In today’s blog post, we're going to take a deep dive into the world of plate reverb and explore everything you need to know about this iconic effect.
From its history and origins to its modern-day applications, we'll explore how it has helped shape the sound of popular music over the past several decades.
So if you're curious about plate reverb and want to learn how to incorporate this legendary effect into your own recordings and mixes, keep reading.
What is Plate Reverb
Plate reverb is a type of artificial reverb commonly used in music production, engineering, and recording.
It was first introduced in the 1950s and has since become a popular effect used in many genres of music.
First, we will dive into the history, mechanics, and applications later.
Before the advent of digital reverb, plate reverb was the go-to method for achieving artificial reverb in the studio.
It was first developed in the late 1940s by physicist and inventor Dr. Harold D. Arnold.
He realized that by suspending a metal plate with a transducer attached, he could create a device that would resonate and produce an artificial reverb effect.
The first commercial plate reverb unit was the EMT 140, introduced in the early 1950s by the German company Elektro Mess Technik (EMT).
It quickly became a staple in recording studios around the world and was used on countless classic recordings, including Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" and The Beatles' "Abbey Road."
How Does Plate Reverb Work
Plate reverb works by using a transducer to excite a metal plate, causing it to vibrate and resonate.
The vibrations create sound waves that bounce around the plate and reflect back and forth, creating the reverb effect.
The sound is then picked up by a microphone placed near the plate and sent to the mixing console or recording device.
The size and shape of the plate, as well as the material it's made of, can affect the sound of the reverb.
Larger plates generally produce a longer reverb time and a more spacious sound, while smaller plates produce a shorter reverb time and a tighter sound.
The material of the plate can also affect the sound, with stainless steel and aluminum being common choices for their reflective properties.
Plate reverb is often used to add depth, brightness, and dimension to recorded tracks, creating the illusion of a larger space or environment.
It's commonly used on vocals and drums, as well as on entire mixes, to create a cohesive and immersive sound.
One of its advantages is its ability to create a natural and organic sound, as the reverb is created by physical vibrations rather than digital algorithms.
It can also be easily controlled and adjusted to fit the needs of the song or recording, with parameters such as reverb time and EQ allowing for fine-tuning.
Plate Reverb Settings For Vocals
Using plate reverb on vocals can add a sense of depth, space, and presence to the vocal sound, making it sound more natural and immersive.
Here are some steps to consider when using it on vocal tracks:
- Send the vocal track to a dedicated plate reverb bus. This can be done by creating a new auxiliary track and routing the vocal track to it.
- Experiment with different decay times, pre-delay, and other parameters to achieve the desired effect. Keep in mind that plate reverb tends to have a smoother, brighter sound compared to other types of reverb.
- You can start with a 100% wet signal and gradually reduce it until you achieve the desired effect. Too much reverb can make the vocal sound distant or muddy, so use your ears to find the right balance.
- Depending on the specific plate reverb preset or settings you're using, you may need to adjust the frequency response of the reverb to prevent it from clashing with other elements in the mix. For example, you may want to roll off some of the low-end frequencies to avoid muddiness.
- You can use automation to adjust the wet/dry mix or other parameters of the plate reverb throughout the course of the song to create interesting and varied vocal effects.
Overall, using plate reverb on vocals can be a great way to add a sense of space and depth to the vocal sound.
However, as with any effect, it's important to use your ears and find the right balance to ensure that the effect enhances the overall mix rather than detracting from it.
FAQ About The Effect
In the following section, you’ll find a list of the most frequently asked questions and detailed answers to help you clarify any confusion.
This should also help you get the most out of this classic effect.
When Should You Use Plate Reverb?
A plate reverb is good for adding depth, richness, and character to audio recordings.
It can be used on various types of audio sources, such as vocals, drums, synths, piano, etc., to create a sense of space and ambience that can make them sound more natural and brighter.
It can produce a bright and rich sound that adds a sense of dimension to the audio without being overly boomy or overpowering.
Plate reverb can also create a sense of space and distance, which can be useful for making recordings sound more realistic or spacious.
Can it be Useful for Guitar?
Yes, plate reverb is generally considered to be a great choice for guitar recordings. It can help to create a more immersive and natural sound, as well as add a sense of depth and texture to the guitar tone.
It can be particularly effective for clean or slightly distorted guitar sounds, as it can help smooth out any harshness or brittleness in the tone and create a more pleasing sound.
It is also useful on more heavily distorted guitar tones to add a sense of space, which can help make the guitar sound larger and more present in the mix.
Overall, plate reverb could be a powerful tool for enhancing the sound of guitar recordings, whether it's for adding subtle depth and ambience or creating a more dramatic, atmospheric effect.
The Difference Between Spring and Plate Reverb
Spring reverb and plate reverb are two different types of artificial reverb effects that are commonly used in music production and audio engineering.
The main differences between spring and plate reverb are in the way they create their sound and the characteristics of the resulting effect.
Spring reverb is created by sending an audio signal through a metal spring that vibrates and creates a sound reflection.
It tends to have a more boingy, metallic sound with a shorter decay time, making it a popular choice for adding a subtle sense of space and improving the rhythm of electric guitar recordings.
Plate reverb, on the other hand, normally has a smoother sound with a longer decay time, making it a popular choice for creating a sense of depth and atmosphere in vocal and acoustic instrument recordings.
Another difference between spring and plate reverb is their frequency response. Spring reverb tends to have a more pronounced midrange, while plate reverb has a brighter sound.
Both reverb types can be useful tools for adding dimension and character, and the choice between them often depends on the specific sound and effect that the producer or engineer is trying to achieve.
Is a Plate Reverb Mono or Stereo?
A plate reverb can be either mono or stereo, depending on the specific setup and configuration of the reverb unit.
A mono plate reverb typically has a single input and output, and the reverb effect is applied equally to both the left and right channels of a stereo mix.
This can create a sense of depth, but doesn't offer any panning or spatial effects. Normally used on lead vocals or snare drums that are meant to remain mono in a mix.
A stereo plate reverb has separate input and output channels for the left and right sides of a stereo mix, allowing for more control over the spatial aspects of the reverb effect.
This can include panning, width, and other stereo imaging effects that can help create a more immersive and realistic sense of space.
Some plate reverb units are designed specifically for stereo operation, while others can be used in both mono and stereo configurations, depending on the needs of the specific project.
Ultimately, the choice between mono and stereo plate reverb depends on the specific requirements of the project and the desired effect that the producer or engineer is trying to achieve.
Plate vs Hall Reverb
Compared to plate reverb, hall reverb creates sound differently and produces a different effect.
Hall reverb is designed to emulate the sound of a large concert hall or similar space. It usually has a longer decay time and a more diffuse, spacious sound compared to a plate.
The sound of a hall reverb is often described as being more natural and spacious, with a sense of depth that can help make the mix sound more expansive.
Another difference between hall and plate reverb is their frequency response. Hall reverb normally sounds warmer, while a plate sounds bright.
Hall reverb can be a great choice for adding depth, atmospheric effect, and thickness.
Even though plates can also sound thick, it is only for a short period of time, while hall reverbs sound lush for longer periods of time.