Doepfer A-199 Spring Reverb Module

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Spring reverb module

The Doepfer A-199 is a spring reverb module that via the aid of spiral springs electronically reproduces the reverb effect.

  • Spring system with 3 separate springs
  • Reverb signal can be on the input
  • Width: 8 TE / HP
  • Depth: 50 mm
  • Power requirement: +80 mA (+12V) / -10 mA (-12 V)
available since February 2005
Item number 178069
sales unit 1 piece(s)
Reverb Yes
Delay No
Multieffect No
Misc. Effects No
Width 8 TE / HP
£105
Including VAT; Excluding £10 shipping
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Bursting with character
Zoë 02.06.2013
Spring reverb is NOT like pristine digital reverb. Don't get it for that, but do get it. When added to the end of a patch, you can use it as a strange, otherworldly, organic reverb that leaves a metal taste in your mouth. But this is a modular synthesiser, so you're not confined to that. You can instead put it before the VCA, which stops it being reverb and starts it being a strange little creature that makes your patch sound more organic or real-world in a way that's hard to identify. It stops sounding like a synthesiser and starts sounding like a weird thing that might physically exist. In short, it introduces some complicated real-world physics into the mix.

So let's look at this particular spring reverb by Doepfer. The build quality isn't great, and it might benefit from a little re-soldering. If you're into modular synths, which are a pretty niche market, this probably won't be too difficult for you. It works just fine straight out of the box, but looks like you need to treat it carefully if you're not confident repairing it yourself later down the line.

Having said that, the features are great. The "emphasis" knob EQs the midrange, I believe, making it sound brighter if need be. As well as the regular inputs and outputs, there are extra ones for the feedback loop, so you can amplify the signal to lengthen the tail, filter it with any filter you already have, and so on. These simple features make it very open ended.

I also hear it's pretty easy to swap out the reverb tank -- the physical spring reverb in a metal case, that you plug into the main module -- for a different one, should you want to, for even more possibilities. Personally, though, I haven't found the need: this module is already providing me with so many things to try out, that I've still only begun to scratch the surface.

Spring reverb in general has a very distinctive sound, so check out some examples online before you decide whether this is for you. Personally, I'm making it a big part of the latest evolution of my signature sound.
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MQ
Dark, muddy and brooding
Martyn Q. 01.10.2015
The a199 has a lovely dark spring sound, the provided spring tank is a great match and starting point for a collection of tanks. Spring reverb is not the clean realistic sound associated with reverbs today - its clangorous, shonky and unmistakably mechanical in nature. The A199 is slightly l less feature filled than some other spring reverb modules available (no vc of feedback amount or wet/dry mix, no tank selection etc - all easily patchable though) - but a fraction of the cost. Follow the mounting instructions carefully to avoid unwanted artifacts (they are very susceptible to interference) - I've opted for keeping the tanks out of the case. You may consider also buying a decent external phono switch so you can have multiple tanks linked to the unit at once - saves popping the module out to change tanks.

I love playing with the feedback path of the a199 - it can even play self patched, great for drones... A typical drone patch for me would go:

A199 with no audio being fed to it, high feedback -> feedback insert goes to a vca -> A189-1 bit mangler -> Freqshifter -> A106-5 sem filter -> feedback return of the A199. Modulate away on the modules in the feedback path and the results are stunning - so organic, dark and ethereal.

I also like using it to add body to drum sounds or synthesised pianos, keep feedback low and run the mix output to a vca to shape the level contour.
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M
Slightly bigger spring tanks would give deeper sound
MassimoDavi 06.03.2020
The A-199 Spring Reverb is a nice addition to the system if you don't want DSP, I would say once paired with the BBD you'd have all you need in terms of effects. In my opinion the spring tank is a bit small, I agree it has to fit in the case, however, it is very sensitive to magnetic fields and to make it run silently I have to have it outside the case, so even if the spring tank was larger it would have been fine. Other than that it sounds good.

Edit: The noise it produced despite its placement far away from MF was due to poor quality RCA cables supplied with old units. I found this out after I got in touch with Dieter Doepfer, who, kindly sent me the better quality cables needed. Now everything runs smoothly and quiet!
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K
Great but...
KitSebastian 08.01.2018
Sounds lovely, big and deep, I use for studio as an FX send not just for synths.

When i saw a picture of the tank I bought a bigger one to arrive to hook up to the Doepfer unit, don't do this, the tank supplied may be small but it's perfect and sounds big.
I found the unit was very noisy, the RCA cables supplied are not of adequate quality and I was about to return this unit when I replaced it with higher quality shielded RCA cables, and immediately 75% of the noise went away, make sure you roll the 'emphasis' knob to 1 o'clock to get rid of some the noise.

Also i found the feedback knob to be an unpleasant effect.

Otherwise, sounds great and great price, would recommend.
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