A new plugin with old soul, the lat­est from Joze­fos­law’s finest lib­er­ates a his­toric hard­ware re­verb with mod­ern flex­i­bil­ity

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Mod­el­ling the neck­lace-type spring re­verbs briefly found in Hammond or­gans (see The rights of springs), Nex­cel­lence (VST/AU/AAX/RTAS) de­parts from clas­sic re­verb ‘norm’ in its ar­chi­tec­ture and style.

The In­put Gain knob can be raised to boost or over­drive the in­put sig­nal, while the Limit knob be­low low­ers the thresh­old on an opto-limiter cir­cuit. Be­tween them, th­ese two en­able a high de­gree of dy­namic and sat­u­ra­tion con­trol at the in­put. The Feed switch kills the in­put to the re­verb, but not the re­verb it­self – very handy, but a reg­u­lar by­pass but­ton wouldn’t go amiss, too.

Up to 250ms of pre­de­lay is on tap via the De­lay knob, while low­er­ing the In­put Width pulls down the gain of the sides sig­nal.

Nex­cel­lence si­mul­ta­ne­ously mod­els two dis­crete spring sets, the idea be­ing to use them in­di­vid­u­ally or to­gether. To that end, each has its own par­tic­u­lar yet com­ple­men­tary char­ac­ter. Set I is the brighter of the two, with a bit more sus­tain and depth – ‘newer’, if you will. Set II is darker and tighter – ‘older’, we’d say.

The two spring sets are con­fig­urable in three modes: set I on its own, set II on its own, or both to­gether (I+II). In I and II modes, the in­put is summed to mono be­fore en­ter­ing the re­verb. In I+II mode, the stereo in­put chan­nel as­sign­ment is switch­able be­tween three set­tings. Split has spring set I pro­cess­ing the left chan­nel and set II the right. In M/S mode, set I pro­cesses the mid, set II pro­cesses the sides, and the two are de­coded to L/R at the out­put. In Spread mode, both spring sets re­ceive in­put from both chan­nels. The Swap switch, un­sur­pris­ingly, switches the chan­nels

For shap­ing of the re­verb it­self, Nex­cel­lence of­fers De­cay Time, Color and EQ con­trols. Above all that, three Den­sity set­tings – Sparse, Dense and Shiny – bal­ance CPU over­head with ac­cu­racy (ie, over­sam­pling). Shiny is about 50% heav­ier than Sparse, but the im­prove­ment in high-fre­quency pres­ence and depth is ap­par­ent.

De­cay Time ranges from 0.8-7s, but be­ing a true me­chan­i­cal – and thus non-lin­ear – model, the ac­tual time de­pends on the fre­quency con­tent and level of the in­put sig­nal, and the Color set­ting. Color gov­erns not only the high­fre­quency tilt of the tail but also its den­sity and sat­u­ra­tion, again in­flu­enced by the prop­er­ties of the in­put sig­nal.

The EQ com­prises a high-pass fil­ter (10Hz-1kHz), and Low (60Hz), Mid (1.3kHz) and High (6kHz) gain knobs, each de­liv­er­ing 12dB of fairly broad cut or boost to the wet sig­nal.

Fi­nally, the out­put sig­nal is dry/wet mixed, lev­elled, nar­rowed and panned at the right hand end of the in­ter­face.

Nex’ gen

Nex­cel­lence is quite un­like any re­verb – spring or oth­er­wise – you’ve ever heard, with a unique rich­ness and en­ergy. We love the in­ex­act­ness of the De­cay Time and Color pa­ram­e­ters, which en­cour­age set­ting by ear rather than eye, and the rout­ing con­fig­ura­bil­ity of the two springs presents plenty of scope in terms of sonic vari­a­tion and com­plex­ity. Most im­por­tantly, it just sounds fab­u­lous on any source – acous­tic, vo­cal, elec­tric or elec­tronic – adding evoca­tive am­bi­ence, smooth spa­tial­is­ing or full-on dub­style ‘spro­ing’. Don’t make the mis­take of writ­ing this one off as a vin­tage cu­rio – Nex­cel­lence is just shy of es­sen­tial.

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