The EMT 140 is an analog reverberation unit and was one of the first plate reverbs to be widely adopted by studios. An hugely important piece of recording history, it undeniably changed the way reverberation effects could be used in sound production and to this day, many reverb manufacturers seek to emulate or take cues from its sound.
Prior to the advent of digital devices, reverb could only be added to a source via generating it in some sort of space or device. Up until the late 1950s, studios like Abbey Road did just this by using physical reverberation chambers; these were rooms with desirable acoustic characteristics that had permanent microphone and speakers set-up to play pre-recorded sounds into then record the acoustic response. While this was effective, the limitations imposed by the unchangeable acoustic profiles of these chambers left a need for something with more control and flexibility and as such, a need which the cutting-edge EMT 140 plateswere able to satisfy.
The EMT 140 works by suspending a metal sheet by springs inside a steel frame. A transducer fixed to the middle of the plate is fed a signal, causing it to resonate and produce a sound similar to natural reverb. Pickups attached to both sides of the plate convert this sound to an electrical signal which is fed to an amp and then routed back to the control room. Aside from taking up less physical space than a whole acoustic chamber, the EMT 140 offers the additional flexibility of being able to control the decay time via felt dampers that can be gradually applied to the plate to reduce the length of its vibration. This can be controlled via a remote unit in the studio, as can an input filter and pre-delay mechanism.
The legacy of the EMT 140 is quite substantial, as it features on many influential recordings and remains a prominent inspirationfor modern devices(almost all digital reverbs offer some variation of a plate reverb setting). Although it is distinctly different from the reverb sound of a natural space, the warm, harmonic sustain of the EMT 140 lends a wonderful ambience and atmosphere to almost anything.
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