It’s been some years since Soundtoys released a new plugin. But this year at NAMM we were all blindsided by the announcement of SuperPlate. Have the passing years been worth the wait?
On the face of it, you could be forgiven for feeling slightly underwhelmed. Wait a while for a popular company to update all their plugins, and get a plate instead. It might not necessarily be what you were waiting for. Afterall, plate reverb can be difficult to neatly mix into your track.
However, like other Sountoys devices, EchoBoy and LittlePlate spring to mind, good things come in small packages. SuperPlate delivers an impressive amount of features and style in a familiar-looking small GUI.
If lugging around incredibly heavy reverb plates is not your bag (The EMT 140 was nearly a back-breaking 300kg) you don’t have to as Sountoys has captured it, as well as its contemporaries.
SuperPlate’s Five Classic Electromechanical Plates
The meat and bones are of course the plates themselves. SuperPlate delivers five electromechanical plates on the left side of the plugin. These are:
As the name suggests, it’s modelled on the EMT 140. This will be well knows to users already if they have Little Plate. UAD users will also know of it from the Universal Audio EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverberator.
A sibling of the EMT 140, the EMT 240 was originally designed in the ’70s. It was aimed at recording trucks and studios that could not afford the space for the EMT 140 but did not want to sacrifice the quality of the reverberation at all. Instead of a flat plate, the EMT 240 uses a 12 square-inch gold foil that brings a slightly brighter and shimmery sound.
Based on Audicon’s “The Plate” (c. 1971) also known as the “Lawson Plate”. Designed in Nashville, like the Goldfoil 240, it was there to give customers choice.
E. Plate III
This one is based on the EcoPlate III, from the early 80s by Jim Cunningham / Studio Technologies. It’s generally considered much smoother and brighter, and perhaps crucially, less expensive than the EMTs.
The Subtlety Of The Pre-Amp
Plate reverbs employ a pre-amp to drive the “voice coil” that turns electrical sound waves into the physical vibrations of a plate reverb device.
What Sountoys have done is develop the preamp models to include two different extra versions in SuperPlate: Tube and Solid-Sate, as well as a Clean mode. Each can also be used in combination. You can toggle between the different settings below the plate menu.
Tube is modelled on the original EMT V54 used in the EMT 140. It’s great for adding harmonies to your sound.
Solid-Sate Mode is modelled on the EMT 162 preamp. It has a built-in compressor and is best deployed on sounds with more obvious transients. Drums are a good first try.
Clean removes all preamp modelling leaving you with no added dynamics or distortion.
What Further Features Are There?
There’s more to SuperPlate than meets the eye. If you hit TWEAK an EQ graph opens to offer you further control. Working from left to right along the bottom of the panel:
MODULATION can give you some vibrato-like effected reverbs using higher speeds and depths. The Rate control speed goes from a slow 0.2 Hz to 8Hz at the highest setting.
AUTO-DECAY works as you would expect with ducking but instead of reducing the volume of the reverb, it dynamically reduces the decay time. You then have the ability to automatically shorten the reverb time based on the input signal’s volume and dynamics. You can control that with the THRESHOLD button. If you’re struggling to mix your plate reverb in, this is going to really help. In fact, it’s truly incredible and sounds great.
STEREO is a true stereo in, stereo out device. To offer some context, Little Plate, in contrast has a summed-to-mono input like the original hardware. With SuperPlate you can control the stereo width using WIDTH while BALANCE, to its right, is in essence a pan knob.
Parametric EQ (2-band) / visual EQ sits above all of these. A neat addition is using the Control key and mouse scroll to adjust the bandwidth size. Nice little workflow addition.
How does SuperPlate Sound?
It’s fair to say it sounds excellent. Soundtoys are known for quality and they continue that theme here.
The company says it’s years of work, and it shows in the subtlety but also the ingenuity. It’s a plugin that is also easy to use, allowing you to squeeze that subtlety without a steep learning curve.
On a side note, we love the ctrl+opt hidden feature that locs any parameter when swapping between presets. This can be so useful.
In this clip below we’re processing a kick drum every other bar. The AUTO-DECAY is engaged and we’ve mapped an LFO to the PRE-DELAY. You can see that we’ve pushed the EQ. For the purpose of the example, the plugin automates between on and off. Sounds great for warehouse techno.
In this next example, we’ve automated the DRY WET across the length of the loop to gradually hit full wet signal. It’s on 16 sec decay time on the AUDICON plate. There’s some automation at the end of the loop on the EQ1 Freq. Sounds pretty good in my estimation.
The AUTO-DECAY is a great feature and worth the price alone. Until June 14th it’s $79 and afterwards it will be $149. I’ve attached an image of the presets too but frankly, it’s so easy to use, you won’t want to use them other than as a guide.
Already a Soundtoys user? If you have SoundToys 5.3 Bundle, it’s $29 to upgrade through June 14th and $59 after. If you have Little Plate it’s $29 and then $59.
So was it worth the wait? Yes. The world needs Soundtoys and it’s great to see them delivering new products again. Don’t just take my word for it, however. There has been a lot of other positive feedback and the question looms, if there is activity now, is there something bigger on the horizon? Soundtoys 6??
Price: $79 till June 14th
The Final Word
Clear out your cupboads and make way for the SuperPlate.