Teaching Machines Wellspring Reverb Review
WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln
UPLOADED: 17th Oct 2023
The Wellspring is more than ‘just’ a stereo spring reverb – it also has twin delays, filters, a modulation section (including an external input on the back for LFOmo or other modulation source) and the ‘Magic’ feedback loop. Like all good analogue gear it encourages experimentation and rewards abuse. Here are the results of my initial investigations into the unit.
The Teaching Machines Wellspring stereo spring reverb has been making waves in the pro audio world since its launch and I’ve finally had the pleasure of my first dive deep into this remarkable unit.
The name Wellspring evokes images of a refreshing source, an origin from which you could reasonably expect soundscapes to flow freely. The Wellspring isn’t just another reverb unit; it’s a complete effects rig on its own and a constant river of inspiration.
Well, That Escalated…
I initially tried it with my Soma Terra and also with guitar and it’s certainly capable of sounding smooth and sweet. I could’ve lost a great deal of time enjoying playing guitar through it, but inevitably I wanted to see how it reacted to more aggressive treatment and plugged a Korg KR-55B in. To begin with I did things ‘right’ – going into the rear/line inputs and it sounded excellent – the delays/filter/modulation allowing all manner of rhythmic options and tone sculpting. So far so good. Then I tried plugging into the guitar input on the front and unleashed a world of grit, noise and dirt (which of course I loved): this is my kind of machine.
This lead me to think ‘if only a Grampian 636 had all these features and was stereo’: so I duly plugged the Korg into my Soundgas Type 636P preamp pedal and things quickly got super gnarly. At last, a stereo Grampian with all the bells and whistles I could wish for (a pleasant surprise for someone who usually wants more options from his gear).
The delays are excellent and can get very crunchy; the filter is wonderful for subtle (and not so subtle) tone shaping; the modulation helps to smooth out any ringing from the springs (and can be a more creative option also); finally, the Magic feedback knob can introduce screaming/howling feedback if over-used, but can also evoke otherworldly sonic atmospheres.
The ensuing deep dark and dirty jam lasted half an hour and could’ve gone on all night had I not needed to get some sleep before an early start the next day. In short, this is a one-stop effects unit that is as rewarding for someone just starting out with hardware as it is for someone (like me) who already has a studio full of gear.
A note about the construction and packaging: the Wellspring is made in the UK (in Wales) and at this price point, you might expect some corners to have been cut, but that is very definitely not the case. From the moment I picked up the box when it arrived (it’s heavy!), to unpacking (the packaging is bio degradable – made with mushroom compost!), to first look and deeper examination of the finish and controls: everything about the Wellspring is of a quality that greatly exceeds its price. Try one: I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Features at a Glance
Stereo Spring Reverb: The heart of the unit, the two full-sized spring reverb tanks, boasting four springs in total. The result? A gloriously expansive and rich stereo sound that’s bound to impress even the most jaded sonic explorers.
Dynamic Delays: a stereo pair of delays with individual or synchronizable delay times, that complement and enhance the reverb to create longer tails echoing into infinity.
Filters and Modulation: spring reverbs can sometimes ‘ring’ at more extreme settings. With the stereo filters and modulation you can artfully ‘scatter’ feedback tails and create natural (as well as wildly unnatural!) stereo reverbs of great depth and pleasing detail.
MAGIC Feedback Loop: want your reverb to sing or scream? The MAGIC feedback loop which feeds the spring signal beach into the stereo delays allowing practically endless tails. Caution: tread lightly, for it’s a realm where sound can rapidly spiral into delightful (and very noisy) howling chaos!
…and it’s an adaptable beast: The Wellspring is thoughtfully designed for maximum versatility. Whether you’re a guitarist looking for a high impedance input and stunning clear reverbs, or a studio engineer who expects stereo line ins and outs, it’s got you covered. Able to be either racked or table-mounted (using attachable ears or rubber feet), it’s a fit for any setup.
Concluding Notes: Endless Creative Possibilities
The controls on the Wellspring are more than just knobs and dials; they’re gateways to uncharted sonic territories, blurring the lines between reverb and synthesis and offering infinite sound sculpting possibilities that caters for all musicians, from subtle ambient soundscape designers to wild and experimental noisemongers.
In a vast sea of modern reverbs, the Wellspring emerges as an island of innovation and authenticity. Its profound spaciousness and sonorous depths paired with seemingly endless creative possibilities make it more than just a reverb unit – it’s an experience, a journey, a sonic odyssey.
Whether you have heard it all before or are just starting out on a sonic journey into hardware: for anyone seeking more than just a reverb, the Wellspring is for you. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility – especially when playing with the MAGIC feedback loop!
As always, I’d recommend not just reading about it but diving in and experiencing the Wellspring for yourself. After all, the true joy of these devices can only be understood when you’re lost in their depths.
Happy sonic explorations!