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Mike Storey and His Plate Reverb (Video) 163

Posted by Roblimo
from the hellooooo-helloooo-hellooo-helloo-helloo dept.
"Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is produced," says Wikipedia. More often than not, in studio recordings reverb is added digitally; virtually every FOSS or proprietary sound-editing program has a built-in reverb utility. But what if you're the sort of purist who prefers the analog sound of vinyl records to the digital sound of MP3s or CDs? What if you're the kind of musician who records at the original Sun Studio in Memphis to get that original rock and roll sound? That may be overly picky for most musicians, but there are some who would rather sound like Johnny Cash than Flavor Flav, and they're the ones who are going to insist on real analog reverb instead of twiddling a setting in Audacity. There are many types of analog reverbs, of course. One of the purest types, preferred by many audio purists, is the adjustable plate reverb, and Jim Cunnigham's Ecoplate is considered by many to be the best plate reverb ever -- which brings us to Mike Storey, who wanted an Ecoplate-type plate reverb so badly that he spent eight months building one. He'll run your audio files through it for a (highly negotiable) fee, and maybe give you a bit of advice if you want to build your own, although his biggest piece of advice for you (at the end of the video) to think long and hard before you become a home-brew reverberator, with or without advice and components from Jim Cunningham.

NOTE: This transcript was made before the final video edit, so it has some "bonus" material in it. Enjoy!

Mike Storey: You’re looking at a plate reverb.

Timothy Lord: Okay.

Mike Storey: Hand built.

Timothy Lord: Talk about what is a plate reverb?

Mike Storey: Plate reverb is an artificial reverb device to create special effects for recorded sound.

Timothy Lord: And why is it called a plate reverb?

Mike Storey: It’s called plate reverb because it’s a large plate of cold rolled steel or stainless steel that produces the reverb, so it’s a plate of metal that produces the reverb.

Timothy Lord: And how does the sound actually reach the plate and how does it come out from unaffected to being an affected sound?

Mike Storey: Well, it’s a pretty simple signal path that happens. From your mixing source you send the sound that you want to have reverb on it, let’s say for this vocal, so you send your vocal to the plate reverb out of your mixing system, whether that’s a digital audio, work station or whatever it is, so that’s a line level signal or a mic level signal.

It goes to a tube amp that I have here – it’s hand built – and then it goes to the plate reverb which effectively acts as, sort of a similar principle to a speaker, where you have a transducer that excites a thin film, which creates noise. In simplistic terms that’s how a speaker works. And a plate reverb sort of works the same way except for instead of being a paper cone, it’s a stretched piece of metal.

So, when you have a speaker, the transducer excites the paper and it creates noise that you hear in the room. But with the plate reverb what happens is because of the properties of metal being slightly different when you excite the metal, the sound waves travel through the metal and then on a plate reverb you have pickups on the far side of the metal that hear those sound waves travel through and somewhere along the line, some intelligent person figured out that when sound travels through metal it makes it sound as though the sound has been in a church, big beautiful reverberated sound.

So, those two pickups on the far end of the metal pickup that beautiful echo, that beautiful reverb and then those pickups return back to your mixing desk where you, in different degrees, mix it into the original source sound, you can blend them, you can EQ them, you can time delay them and all that, to create the effect of a spatial effects reverb, echo and so forth.

Timothy Lord: How long have these been around?

Mike Storey: I think since late ‘50s. It’s one that a German EMT company patented it.

Timothy Lord: Can you talk a little bit about the tech that’s actually inside, are the constructions too modernity here, are there throwbacks?

Mike Storey: It’s all really straightforward. You can take a look at it if you want. So, here’s the Pro Tools rig. So, I’m sending say vocals or a snare drum or whatever I want to send a guitar solo through the back of my MBox. It goes to a tube amp and then from there it goes out of the tube amp to the transducer, which is that piece in the middle. It’s my [metacoil] system and that excites the plate which makes it vibrate and then those pickups on the near end which you probably have to get insert shots off in the far end.

And this is a dampener because basically these are just ceiling tiles put on a frame, fiber glass ceiling tiles and they can actually be adjusted outward and inward. And the idea behind it is that, if left on its own, the plate reverb creates a reverb time of something like 9 seconds, which is astronomically long in the world of music, because most songs might have a rhythm like this. If you had a 9 second reverb trail on a snaredrum, it’d just become a big fuzzy mess. So you want short reverb drills, half a second, one second, two seconds at long. And so you use the dampener to essentially dampen, mellow out the plate, so it doesn’t vibrate as long and it shortens the reverb time. So if you want to time your snare drums reverb to say a second, you bring the dampener in closer. So it goes [illustration], like that, as opposed to [illustration]. I don’t know if you will be able to use that.

And that’s it in a nutshell. There is no fancy technology really. But for me the most complicated part of building the thing was that nobody builds them anymore. There’s one guy in Chicago who designed the – when the German patent ran out, I think in the ‘70s or the early ‘80s, an American company called Ecoplate designed one and the man who invented that is Jim Cunningham and he sells the components online for it. And he didn’t actually even have a website at that point when I was building this and I found him after searching meticulously through the web for any information on plate reverbs and we spoke on the phone. He was really helpful and very kind and he had great war stories talking about Michael Jackson, referring to him as Mike Jackson and Quincy Jones by their first names, talking about how they made the Thriller record with his machine and which I thought was really endearing and pretty cool too. And so he gave me tech help and I had to source out the right kind of fiber glass tiles – I had the wrong tiles for the dampener – and I had to go to McMaster-Carr to find like the right spring bolts and it was mostly a problem of sourcing. The technology itself is really simple. It’s very simple wiring.

Timothy Lord: You talked about the frame. It looks almost like a bed frame to me. Can you talk about how that came to be?

Mike Storey: The frame is actually custom made and I just lucked out in that regard in that a good friend of mine is a blacksmith and he’s done bars and art projects and he’s done industrial design. He’s done all these different things and when I came to him and explained to him what I wanted to do, he was so excited by the idea that he just built it for me for free because he thought it was a pretty cool thing, which was really kind of like a major coup for me because the building of the frame is probably the biggest hurdle to get over because most people don’t have access to that type of metal working. So, once the frame was built, then it became a meticulous thing of sourcing out strange hardware that only can be bought at places like McMaster-Carr, and so ordering that, waiting for that to come in and sort of getting the sheet metal for the plate was easy to do. And, yes, it took probably about eight months time from start to finish with starts and stops, lots of hiccups along the way and

Timothy Lord: How about money? How much did it cost you money as well as time?

Mike Storey: Well, the frame, I don’t know how much the frame would have cost me if I had paid someone to do it because I got it for free. The sheet metal I think was probably $20. I really don’t even remember, it was so long ago. The component parts from JCC & Associates was the most expensive part and I think there’s like a tuner and there’s various, the transducers and the pickups and all that stuff. I think, maybe, that all came to about like $300 maybe, so that was expensive and I had the amp built custom, which I probably could have actually gotten away with because, honestly, I think, that maybe that’s a little excessive to have a custom built tube amp, but I had that built for about $300. So, maybe all in, we’re talking like $700 for a thing that would cost you $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, use it on the web and then you’d have to have it shipped. So, that’s another couple of hundred bucks and then it might not work. So, I learned how to build it and I can fix it and I can use it and I can rent it out.

Timothy Lord: Right now we’re in a smallish apartment?

Mike Storey: Yeah.

Timothy Lord: And you have this sort of wedge into a boiler room, a water heater room here. So, I don’t have a good perspective, how long is that?

Mike Storey: The frame itself is probably about 6.5 and it’s about 3 feet high.

Timothy Lord: And was it a bear to move, how heavy is that frame?

Mike Storey: It’s not too bad, it’s just that once everything is set up on it with all the components and everything, you have to move it very gingerly. So like once I moved it in here, I haven’t moved it again. And ideally it would be stored in a completely soundproof room, but I live in a Brooklyn apartment and I don’t have those types of luxuries. So, I just have to use it when I know that things are quiet.

Timothy Lord: Nowadays so many effects for music. It can be done digitally either through onboard equipment, on an instrument or tools like Pro Tools. What’s the difference here?

Mike Storey: Well, I’ll be frank. I think most people might not hear the difference or might not even want the difference. I think that the ENT plug-ins that they make digitally are probably extremely good. For me it was a learning experience to really understand how like a boutique mechanical reverb worked. I’m also very much interested in reverb chambers and I’ve experimented with that and various types of tape echoes and repeat echoes. So, for me it was a labor of love of boutique reverb. But, I think that if you live in that world where those types of things are important to you, then you start realizing that there are sort of subliminal, subconscious artifacts from mechanical artistry that don’t register with digital artistry.

So, for example, when you watch a motion picture in the theater, it’s 24 frames of film passing through light per second. It’s a plastic media. There’s little bits of dust. There’s little inconsistencies. There’s little mistakes that you’re subconsciously registering in your brain and it translates in your mind as being a plastic media and you experience it differently than an LED system, which is projected or projected light toward you or a video screen which is projected on to the wall. All these are different experiences, one is not necessarily better than the other, but you experience film differently than you experience HDTV.

And I feel the same way about sound. You can get beautiful reverbs digitally, you can capture beautiful reverb, analog reverbs like in stairwells digitally, or you can do any number of combinations; you can create something on tape, dump into Pro Tools and then run it through a plate reverb and then back into Pro Tools. And, you are still capturing aspects of the mechanical plastic media. The fact is that there is space cancellation, there is cloudiness, there is dirt and dust on this thing that you can hear that are subtle little things that remind your subconscious, your reptilian brain hears these little details and registers it as maybe more authentic, or it was just different the way that a Motown record just sounds different than a Sharon Jones record. Sharon Jones is doing something new that’s supposed to be replicating that old style, but it’s not the same thing. Two different sets of scenarios. I’m kind of babbling here.

Timothy Lord: And so you are not anti-digital though?

Mike Storey: No, no absolutely not. I’m not anti-anything, I’m curious about everything.

Timothy Lord: Well, I’d like to let our viewers see what this sounds like. You got some samples on your website?

Mike Storey: I do.

Timothy Lord: Can you show us how to get there?

Mike Storey: Sure. Don’t post my password.

Timothy Lord: I’ll look away, look.

Mike Storey: Can you shoot the computer screen or do you get the funny lines?

Timothy Lord: I will probably zoom in on it a little bit. But yeah, it actually shoots pretty well.

Mike Storey: It’s very simply I built the website myself. It’s nothing too fancy. I’m not a graphic designer. But it’s got vocal harmony samples, rock drums, jazz drums, rock guitar, jazz vocals. It’s kind of got a range of what this plate reverb is capable of doing. I’m more interested in helping people be creative and helping people discover this boutique reverb sound. So I work on a sliding scale or on a project basis and obviously, I’m working out of my house, so this is not a high-end studio. So, I’m more interested in meeting people who are doing cool projects and helping them along.

Timothy Lord: But if somebody wants to run a track through your plate reverb, they can do it from anywhere in the world.

Mike Storey: Absolutely. I’m totally accessible from around the world. So, if you live in some town in Japan or in South Africa or a small town in Iowa and there’s no plate reverb that you have access to and you got a cool project, you should look me up, because you can Dropbox files to me, snare drum, vocals, whatever, the entire song. And I can run it through my plate reverb and Dropbox the files back to you and we can do them in really high quality.

Timothy Lord: Did you build it with that in mind?

Mike Storey: No, I just built it because I wanted to put it on my own songs that I mix, and then friends kept coming up to me and saying, hey, can we put our drums through your plate reverb, can we put our vocals through your plate reverb and I’d say, hmm. Maybe I need to reach out and see whether this can become something to get other people involved with and make me make a little bit of money along the way.

Timothy Lord: But you’ve been using it on your projects too?

Mike Storey: I use it on my own projects, my friends ask me to use it on their projects, I’ve been paid to put stuff down, some prestigious bands have actually had their stuff put on here, like international touring bands, that want an analog boutique sound.

Timothy Lord: Pipe right through Brooklyn.

Mike Storey: Yeah.

Timothy Lord: That’s kind of neat.

Mike Storey: Yeah.

Timothy Lord: You are place independent. So, one more thing really is that the tech is all out there, what would be your advice to somebody who decides that they want to have their own plate reverb in their house?

Mike Storey: My recommendation for building your own plate reverb, I would say first off get the blueprints from Jim Cunningham, plan on buying all of your components from him. He’s very helpful; at least, when I built mine six years ago, he was very helpful with giving me tech support. Make sure you source out all of your parts and all of your bits and pieces first, because you’re going to want to make sure that you have everything you need to build something as obscure as this. And make sure you have space to store it and preferably a quiet place to store it. And do a little research online to maybe try out some other plate reverbs first to make sure that it’s what you want because it’s a labor of love. If I had to go back, I would definitely build it again, but other people might not have felt the same way because it did take eight months, it took a while and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Timothy Lord: Did you learn new skills along the way like, did you already have a background in soldering and construction?

Mike Storey: I already knew a little bit about soldering. I built some kit amps and stuff. So, like I said, it’s not a real technical electronic device. It was more about sourcing things, and about patience and about just sort of having the fortitude to sort of stick through trying to figure out how to build something that there was no easy roadmap.

Timothy Lord: Do you know of any others that are online the way this one is?

Mike Storey: There have been a couple of companies. There was a company that was building them for a while and I think they went out of business. There probably just wasn’t enough of a demand. It really is the kind of thing like if you really badly want one, you are just going to build it yourself. I don’t think there is a high enough of a demand that you could run a business selling the things and just churning them out, plus the shipping costs are so high, I would think. and it needs to get

Timothy Lord: But I mean is it accessible like this? Do you know of any others where it’s accessible?

Mike Storey: Oh, like mine, my business? I don’t know of anybody who is offering a service where you can Dropbox somebody files, they’ll run them through the plate reverb and Dropbox it back. It’s possible, but I haven’t seen it.

Timothy Lord: Anything I should have asked you about?

Mike Storey: How does it sound?

Timothy Lord: How does it sound?

Mike Storey: It sounds beautiful. It’s funny. It’s kind of a persnickety thing. It likes some songs and it doesn’t like others and I’ve learned to listen to it. Sometimes, I’ll think, “oh this vocal is going to sound great going through a plate reverb or this snare drum,” and it won’t and then other times, the plate reverb makes the song. And it’s kind of just a beautiful piece of kit.

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Mike Storey and His Plate Reverb (Video)

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'll run your music through my super-secret-sauce Monster Cables reverberator for only 10x what this guy is charging! That means its going to sound 10 times better. You can't go wrong with a deal like that!

  • by gazbo (517111)
    Why is Slashdot running a story about someone making a piece of simple (if awkward) equipment that has been used all over the world for decades?

    " for a (highly negotiable) fee"

    Oh, now I see. As you were.

    • by mrjb (547783) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:46PM (#41935479)
      Because it's geek-worthy. This sort of equipment has been used all over the world for decades, but is becoming obsolete. Just like vacuum tubes or computers, sure, plate reverbs have been used for decades. But how many people do you know that have ever hand-made either? As audio geek, it excites me to know people still have enough hacker spirit left in them to home-brew this sort of thing, just as much as it excited me to read about the guy who built his own computer from logic gates. Different level of complexity, same spirit. Seriously, I don't mind finding the occasional "hackaday" style post on Slashdot. Keep them coming please.
      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        Just like vacuum tubes or computers... But how many people do you know that have ever hand-made either?

        Offhand, I can think of two, one for each. The computer builder is an elder in-law, who was a logic designer and electrician for the first computer in a certain European country. The vacuum tube builder is my old physics professor, whose research involved many kinds of tubes, some of which he designed himself (though I can't really say he hand-made them, as he had professional glassblowers do the actual work while he directed).

        Oh, you were being rhetorical...

        • When I was in school, I made a vacuum tube (though of course, I called it a valve), and I did my own glass blowing.

          (it didn't work very well). I also made several pneumatic transistors, including one in which gas flow was modulated electrically, and then the gas burned in a Bunsen burner: It may not be energy efficient, but you get wicked bass!

          I also got a LOT of detention.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        The problem with most audio geeks (and I am one myself but I place myself out of this category) is that they claim certain things that either can't be true or are very difficult to verify. This whole thing with vacuum tubes is one thing, some other things include this reverb effect, vinyl clicks and pops as well as the "direction" arrows on (digital) cables that are only forged by elves during a full moon.

        For me this would be the answer:
        Does using ancient technology x produce a different sound: yes. Can you

  • I didn't use to be aware of what the studio space bring to a recording under I started collecting releases from the jazz and classical label ECM, whose uncanny founder Manfred Eicher produces nearly every recording himself in the best venue he can find. I've heard jazz recordings on ECM that might be banal under any other producer, but the studio ambience curiously becomes a sort of musical substance, endowing weight and beauty to otherwise unworthy music. For music that is great already, the production jus

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      Goodness, my typing is sloppy. The first sentence should read "I didn't use to be aware of what the studio space could bring to a recording until I started collecting releases from the jazz and classical label ECM".

      (An edit function on Slashdot would be great, at least for posters with good karma whom one can trust not to e.g. change acceptable posts into Goatse links after they've been modded to +5.)

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:39PM (#41935421)

      Plate reverb is synthetic reverb. It is done, literally, by making a large metal plate vibrate. These days it is very rarely done as an actual physical thing since it can be simulated very well digitally, and with more flexibility.

      However, any time you have a new technology, there are always "purists" who claim that it ruins everything and want to do it the old fashion way, hence there are places with real plate reverb units.

      Actual room reverb or ambiance is captured just as function of recording in that space. The micing techniques you use (like what kind of pickup, how close to the musicians and so on) controls the amount. It can also be added later to quite a high degree of realism by taking an impulse of the room and using digital convolution on the audio signal. Still not quite the same as an actual recording in the space for various reasons, but close.

      In terms of studios with famous ambiance, East West has one of the better ones out there. They bought the Cello Studios in California and there are some very good sounding rooms there. On account of that, many acts hire out the space to record in. It is also where they record their own samples, of course.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        I hear one act found some interesting reverb for recording at Headley Grange [] for their sounds.

        Heck, I think they even had a hit or two from those sessions....?

      • I want to say that a high-sampling rate A-D convertor with a good bit of software at a high clock/slewing rate ought to do the job. I've heard these things do a good job.

        And I have an amp with 4) 6L6GC tubes in push-pull with a huge fat transformer and a king-hell power supply shred the living crap out of the tastiest solid-state amp I've used. It has a damnable spring reverb in it that sounds far, far better than the high-slew rate Line6 amps I've used.

        I'm not so sure that we're getting the analog-digital

        • the a/d stuff is not hard to do well.

          dac, otoh, is hard to do well.

          not sure why, but it seems to be so, from the industry guys I hang out with.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        I've always thought it's ironic that electric instrument players get all excited about a crude way to add artificial distortion to the artificial sounds produced by their artificial instruments. If you really want "the analog experience" go get yourself a wooden acoustical instrument and get the reverb you want by playing in the appropriate room.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I've always thought it's ironic that electric instrument players get all excited about a crude way to add artificial distortion to the artificial sounds produced by their artificial instruments. If you really want "the analog experience" go get yourself a wooden acoustical instrument and get the reverb you want by playing in the appropriate room.

          Electric instruments of the traditional kind are about as analog as you can possible get while involving electrons. I don't see the irony.

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            It involves electrons. Instruments traditionally don't. If you're going to get excited about the horrors of digital signal processing, go all the way and get excited about the horrors of electronic signal processing.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              It involves electrons. Instruments traditionally don't.

              Electrons are smaller than air molecules, so I don't see the problem. :)

        • The tone is the tone, however it is created, and the tone should always serve the song. I often find myself turning to my acoustic guitar for inspiration because there is something about the instant, expressive playability of acoustic instruments that, for me at least, engenders the best kind of creativity. Still, the goal should be to find and use whatever serves the song. I have more electronic compositions than acoustic, and the good ones are just as good.

          Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek [], for example, gain

    • by Threni (635302)

      Some of the artists on ECM hate that sound and have left the label and /or left the label precisely because of it.

      • by CRCulver (715279)
        Cite? I've only read stories about artists happy to move from another label to ECM in order to get that ECM sound. It would be interesting to read the stories of dissenters.
  • by Nutria (679911) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:20PM (#41935205)

    DDD audio CDs are the purist sound because there's no possible tape hiss or snap/crackle/degradation of needle on vinyl.

    • by captaindomon (870655) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:26PM (#41935283)
      Sitting down with a bag of popcorn...
      • by mrjb (547783)
        Joining in on the popcorn. The fireworks should start any moment now.
    • by MonkeyPaw (8286)

      Not to mention you can pump any sort of frequency into a digital recording and not have to worry about jumping a needle out of a groove if it contains too many low, rubbery bass notes.

      People are still holding onto the original digital recordings from the 80's - the tinny, horrid ones - as an argument for vinyl.

    • Except for the fact that it only records frequencies up to 22.05 KHz which drop most all 3rd/4th order harmonics from many instruments.
      • by msauve (701917)

        it only records frequencies up to 22.05 KHz which drop most all 3rd/4th order harmonics from many instruments

        The highest note on a piano, C8, is 4186.01 Hz (piccolo is the same). 4th harmonic would be 16,744.04 Hz. Most [] instruments are lower than that. What are you talking about?

        Most people can't hear above 20 KHz, so it simply doesn't matter.

        Finally, if you're in the very small minority who can hear higher frequencies, DVD audio supports up to 192 KHz sampling.

        • by drkim (1559875)

          The highest note on a piano, C8, is 4186.01 Hz (piccolo is the same). 4th harmonic would be 16,744.04 Hz....What are you talking about?

          Maybe hearing things like the letter 's.' Or bells. Or splash cymbals and high hat..? (From 16384 to 32768 Hz)

      • by Nutria (679911)

        Not being a dog, I can't hear those beyond-20KHz 3rd/4th order harmonics so it completely irrelevant that they aren't recorded.

        • by CRCulver (715279)
          While only dogs can hear the tones themselves, the beats [] produced by those high-frequency sounds against lower--frequency sounds are audible to humans. Besides simply providing a feeling of fullness to music one hears in a hall that may seem missing from a recording, the concept has even been used to musical effect. For example, there's a dramatic passage in Per Norgard's Symphony No. 5 where one of the percussionists is instructed to blow through a pair of dog whistles, challenging the pure intonation of t
          • And those beats (the mixing products that exist below the sampling frequency) will be captured on the digital recording. There are also high frequency product at the sum of the original frequencies which will be lost, but even dogs won't hear them.
            • by CRCulver (715279)
              Difference tones are a psychoacoustic phenomenon. They have no physical reality that can be captured on a recording. Only if the playback equipment is able to produce the original two frequencies will listeners hear them.
              • by amorsen (7485)

                Surely if the ear cannot hear the original two frequencies, it won't be able to hear the difference tone if it is a psychoacoustic phenomenon? And then it doesn't matter that the equipment cannot record or play back those frequencies.

              • Wrong. The phenomenon is real -- physical, not phycho-acoustic. It is the pressure-wave analog of a radio heterodyne [].
                • I take that back. Heterodyne is non-linear phenomenon (multiplication of signals, rather than addition). If dog whistle beats are audible, the explanation is different.
                  • by unitron (5733)

                    Well, multiplication in the sense that you put 2 frequencies in and get 4 out, the other 2 being the sum and the difference of the first two, with only the difference being of any use in an IF strip.

                    I suppose that one could argue that the sum and difference then beat against each other and the first 2, and the results of that beat against everything, and the results of that...

                    But that would be true of 2 frequencies of sound in the same room as well.

                    Of course reverb is more about reflections at the same freq

                    • It is multiplication. The mixer in radio is nonlinear so that the sum and product signals result from the trig identity: sin(theta)*sin(phi) = cos(theta-phi)/2 - cos(theta+phi)/2. Additive combination of signals does not produce lower frequencies that could be filtered out.
              • by OneAhead (1495535)
                Nope, these beats are a physical phenomenon that occurs whenever two waves travel through the same medium. Its mathematical description is very simple and it's commonly taught in Physics 101 classes.
                I think you're confused with binaural beats, where the brain essentially simulates the interference between two tones that are not traveling through the same medium (assuming headphones are being used). Now, if you can demonstrate audible binaural beats between two
          • The beats are actually producing a lower frequency sound, hence why you can hear it. A band limited system has no problems capturing it.

            It turns out that really, digital sampling does the trick. All the arguments people come up with against it come from not understanding how it works, and not understanding how human hearing works.

            So yes, if you create an interference pattern between two high frequency waves the results is a lower frequency wave, one that is quite real. As such when it applies to acoustics a

            • by unitron (5733)

              If you create an interference pattern between two high frequency waves, one of the results, the difference, is a lower frequency wave.

              The other one, the sum, is an even higher frequency.

              Of course if the first two waves are of frequencies above the range we call "sound" the sum will be as well.

              The difference might be below, within, or above the range we call "sound", depending on the frequencies chosen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by msauve (701917)

      DDD audio CDs are the purist [sic] sound because there's no possible tape hiss or snap/crackle/degradation of needle on vinyl.

      And here I always thought the purest sound was live music.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NardoPolo88 (1417637) []

      It's not that it's more pure. It's that vinyl is usually mastered correctly and thus sounds better.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        Only *recently* has digital music been crappily mastered.

        There's a reason that classical music fans flocked to CDs (note that I wrote CD, not MP3) in the 1980s.

        • by Khyber (864651)

          Recently? 1996 or so is when they started mega-compressing the shit out of everything. That's quite a fair time in teh history of actual recording.

          • by Nutria (679911)

            Mega-compress music to be put on CDs? That makes no sense.

            • by Khyber (864651)

              Then perhaps you should go learn how a compresser/limiter works.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      The problem is people have an emotional attachment to particular failure modes. Maybe their mom played it while breastfeeding them, or daddy put that record on before beating them. Whatever the reason, people prefer "comfortable" failure modes, and reverb is a failure mode, as is most everything else described as "warm" or that's hard to imitate/recreate with digital.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        It's not failure mode if it's intentional.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          It only became "intentional" after the first unintentional failure and someone said "cool, lets do that again." That, and your logic asserts that a crashed car is not damaged if the crash test was intentional. That doesn't hold up. Causing a failure mode for fun still causes a failure, even if intentional.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      Not exactly. Audio CDs are fundamentally digital, which means that you are representing a smooth curve with a (non-infinite) series of square blocks. It'll never be perfect no matter what you do. The only sound you can record digitally with perfection is from a digital source... which you will note is typically looked down on in most kinds of music (at least, most music that you would consider listening to on vinyl), and for good reason. Music is almost always fundamentally analog, so recording it using an

      • by geekoid (135745)

        " (at least, most music that you would consider listening to on vinyl)"
        you mean music the really pops?

        vinyl - Scratching and popping before hip hop.

      • by drkim (1559875)

        Not exactly. Audio CDs are fundamentally digital, which means that you are representing a smooth curve with a (non-infinite) series of square blocks. It'll never be perfect no matter what you do. The only sound you can record digitally with perfection is from a digital source... which you will note is typically looked down on in most kinds of music (at least, most music that you would consider listening to on vinyl), and for good reason. Music is almost always fundamentally analog, so recording it using an analog technique makes a lot of sense, from a purist point of view.

        This is wrong in so many ways I don't know where to begin.

        Using the same twisted logic I could make the argument that a vinyl record can only truly reproduce the sounds of musical instruments that use a diamond needle thrust into a piece of plastic. We should only take pictures of people with cameras made out of human flesh.

        Making a "series of square blocks" reproduce a sine wave is easy if the blocks are small enough and you smooth the resulting waveform beyond the limits of the human ear to hear the diffe

  • Room Reverb (Score:4, Informative)

    by djbckr (673156) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:35PM (#41935377)
    I worked in a recording studio that had a nice, large, live room - no parallel walls (including the ceiling/floor). Very often we would use that room as the reverb in our mixdowns. A single high-end speaker in one end and a couple of nice mics on the other was the sweetest reverb you could get. If you have a good sized garage that is "bouncy", you can get a nice short verb out of that.
    • by mrjb (547783)

      If you have a good sized garage that is "bouncy", you can get a nice short verb out of that.

      Yes, you can, but since you don't have control over the positioning of the walls, they'll be likely to be parallel and thus cause standing waves, which will sound pretty nasty in reverb. To counter that, it helps to randomly scatter the sound waves. Given the choice, a garage with a car parked in it will probably sound better than an empty one. Most impressive live reverb I ever heard in my life was an underground

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        One night I was walking on Pacific ave. in Santa Cruz not very long after the '89 quake and there was this dude playing sax in a doorway or maybe window of the shell of the old bank building, whose insides had been demolished. It sounded really amazing. And to bring geek interest into the story, the building was later re-remodeled into retail plus office space and the upstairs became the office of TGV, which was later purchased by Cisco. That's where TGV went to die, and it's where Cisco did their DOCSIS 1.

      • by unitron (5733)

        "Given the choice, a garage with a car parked in it will probably sound better than an empty one."

        Well, if it's a cherry '57 Chevy with the original optional mechanical fuel injection, then sure.

        Although nothin' beats the effect on the sound that a 59 Caddy's tail fins have.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been a recording engineer for many decades. The notion that plate reverbs are "the purest type" is laughable. Typical internet product-mojo hogwash.

    Plate reverbs have a very distinct sound, as do spring reverbs. If a plate reverb sound is desired for a project, it's perfectly reasonable for a 'purist" to prefer a REAL plate to a digitally modeled plate. No issue with that.

    Digital (DSP) acoustic reverb modeling has been in use since the 80's with Yamaha's and Lexicon's units paving the way. Its emulatio

  • I was at Warner's (Score:3, Informative)

    by doginthewoods (668559) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:42PM (#41935445)
    And they had 5 of the Ecoplate monsters. They have a sound all to their own - bigger, fuller, warmer, with more depth, that couldn't be duplicated any other way, and Warners had about every type of reverb at the studio. You have to sit in a control room, listening through great monitors like Westlakes, to hear what they do to vocals and drums. For voice, a good C12 and an Ecoplate will put a S$^t eatin' grin on any engineer's face.
  • by objekt (232270) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:44PM (#41935461) Homepage

    Nice. Digital samples processed through analog reverb and digitized again.

    Analog is SO MUCH better than sucky digital.

  • Phil Spector (Score:4, Informative)

    by edelbrp (62429) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:49PM (#41935515)

    had a technique where he would pipe the audio from the recording studio down to a basement where loudspeakers played the audio and picked it back up on microphones and back to the control room. I always thought that it would be fun to try if I had access to a large warehouse or something.

    • by Nkwe (604125) on Friday November 09, 2012 @05:21PM (#41935803)

      had a technique where he would pipe the audio from the recording studio down to a basement where loudspeakers played the audio and picked it back up on microphones and back to the control room.

      In college I worked at a mufti-purpose coliseum. The building could be a basketball arena or by dropping in curtains at one end a large theater. Behind the curtains were big speakers. An analog audio processing system was used to make the walls sound "solid" - this was before digital processing was popular. Part of the analog audio processing was this oddly shaped room with a speaker at one end, a microphone at the other, and zig-zag baffles in between. The room acted as a delay and echo chamber. It worked great with one exception. The architects put the bathrooms right over the echo chamber...

  • by diffserv (2771277) on Friday November 09, 2012 @04:50PM (#41935519)
    somewhere along the lines of history, they added the 'reverb' knob to amps - and from there, people seemed to think any form of DECAY is REVERB.

    it is not, although many use it as slang. but most do not appear to understand the true definition of REVERB and thus REVERBERANT SOUND-FIELD, and the volume requirements required to support such energy flows.

    a reverberant sound-field is one where the energy flows are statistically equal and probable in every direction. one cannot resolve an indirect specular reflection's gain, time arrival (with respect to the direct signal), and vector (direction). the energy is "well-mixed".

    and the bounded acoustical space's volume required to support such a reverberant sound-field at a given frequency is dictated by Dr. Manfred Schroeders work in this field - and also his FsubL equation.

    without the existence of a statistically "random-incidence" "diffuse-field", you do not have "reverb".

    people seem to imply any form of signal decay or acoustical decay of a bounded space as being "reverb". this is entirely incorrect. in small acoustical spaces that lack the volume to support a reverberant sound-field at a given frequency, we instead of focused specular reflections and modal issues - all local areas of variable pressure with respect to the ambient noise floor. what reverberation that DOES exist is above our hearing range and below the ambient noise floor. this is also why you do not have a critical-distance (Dc) of which the reverberant sound-field becomes louder in gain than the direct signal. this is also why RTxx (RT60) calculations and Sabine's equations are entirely irrelevant unless one is within a Large Acoustical Space.

    and now with Plate Reverbs or any other "FX" knob that applies a form of decay to a signal ... the propagation of incorrect use (eg, hijacking) of the term REVERB continues. []
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Dr. Manfred Schroeders work was about how to measure reverb. Specifically energy and not power.

      THAT allowed for excellent mimicking of reverb through artificial means.

      "Sabine's equations are entirely irrelevant unless one is within a Large Acoustical Space."
      Wrong. depends on absorption rate. Try eliminating all reverb form a small marble room.

      Once again someone from hometheatershack is very close to being correct, yet still managed to fumble the ball.

  • ". But what if you're the sort of purist who prefers the analog sound of vinyl records to the digital sound of MP3s or CDs?
    that's 'hipster' not 'purist'.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      yeah, a true purist wouldn't use a plate reverb but would instead build an actual room with the acoustics he/she wants. this guy is more like an "analogist"...

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday November 09, 2012 @05:55PM (#41936227) Homepage Journal

    If you go to the UofC's computer music lab, you'll find a plate reverb that I built in the 1980s. I've got a spring reverb from a trashed Fender amp from the 60's and even a chamber reverb that I built in an unused shower in the basement bathroom here at the house.

    I especially love the reverbs based on solid media. I did music way back when that used the harp from an upright grand piano as the reverb medium. It was only adjustable in the crudest way, but there was something about the different string thicknesses that gave it a very nice, complex texture.

    Nowadays? As much as I'd like to say "The old ways were the best", convolution and synthesized reverbs have absolutely surpassed the old stuff. (though I've got an old bucket brigade analog delay that has a wild sound that I cannot replicate with the newer technologies).

    • by hguorbray (967940)
      yea, my old progrock band Netherworld recorded our only album in 1982 with a gorgeous EMT plate reverb, but even then lexicon and others were coming out with digital reverbs and as you say, the convolution reverbs that you hear on bands like Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear are absolutely amazing.

      The big limitation of the plate and other physical reverbs were, that apart from a little control over pre-reverb delay and the decay and tone the 'size' of the reverb was basically fixed. Now
    • by unitron (5733)

      If you're talking about the actual guts of a piano with the stings attached, tuned, and not damped, but free to vibrate, then I don't think that's reverberation, that's re-radiation.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        If you're talking about the actual guts of a piano with the stings attached, tuned, and not damped, but free to vibrate, then I don't think that's reverberation, that's re-radiation.

        Strings attached, not tuned, fully damped, and several transducers.

        The goal was to use the harp of a piano in place of a spring. It wasn't too useful as an all-purpose reverb, but that's not what we were going for. We were just trying to see what stuff made what noise

        I like "re-radiate" too, though, as well as using the closed

  • Silophone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Beorytis (1014777) on Friday November 09, 2012 @06:43PM (#41936851)
    For free, you can send your sounds into a grain silo in Quebec for reverberation: [] Unfortunately, this project is so old it uses RealAudio.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Ha, I go past there every day on my way to work. I always wondered why they don't tear it down. Now I know it's at least being put to better use than most of the other eyesores.

  • In high school. I didn't even have a spring, so I wrapped a piece of wire tightly around a pencil and then slid it off the end. Put this between two pieces of plastic at the ends of a cardboard tube (section of wrapping paper tube). Glued a little 3" speaker to one end and a mic the other. Played some sound through it. It sounded like total crap - as if someone was talking / playing music in a garbage can. But reverberate it did. So the lesson was that it's easy, but as expected using quality components is
  • Anyone else note "although his biggest piece of advice for you (at the end of the video) " in the original post, and wonder where in hell the video is located?
  • One of the most basic principles of signal processing is the impulse response - how a system reacts to a unit pulse of zero time.

    An interesting aspect is that sound, when digitized using PCM is just a series of impulses of varying heights. If you convolve the impulse response with the input signal, you get a signal that "sounds like" you sent it through the original system.

    The real trick is getting the impulse response - where you put the microphones determines where you "hear" it, and where you set off the

  • Apart from the usual nit-picking over audiophile and their slightly fetish-like obsessions with materials, this device is going to pick up environment sounds. A good plate reverb must be well shielded. This one isn't, and his apartment is pretty noisy, judging by the video.

    And wrt convolution: the normal convolution reverbs are simple FIR convolvers, which is a highly idealized model. In reality, processes are never finite (but we don't care, if the sampled response is long enough), but more importantly the

  • by zuki (845560) on Saturday November 10, 2012 @04:03AM (#41940625) Journal
    I would like to mention that with due respect to Ecoplate there are many seasoned audio professionals who would argue that the best reverbs are proper acoustic chambers like Capitol Studios' basement rooms, the Power Station's stairwells in NYC or the ones rumoured to be at Abbey Road and Air Studios in the UK.

    As far as getting awesome plate reverb, there'll be some who will say that a pair of well-tuned and maintained mono tube EMT 140 units ganged together as a stereo effect is pretty much unbeatable. But the maintenance and tuning is a real lost art that very few techs remember. Also equally worthy of mention is the EMT 240 gold-foil plate, which has a sound of it own and has arguably been used on so many records that it is a necessary part of a producer's arsenal to get certain vintage sounds.

    Although looked on as black sheeps by many fancy mix engineers, spring reverbs like the ones used back in the day at King Tubby's and Lee Scratch Perry's studios in Jamaica are something that just cannot be emulated with software, and have become such an integral part of the sound of Reggae that some pundits might find it a bit disingenuous to say that Ecoplates are that superior. Just as much, many producers used to splash AKG BX-10 and BX-20 spring reverb on many a track to the point that that sound became an important part of pop music in the late 60's and 70's.

    So I'd venture to say that for anyone reading this who hasn't had experience with the gear mentioned those pronouncements about Ecoplate being so incredible should clearly be taken as a matter of someone's taste, aesthetic and cultural biases, rather than as fact.

    I did not even bother going into the high-end digital reverb category, with serious contenders from Quantec, Bricasti, EMT, Sony, Lexicon, TC Electronics and other brands, many of which have found favor with all of today's price-is-no-object top mix engineers.

    Just the same way a Neumann U-47 microphone can sound pretty bad when not used properly if either of its irreplaceable VF-14m tube inside or its gold-foil capsule have gone to the dogs, this is yet another illustration of what an inexact science audio production really is.

    As always, use your ears!
  • virtually every FOSS or proprietary sound-editing program

    Was there a need to list both types of software? Or is there another type of software, that has sound-editing programs that doesn't include this?
    Or was this just another way to toss "FOSS" out there?

  • Plate and spring reverb units will produce different output a good ear can hear depending on where the unit is located. I.e a norther high altitude location will have a sound that is different than a sea level equator location. There are issues with gravity waves as well.

    He seems to drag on what is really much simpler, like the interview is being run though the reeeeeeevvvvvvvvvvvverrrrrrrb

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all alike.