ValhallaPlate: The Reverb Modes

The primary goal when creating ValhallaPlate was to create an accurate model of a plate reverb. I wanted something that sounded and behaved like a cold rolled steel plate. This meant analyzing and listening to every plate example I could get my hands on, reading all available literature on plates, spending a few years digesting what I had learned, and getting some hands-on time with real plate reverbs. I was obsessed with the plate reverb sound, so that made the process easier.

At the same time, I was also obsessed with the sound of reverb chambers. There was something about the warmth and clarity of records from the 1950s and 1960s that used reverb chambers that really appealed to me. My research let me to the conclusion that reverb chambers and plate reverbs have a lot of shared characteristics (I explore this in detail in a separate blog post).

The reverb modes of ValhallaPlate were designed to emulate plate reverbs, while allowing the plugin to cover much of the same ground as reverb chambers. ValhallaPlate 1.0.0 launched with 7 reverb modes, while Version 1.5.0 adds five modes to bring the total up to 12. Seven of the reverb modes in ValhallaPlate are closely modeled on steel plates, while the other five modes have the higher modal density that is characteristic of reverb chambers. All of the plates have different frequency/decay characteristics, different base tonalities, and different resonance distributions.

DISCLAIMER: The names of the different modes have nothing to do with the physical materials being modeled. These are all based on models of steel plates. I have no idea what a plate made of copper or aluminum would actually sound like. I do know what a gold plate sounds like, as we tested an EMT240 during the development process. I kinda hated the EMT240 sound, so Gold didn’t make the cut for mode names.

With that out of the way, the ValhallaPlate reverb modes:

Chrome. This is a good starting point for the plugin. This is a fairly neutral sounding plate. The attack is not super sharp, and the tone is kinda bright, but not too bright.

Steel: Similar to Chrome, but darker.

Cobalt: This has a deeper attack than both Chrome and Steel (i.e. the sound seems to come from a more distant sound source). The tonality is fairly dark. There is a bit of resonance in the very low midrange, that was dialed in from a specific EMT140 we tested at Avast Recording here in Seattle. Most of the other ValhallaPlate modes were deliberately designed to have a more neutral tonality, but this low midrange resonance was key to getting close to that specific sound.

Brass: Much sharper attack than the first 3 modes. If you listen to the signal 100% wet, it almost sounds like there is some dry signal in there. This is a characteristic of some of the plates we heard during the development process. The tonality is fairly bright.

Aluminum: MUCH higher modal density than the first 4 modes. With the SIZE parameter set >100%, Aluminum can sound much more like a chamber than a plate. There is a slight metallic sound to a well tuned plate, that the first 4 reverb modes have. Aluminum (and Copper & Unobtanium) have less of this metallic sound, and can sound much clearer. The overall tonality of Aluminum is fairly bright.

Copper: High modal density, but deeper and darker than Aluminum. The sound seems to come from deep within the plate. Set the SIZE up to 200%, and add a touch of modulation, and you have an open sounding reverb that works on almost any source material.

Unobtanium: High modal density, bright, with a longer high frequency decay than the other plates. This is my take on the Ecoplate sound, but without the metallic ringing artifacts. Turn up the modulation, and you have a perfect reverb for synths.

Adamantium (New in Version 1.5.0): Mono-in, stereo-out mode, with the dense upper midrange and lower modal density found in older plates. Lower modal density, with lots of high frequency “air.”

Titanium (New in Version 1.5.0): Mono-in, stereo-out mode. Darker tone color than Adamantium.

Osmium (New in Version 1.5.0): Mono-in, stereo-out mode. Dark tone color, with a booming low end that is befitting of the densest metal found in nature.

Radium (New in Version 1.5.0): A chamber/plate hybrid that uses the equivalent of 2 parallel mono plates to preserve the stereo image of your input signal.

Lithium (New in Version 1.5.0): A lush chamber/plate hybrid, with a unique approach to the stereo image that is inspired by the “stereo” chambers found in some recording studios. Helps to preserve the input panning of signals, while still having a realistic fill of the stereo image over time.

 

About the author:

Sean Costello is the “algorithmic reverb plugin wizard” [citation needed] at Valhalla DSP.

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