Guest Contribution by Elizabeth McClanahan, Assistant Mixer at Heard City
EMT 140 Plate Reverb
The majority of today’s common reverb plugins contain plate reverb settings, the designs of which are primarily based upon the popular Elektromesstechnik (EMT) 140 model plate. Upon its introduction in 1957, the EMT 140 Reverberation Unit quickly garnered popularity, providing a smoother substitute to spring reverb systems, as well as proving more space conscious and malleable than reverb chambers. While the EMT 140 presented a more practical alternative to other reverbs of its era, the advent of digital units created similar convenience advantages in an even more accessible package.
The 1957 production of the EMT plate marked a significant change in recording history, simplifying the process of affecting recorded sound while providing the engineer with a more versatile and customizable interface. Much like today’s convolution reverbs simultaneously provide convenience and complex control to reverb manipulation, the original EMT 140 plate established a consequential alternative to both spring reverbs and chambers.
Despite its roughly 600 pound weight, the EMT 140 plate provided a smaller solution to large echo rooms. Additionally, a remote controlled damping pad system allowed the engineer to adjust the reverb time, offering substantially more control than possible with a traditional chamber. The sheet metal plate is suspended from its frame by springs, a transducer mounted at the center of the plate drives movement, and returns consist of pickups mounted on the plate. While the 140 was originally available only in mono, EMT released a stereo model in 1961.