The Little Plate by Soundtoys is essentially an emulation of the EMT 140 with a modern twist. They didn’t model one unit, but looked at 5 units and tried to capture the essence. They also went beyond the original 5 second maximum delay to infinity. The EMT 140 is pretty much the standard for plate reverbs, and has been used on such historic albums as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and John Lennon’s Imagine. It’s an essential tool to have for any style, especially if you do vocals.
While the original EMT 140 could only go up to 5 seconds of delay, the Little Plate can go up to Inifinity. The nice thing is that they put a red ring around the delay knob showing what is outside of the original EMT’s bounds. If you want to be faithful to the original, stay below the red. If you don’t care, turn it up as far as you want. You can always automate the delay knob in your DAW, turning it down during busy parts, and then setting it to infinity during quieter parts of the song.
The mod button adds slight modulation in an effort to smooth out the sound for long reverbs. The Mix knob is useful if you want to put the effect inline as an Audio FX on the instrument’s track. Alternatively, you can setup a send to emulate a traditional console, in which case you’d leave it as Wet on an Aux track. That is also useful when you want to send multiple tracks to the same Little Plate instance so that they all sound like they are in the same space.
The Low Cut knob is useful for cutting out some of the boomy low end to avoid “build up” as the longer delay times will “accumulate” the low end frequencies, making it too muddy.
The following clip demonstrates, at a longer delay, what affect the extremes of the Low Cut knob have. You’ll notice with Low Cut all the way up, there isn’t as much build up.
To show how subtle yet drastic an effect the plugin can have on your mix with just the minimum half second delay, here is a Percussion sample with a Vocal sample. They go into the same instance so that they are tied together to sound like the same “room” or space.
Tip: Hold Option and Control at the same time to lock the knob’s setting. The knob’s description will turn red when locked. This is useful if you want the Wet or Low Cut knob to stay the same while cycling through presets.
Soundtoys Little Plate vs UAD EMT 140
It’s tough to do an apples to apples comparison, because the UAD is trying to emulate the real thing, while the Soundtoys is capturing the essense. I slightly prefer the UAD. Maybe it’s because of the nostalgic look of the plugin, and knowing it’s rich history, I feel comfortable applying it to just about any track.
As an aside, don’t be fooled by the UAD interface. The actual EMT 140 was a big box with a steel plate in it stored out of site, not a rack unit like the plugin would lead you to believe.
While the UAD EMT 140 has a few more options, the Little Plate is dead simple to use. The UAD used to be my go to, but now I find myself using the Little Plate more often as it’s quick to get a nice sound out of it, and I can go beyond 5 seconds if needed. Soundtoys Little Plate is also half the price of the UAD EMT 140 (barring any sales.)
It’s hard to do a benchmark comparison since the UAD plugins run on their own chips. While I perceive the Little Plate as opening quickly, my unscientific tests show that the EMT 140 loads faster. (Actually super fast and it only adds about 4% to the Apollo DSP.) This may not be a big deal to everyone, but it can make a huge difference in the middle of your creative process.
This is an audio comparison with a Piano sample sent to an Aux with first the Little Plate, and then the UAD EMT 140 with matched settings.
And here’s a vocal sample comparison at 2 seconds delay and 350Hz cutoff.
Of course plugins being as affordable as they are, you no longer have to choose. If you can’t decide, why not do both! Here is the UAD going into the Soundtoys. It adds a bit more depth, although it adds a bit of build up as well.
Also check out our review of the Soundtoys Decapitator.
This is a great plugin for plate reverb, and useful to try on just about all material. If you really want the EMT 140, I’d say go for it if twice the price isn’t an issue. I think learning the UAD EMT 140 is a good way to get a feel for how the real thing worked. If all you can afford is the Little Plate (or you don’t have an Apollo) then go for it. It’s simple to use, making it quick to dial in a sound. (Sometimes less options means less for you to screw up.) The ability to go beyond 5 seconds is a nice plus as well.
Don’t forget to check out our other Soundtoys Reviews.