I am happy to announce the latest plugin in the ValhallaDSP lineup, ValhallaPlate.
Plate reverbs have been an obsession of mine for a long time. As a reverb developer, the physics of plates are fascinating. The physical structure of a plate reverb is pretty basic, if a little strange: a thin sheet of steel is suspended by springs in a metal frame, the input signal is imparted to the plate via a transducer, and the output is taken from pickups directly attached to the plate. The behavior of plate reverberators is complex and wonderful:
- Instant onset to the reverberation
- Instant high echo density
- Dispersion (the speed of sound is different in a plate for different frequencies, with high frequencies moving faster than low frequencies)
- A complex frequency/decay curve, where the low frequencies can have a MUCH longer or shorter decay than the midrange frequencies, and the high frequencies always have a fairly short decay
More importantly, I love the sound of plates. Plate reverbs are often associated with the 1960s, but they were heavily used in the 1970s and 80s, and continue to be used to this day. Contrary to popular belief, a well-tuned plate reverb doesn’t sound metallic, and isn’t particularly bright. The reverberation frequency/decay curve tends to work on almost any source material, from guitars to vocals to drums to, well, almost anything.
A few years ago, I became obsessed with the vocal sound of the first few Fleet Foxes records. It turns out that these records used an EMT140 plate at Avast Recording Company, located here in north Seattle. The vocal reverb on these Fleet Foxes recordings is evocative of many 1960s recordings, but with the levels and decay time cranked way up:
During the past few years, I have kept plate reverbs on a mental back burner. I’ve read any papers I can find on the subject, sought out recorded examples of plates, and filed away any plate-ish artifacts in my algorithmic experiments in a folder to revisit at a later time. Once the big website redesign was done in late 2014, I was able to start working on plate reverberator prototypes in earnest. Heading into Avast Recording with Don Gunn, and spending the day working with the EMT140 that I had been listening to on records, was one of the most exciting days of my career.
After years of R&D, and close to a year of dedicated programming work, ValhallaPlate is finally available to the public. Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing several blog posts, where I describe the history of plate reverbs, the physics and psychophysics of plates, and how I applied the research results to the design of ValhallaPlate. For now, you can head on over to the ValhallaPlate page, download the demos, and hear the results for yourself.