Developer Physical Audio flaunts some of the brainiest physical modeling in the industry. Delivering version 3.1 updates to two of its core products – a pair of phys-heavy reverbs doing springs and plates (what else?!) – Physical Audio had them rewritten from scratch and souped up with brand new Physical Audio Optimisation Engines running the models in real-time. We are taking these bad boys – very matter-of-factly named Dual Spring Reverb and Dynamic Plate Reverb – for a spin…
Dual Spring Reverb
Technologically, Dual Spring Reverb stands out as the first-ever plug-in to model wave propagation in helical springs. This means that the audio engine is built entirely upon simulating the inherent physical equations. Thankfully, you only get to reap the benefits without worrying about any math stuff. Among the benefits is reasonably adept creative control of spring setup to further increase the sound design possibilities. By the developer’s words, Dual Spring Reverb goes fine on guitar, synth, and drum tracks. I find this to be the exact use cases, for the plug-in never fails to add rich and colourful overtones in addition to the spring vibrance.
Owing to the math intricacies mentioned above, Dual Spring Reverb models two separate springs with controls for echo time and chirp cutoff frequency. You can also adjust how the chirps spread out over time. You can get a lot of tones out of these two controls alone, and then there are global parameters for the level of ‘boing’ (how adorably un-scientific!), damping, and tone. The final stage is a 7-band graphic equalizer to get only what’s needed out of your newly ‘sprung’ tracks. The final Stereo output is generated from signals passing through each of the two springs – a cross-fade control is there for adjusting the mix ratio. All in all, that’s a very respectable quantity of tonal possibilities packed into a plug-in that’s easy-peasy to use and takes almost no CPU.
Dynamic Plate Reverb
The Dynamic Plate Reverb plug-in lays on the plate reverbs real thick, making the spring reverb plug-in sound delicate and unobtrusive in comparison. My first stop was the material choice window which is positioned dead-center. Switching between Steel, Silver, Gold, Copper, and Aluminum produces markedly different tones for which I lack the vocabulary to properly describe. Regardless of choice, the reverb sounds mighty lush and full. This is where you go when you want the reverb to soak in your audio’s character to the point it becomes its identity. In less fancy words (please understand, they hired me for my fancy words…), this is your nascent ambient / shoegaze / drone project’s go-to reverb.
Like the spring reverb plug-in, Dynamic Plate is solid math in action. In place of impulse responses and delay networks, the plug-in kicks off with a mathematical description called the Kirchhoff plate equation. This permits simulating plate displacement in minute detail, such as size, thickness, tension, and material properties. I find the result outstanding. Pushed to near-max, the reverb is not for the faint-hearted. Rather, it’s very musical doom and gloom – which is a delightful aesthetic, may I add.
While the reverb engine is deep, the plug-in itself isn’t unnecessarily so. It gets you a Decay parameter posing as a “how much of the juice you want” control, alongside stereo spread and preamp drive knobs. The material selector is in the middle, and an 8-band graphic EQ is on frequency shaping duty to the right. That’s plenty enough for considerable plate-y fun!
Price and availability
Normally priced USD 130, the Dual Spring and Dynamic Plate plug-ins are on a launch sale for USD 91.20 each (30% off). Free demo versions are provided for both. The plug-ins work in AU, VST3, and AAX formats under Windows 10 and macOS.