Not only am I a huge fan of plate reverb, Soundtoys is also one of my favorite companies. They offer up a consistently unique and vibe-y catalog of inspiring plug-ins that I can't help but use on a regular basis — EchoBoy [Tape Op #62], Crystallizer [#62], and Decapitator [Tape Op #105] being some of my favorite go-to choices. In fact, I have a friendly bet going with another engineer over who can get through a mix without using Decapitator. Inevitably, we both lose! Soundtoys just has a knack for going beyond a straightforward hardware replication, and it's my opinion that they are the gold standard for creative effects plug-in development.
Instead of modeling Little Plate from a single hardware unit, apparently Soundtoys collected five vintage EMT 140 plate reverbs to gather inspiration. Excitedly, I snagged my free download (offered to all Soundtoys 5 suite owners) and started using it immediately. The first thing I noticed is how simple Little Plate is. I love tools that do one thing really well with limited tweaking — turn it on, and it just works. Sometimes (but not always), too many configurable parameters can cloud the vibe and slow down momentum. Little Plate has exactly four controls: Low Cut (20 Hz — 1 kHz), Decay, Mod ("Space Modulator"), and Wet/Dry Mix.
As with most plate reverbs, Little Plate's Low Cut really helps clean up the mucky-muck. I like the simplicity of the large, continuously variable Low Cut knob, but if I had just one beef with Little Plate, I'd prefer the steps found on many filters. Fortunately, that's not even close to a deal-breaker for me — I can just open an automation lane in my DAW to select exact parameters and then save them at different cuts as presets. No big deal.
Little Plate's Decay setting goes way past the maximum 5 second decay time of an original EMT 140, reaching beyond 32 seconds into an "Infinity" mode, which is both spooky and heavenly at the same time — the reverb tail never ends! I've had a ton of fun automating the Wet/Dry Mix settings while dialing in and out of Infinity mode to creatively shave the reverb tail's presence on background vocals and piano while using Little Plate as a channel insert — turns out you can get really crazy results with just three knobs and a switch!
Hands down, my favorite feature of Little Plate is its Mod switch that incorporates a hint of modulation to the reverb tail — adding a dreamy, thickening character that results in a super-rich vibe that you just won't find with faithful plate reverb recreations. The Mod switch is what really makes Little Plate stand out in my opinion.
Though I love the "true" sound of a real EMT 140 plate reverb, Soundtoys offers not only another color to the palette, but an inspiring change to an expected classic. Whether it's applied as an insert effect or on a bus, Little Plate's simplicity of use has made for confident decision-making, while its original flavor has notched up the depth and character of my mixes. Well done Soundtoys — another plug-in I can't live without.