Welcome to the second installment in the Sound Spotlight series. Today we present the EMT-140 Plate Reverb Unit, also known as "First Plate Reverb" 1. We are going to talk about the history of the unit and give you some interesting facts. Also, we're going to talk about how you can incorporate the warm reverb sounds of this legendary device into your own sounds using modern plugins.
A few years ago I noticed a fascinating picture on Avid blogs. It featured former iZotope product manager Brett Bunding with a stethoscope up to an original EMT-140 plate reverb unit. The article, titled "Treat Your Voice With AAX Power With iZotopes Nectar 2," by Alex Westner, an audio technologist, was published on March 17, 2014 and is no longer published on Avid Blogs. I managed to save the photo below.
What is this giant EMT-140 record hall unit and why does it use a stethoscope?
iZotope Product Manager iZotope's former Brett Bunding. Photo from Avidblogs.com. The article was written by Alex Westner and is no longer online.
The story: The EMT-140 plate reverb effect
What is plate reverb? In simple terms, a metal plate suspended from springs sits in a suitcase. When the sound is pushed through this plate reverb, it vibrates. A transducer microphone on the edge of the housing picks up these noises. Originally there was only one microphone in the EMT 140, but they added a second that gave a stereo signal.
The legendary EMT-140 was groundbreaking technology and historically important for audio recording. It was the first plate reverberator, designed in 1957 by Wilhelm Franz, founder of Elektro-Mess-Technik (EMT) 2. In some circles it is referred to as the "king of mechanical reverberation" 3. It was the first time that recordings had both a soft and a thick reverb.
In the following video, sound engineer Dan Dietrich shows an original EMT-140 plate reverb and shows how it works. This thing is a mammoth – about 600 pounds!
An original EMT 140 unit that is approximately 4 x 8 feet. Photo credits: Building a recording studio. This unit was located in Sound City in Van Nuys, California, the studio that was the subject of Dave Grohl's documentary Sound City.
Would you like to take a closer look at the original?
You can view the EMT-140 Reverb Unit manual dated April 1971, hosted by PreservationSound.com.
The manual describes how it is structured and how it works. The functions and circuit diagrams of the remote control are also displayed.
Manual for the reverb unit EMT-140
The following video shows an original EMT-140 device. Listen to the scary noises.
How does EMT-140 sound?
Below is a Vintage Audio Workshop video with an EMT 140 Plate Reverb audio test so you can get an idea of what it sounds like.
Alex Westner mentioned in the original Avid article that the EMT 140 was used on old Elvis and The Beatles records, but also best known in Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Indeed there is a beautiful sound of a huge room but in a small space. It is still widely used by sound engineers, but usually in a software format. Listen to the plate reverb in the examples below.
Recreation of the EMT-140 plate reverb with plugins
If you record audio and want nice reverb for your singing but don't have room for a mattress-sized device, you can now create the same vintage reverb effect in almost any DAW.
Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates
Sale: special prices. Temporary offer
State-of-the-art modeling of the four legendary EMT 140 reverb plates at Abbey Road Studios
A precise modeling of four legendary reverb plates from Abbey Road (EMT 140), each with a unique character. It has a controller for setting the THD properties of the in / out amplifiers and the record sheet. It is also possible to control the amount of analog noise and hum. There are four original bass cut positions with crosstalk between the stereo inputs to create a stereo leak effect.
SoundToys Little Plate
The lush sound of plate reverb – with a modern twist.
Inspired by the original EMT 140 plate reverb, we captured the great sound and mood of this studio classic and turned it into a fun and musically inspiring plug-in. And we couldn't resist pushing the boundaries of reality. So we've added a few fun twists and turns that you can use to bring Little Plate into rooms that the original hardware only dreamed of.
IK Multimedia Sunset Sound Studio Reverb
Sale: special prices. Temporary offer
Experience one of the most famous studios in the world in your DAW
T-RackS Sunset Sound Studio Reverb lets you step into the Sunset Sound studios and capture the sound mojo of each of those echo chambers, live rooms, booths, plates and springs, as well as the unique atmosphere of their custom consoles and classic microphone collection.
In addition to the rooms and chambers, T-RackS Sunset Sound Studio Reverb offers two of Sunset's vintage plate reverb units, an EMT 140 and an Echoplate, as well as the AKG BX-20E spring reverb. IK chose the best sounding Sunset devices, added that classic vintage hardware reverb sound, and gave you a comprehensive set of reverb types in a single plug-in.
iZotope Nectar Plus
iZotope Neoverb Launch Promo – until November 9, 2020
Singing, in the mix
The Nectar 3 Reverb module is modeled on the classic EMT 140ST stereo plate reverb and has additional controls for setting the pre-delay and the width that are not included in the EMT 140ST hardware unit. The reverb module combines a retro feel with modern technology and captures the unmistakable warmth and density of the EMT 140. At the same time, it offers unique controls that were physically impossible in the original device.
learn moreTry iZotope Nectar Plus for free!
- The Story of EMT and Plattenhall, WikiAudio, April 10, 2019
- Electrical measurement technology, Wikipedia.
- MT 140 TS-Record: King of Mechanical Reverbs, by Chris Ruggiero, Preservation Sound, September 7, 2013.