reverb units from the early '60s? Well Source Audio doesn't think you should have to limit yourself to any one type of sound, and their True Spring Reverb pedal gives you all of those options and much more in a deceptively simple looking pedal.
What You Need To Know
- The Source Audio True Spring Reverb is deceptive. It's digital (with 24-bit converters and 56-bit DSP), but it really sounds analog. It looks simple, and if you want to approach it simply, it can be used that way, but under the hood it has many capabilities that are not readily apparent when looking at the controls.
- The True Spring Reverb is housed in a compact gray and black anodized aluminum case that measures 4.5" L x 2.75" W x 2" H. The pedal's graphics and logo (designed by Jamie Bulmer) are done in white silkscreen, and harken back to the logos used on some of the vintage amps that packed the effects that inspired the pedal.
- The True Spring can create two effects at once - reverb and tremolo - and each offers three main types, with Harmonic, Opto and Bias tremolo options, and Short, Long and Tank spring reverbs.
- There are two main modes of operation. You can use the True Spring Reverb as a normal stompbox, with real-time knob-based control over the various effects parameters. It can also operate in preset mode, where each of the three settings of the Effects Selector toggle switch in the center of the top panel can select a different preset; each of these can be user-configured and stored for later recall.
- There are four knobs on the True Spring Reverb pedal. Level controls the overall output volume of the pedal. The Mix knob adjusts the relative level of the dry and wet signals, with the 50/50 point being located at the 3 o'clock position on the knob.
- The Dwell knob adjusts the reverb intensity, or how hard it is being driven, while the Tone control lets you adjust the tone of the wet signal to taste.
- The Effects Selector toggle switch is also used to select between the effects options when running in the usual stompbox mode. Short is based on the classic Blackface style amp spring reverb, with a tighter reverb sound, relatively quick decay and smooth tails, while the Long option gives you a drippier sound with longer tails. The Tank option is the drippiest of all, with the sound being eerily reminiscent of the classic outboard reverb units.
- A pushbutton Control switch at the top of the pedal next to the power jack lets you use the Effect Selector toggle switch to pick which of the tremolo options you want to use - just hold the Control switch in while you adjust the toggle switch.
- The Short setting on the toggle switch gives you Opto tremolo that emulates the classic photocell type tremolo circuit, the Long position serves up Harmonic Tremolo (which splits the signal into high and low frequency ranges and alternately modulates them, creating a somewhat phaser-like tremolo effect) and the Tank setting calls up Bias Tremolo, which emulates tremolo circuits that modulate the bias of an amp's output tubes and gives the tremolo sound a slightly overdriven effect. The algorithms for all of these sounds are taken from the Source Audio Vertigo Tremolo pedal.
- The Control switch also lets you access alternative functions for the Dwell and Tone knobs so you can adjust the tremolo's Depth and Speed, respectively. Again, just hold the switch in while turning either of these knobs to make the adjustments to the tremolo.
- You'll also find the power jack located at the top of the pedal, as well as a mini USB jack and a 1/8" control input jack. This can be used with an optional Source Audio or third-party expression pedal
- The True Spring Reverb pedal comes with a Tap Tempo switch that is mounted in a separate housing. It's also available separately for $49.00 MSRP / $38.00 "street." The Tap Tempo switch lets you easily control the speed of the tremolo's undulations.
- The normally-open Tap Tempo switch is physically quite small - it measures only 2.5" L x 2.25" W x 2" H. It has both 1/8" and 1/4" output jacks, making it useful with a variety of pedals that can use external tap tempo switches, and not just Source Audio's pedals.
- Power for the True Spring Reverb is supplied by an included regulated 9V power supply, which uses industry-standard 2.1mm center negative plug wiring. While you can use your own power supply if you want, Source Audio advises caution since using the wrong type (especially an unregulated power supply) can damage the pedal. The True Spring Reverb draws 165mA.
- There is also a mini USB Type B port on the True Spring Reverb. This can be used to connect it to your PC or Mac for deep level editing using Source Audio's free Neuro Desktop Editor software, or to the optional Source Audio Neuro Hub.
- When paired with the Neuro Hub using the USB jack the True Spring Reverb's MIDI features become available. These include the ability to store and recall up to 128 presets, the ability to save multi-pedal presets (when used with other pedals from Source Audio), assignable external Expression control and Hot Hand 3 wireless control over any (or multiple) parameters, and the ability to sync the tremolo's speed to MIDI clock.
- The True Spring Reverb uses Source Audio's "Universal Bypass", which gives you the choice of either True Bypass or Buffered Bypass. A green LED illuminates when the pedal is active. From the factory, the pedal is set for True Bypass, but this can be changed; the buffered setting allows the reverb tails that fade out naturally, without cutting them off abruptly when you bypass the pedal.
- The I/O is mounted on the sides of the pedal, and there are two 1/4" inputs and two 1/4" output jacks. The True Spring's I/O can be configured and used in a wide variety of ways, including mono in / out, mono in / stereo out, stereo in / out, stereo sum to mono and external loop.
- By default, the pedal's I/O auto-detects and configures itself, depending on what and how you plug everything into it. Want basic mono I/O? Connect your guitar to Input 1, and Output 1 to your amp and rock out. Want to add a second amp for stereo? Connect it to Output 2 and you're good to go. Use both inputs and outputs simultaneously and it automatically adjusts for true stereo operation. Simple and easy.
- Another cool feature is the ability to use Output 2 and Input 2 as an external pre-effects loop for wiring in an external effect (or a chain of effects) that is bypassed and activated whenever you turn the True Spring on and off.
- You can also manually set the I/O in various different ways using the free Neuro Desktop Editor (which can be downloaded directly from Source Audio's website) or using their free Neuro Mobile App.
- Source Audio's Neuro Mobile App and Desktop Editor software programs open up all kinds of very cool and very powerful deep-level editing options for the True Spring Reverb pedal. Available through Google Play (Android) and iOS (Apple App Store) the Neuro Mobile app lets smartphone users access these features by connecting the output of their phone's headphone jack to Input 2 on the pedal using an included cable.
- What kind of things can you do with the editors? In addition to controlling all of the previously mentioned controls and functions, you can also call up alternative types of sounds for the spring reverb "engine", such as Hall, Trash Can Spring, Tiny Tank and Drip Machine, as well as change he virtual spring size. You can also change the pre-delay for the reverb, as well as the reverb's diffusion.
- You can set the time division for the tap tempo. You get the usual values, including the default quarter note as well as eighth note, dotted eighth, triplet and sixteenth note values.
- You can also re-assign the knobs to control different functions, and set minimum and maximum value ranges for them.
- You can even use the software to adjust what feeds the tremolo - the dry signal, or the reverb's Wet / Dry Mix control. You can also control each effect's stereo offset - letting you put the tremolo and reverb more towards one side or the other in the stereo field. And that's only some of the things the editors allow you to do. Very cool and very powerful indeed!
- You can't do firmware updates using the Neuro Mobile App - it requires a Mac or PC.
- You'll need to supply your own USB Mini Type B to USB Type A cable if you want to connect your True Spring Reverb pedal to your computer in order to do firmware updates or use the Neuro Desktop Editor software.
- There are no secondary labels to assist you insofar as the alternate functions for the Dwell (Depth) and Tone (Speed) knobs, or for the three Tremolo options on the Effects Select toggle switch.
- There's so many features and capabilities crammed into this pedal that some guitarists might feel overwhelmed. Don't let that put you off. You can easily access all the main features of the pedal without having to mess with the presets, the software editors, or any of the advanced MIDI and control features.
- Having to hold in the Control button while adjusting the tremolo controls takes two hands. If you have really large hands you may be able to do it with just one hand, but it's probably going to take some stretching.
This is a really deep pedal - both sonically and in terms of features. It's equally adept at serving up both tasty tremolo and righteous reverb, and the two together sound simply awesome. Instead of having to purchase two separate pedals (and find room for both on your crowded pedalboard) you can get both effects in one easy to use unit. And compared to the cost of individual pedals of anywhere near similar sonic quality, it's quite cost-effective too. You'd also pay extra elsewhere for the external tap footswitch and its 1/8" to 1/8" TRRS connecting cable too, which is also included, along with the cables you need in order to connect the pedal to your smartphone for deep level editing with the Neuro Mobile App, although you will need to supply your own USB cable if you'd prefer to use your computer for editing. Still, these are really thoughtful and useful extras.
With the help of the easy to use software options the True Spring Reverb leaps beyond the capabilities of the typical hardware effects pedal into the realm of advanced level control and sophistication offered only by the very best rack hardware and studio plug-in effects, allowing tone tweakers the kind of adjustability that will let them to customize the pedal to their own preferences. You can even use an optional expression pedal and the Neuro Hub for even more sophistication, giving you even greater expressive control, and a boatload of presets that you can recall via MIDI. All of the different effects types sound great. The Tank Reverb and the Harmonic Tremolo are probably my personal favorites (and they sound sooo good in stereo), but none of the available options are going to let you down. No matter what your personal reverb and tremolo preferences are, you're bound to find plenty to love in the Source Audio True Spring Reverb pedal. -HC-
Want to discuss the Source Audio True Spring Reverb pedal or have questions or comments about this review? Then head over to this thread in the Effects forum right here on Harmony Central and join the discussion!
Source Audio True Spring Reverb pedal ($329.00 MSRP, $229.00 "street")
Source Audio's product web page
Source Audio Downloads page for the free Neuro Desktop Editor software for Mac / PC
You can purchase the Source Audio True Spring Reverb pedal from:
Hidden Features Explained
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.