that unique plate reverb sound

Unlike digital reverberation, the plate reverb is one of the true analog attempts in recreating convincing reverberation build right into a studio device. It is basically an electro-mechanical device containing a plate of steel, transducers and a contact microphone to pickup the induced vibrations from that plate.

The sound is basically determined by the physical properties of the plate and its mechanical damping. Its not about reflecting waves from the plates surface but about the propagation of waves within the plate. While the plate itself has a fixed, regular shaped size and can be seen as a flat (two dimensional) room itself it actually does not produce early reflection patterns as we are used to from real rooms with solid walls. In fact there are no such reflections distinguishable by human hearing. On the other hand there appears to be a rather instant onset and the reverb build-up has a very high modal density already.

Also reverb diffusion appears to be quite unique within the plate. The wave propagation through metal performs different compared to air (e.g. speed/frequency wise) and also the plate itself – being a rather regular shape with a uniform surface and material – defines the sound. This typically results in a very uniform reverb tail although the higher frequencies tend to resonate a little bit more. Also due to the physics and the damping of the plate, we usually do not see hear very long decay times.

All in all, the fast and consistent reverb build up combined with its distinct tonality defines that specific plate reverb sound and explains why it is still so much beloved even after decades. The lack of early reflections can be easily compensated for just by adding some upfront delay lines to improve stereo localization if a mix demands it. The other way around, the plate reverb makes a perfect companion for all kinds of delay effects.

the twisted world of guitar pedals II

Meanwhile I had the opportunity to put my hands on some Fairfield Circuitry effect pedal stuff mentioned earlier here and the “Meet Maude” analog BBD delay was right here on my desk for a deeper inspection. My actual experience was a rather mixed one.

Focusing on a rather dark and LoFi sound quality on the one hand plus a rather simplistic feature set concept wise on the other, they do not appear to be very flexible in practise and this at a rather steep price point. They appear to be very noisy featuring all kinds of artifacts even when integrated to the mixing desk via reamping. One may call this the feature itself but at the end it makes it a one-trick pony. If you need exactly that, here you have it but you get nothing beyond that. To me this trade off was too big and so I send it back.

However, I found their nifty low pass gate implementation (very prominently featured within their “Shallow Water”) that much unique and interesting that I replicated it as a low pass filter alternative in software and to have it available e.g. for filtering delay lines in my productions. The “Shallow Water” box made me almost pull the trigger but all in all I think this stuff seems to be a little bit over-hyped thanks to the interwebs. This pretty much sums it up for now, end of this affair.

Timeline & BigSky – The new dust collectors?

Going into the exact opposite direction might be a funny idea and so I grabbed some Strymon stuff which aims to be the jack of all trades at least regarding digital delay and reverb in a tiny stomp box aka desktop package. To be continued …

Further readings about BBD delays:

the twisted world of guitar pedals I

Quite recently I had a closer look into the vast amount of (guitar) effect pedals out there. Most are already DSP based which surprised me a little bit since I still ecpected more discrete analog designs after all. While looking for some neat real analog BBD delay I finally stumbled across Fairfield Circuitry’s “Meet Maude” which got me intrigued, having a rather rough look&feel at first sight but some very delicate implementation details under the hood.

Their delay modulation circuit has some randomness build in and also there is a compression circuit in the feedback loop – both designs I’ve also choosen for NastyDLA and which makes a big impact on the overall sound for granted. But the real highlight is the VCF in the delay feedback path which actually appears to be a low-pass gate – a quite unique design and soundwise also different but appealing in its very own regard.

They employed very similar concepts to their vibrato/chorus box “Shallow Water” featuring also random delay modulation and a low pass gate but this time a little bit more prominent on the face plate. On top, their JFET op-amp adds some serious grit to any kind of input signal. All in all, I did not expect such a bold but niche product to exist. If I ever will own such a thingy, there will be a much more detailed review here for sure.

The Korg SDD-3000 – perfect for LoFi?

By accident, I recently stumbled upon the UAD Korg SDD-3000 digital delay version. When I noticed that they modelled also its amplifiers as well as the 13bit converters they immediately got my attention. Having also high- and low-pass filters on board, this could easily double as a great lofi device – so lets have a closer look.

As in the original hardware, the device offers several gain stage adjustments for both input and ouptut, intended to match different instrument or line level signals. These amplifiers are always in, no matter if the BYPASS switch is activated or not. Interestingly, UA also integrated this in its “Unison” interface feature as an preamp option.

Depending on how hard the input gain is driven, quite heavy distortion and saturation effects can occur. As soon as the Bypass is deactivated, the effect signal path containing the 13bit converted and HP/LP filtered signal can be dialed in with the LEVEL BALANCE. If this balance is now set to EFFECT only or just the WET SOLO option has been turned on (plus avoiding any amounts of feedback in this case) the device now offers a pretty much nicely degraded signal path for any sort of creative effects. Depending on the actual settings one can dial in now some really creamy or even gritty effects. Be aware, that this signal path contains an additional delay according to the DELAY TIME setting, of course.

The analysis charts are showing – from left to right – the basic frequency response (in bypass mode), some example harmonic distortions when hitting the input gain quite hard and the filtered effect signal path frequency response according to the UI settings above. The slight frequency bump on the right side of the charts might be caused by the plugin oversampling filters – the original hardware does not show this and its spectrum ends somewhere around 17kHz.

As in the original hardware, all settings are just within limited ranges and so it is not that flexible in general. However, soundwise its pretty much awesome. Oh and by the way, it also doubles as a simple but impressive delay 😉

how to mix a hit record

Featuring NastyDLA and FerricTDS.

utilizing early reflections in a production

A quite often underestimated or even forgotten production technique is to take advantage of artificial early reflections which could be added somewhere during the mixing process. Without inserting any fully fledged reverberation at all, applying such techniques allows to dramatically increase stereo width and depth perception as well as a way better instrument localization even in a busy mix. Creating density is not the goal here but the opposite is the name of the game: achieving a clear and intelligible mix.

In a simple case, one can place a short and plain delay (a slap-back echo) on a track and properly place it in the stereo field – maybe on the opposite side of the source but that’s just an example. More sophisticated tap delays could be used to create a sort of room experience and some reverberators are allowing to disable the late reverb diffusion and just to use their early reflection generation. There are no restrictions in general – allowed is what gets the job done in that specific mixing situation.

Soehngenetic – Wise Kids on Pillows (2012)

Music taken from the 2012 Soehngenetic album “Pseudolectual”. Super 8 material filmed by Hans Söhngen in 1982. For more information please visit

If you are into electronic music then don’t miss to check out Soehngenetic’s just released album “Pseudolectual”, available on bandcamp:
It’s worth mentioning that although he owns gear like a space echo and some BBD delays, on this production NastyDLA was used almost exclusively.


NastyDLA mkII version released

NastyDLA mkII – A classic chorus echo device with tape-delay simulation

  • classic chorus and echo effects
  • authentic signal path coloration
  • tape-delay style feedback and saturation

The mkII version of this plug-in is  an overall technical redesign and features “stateful saturation” algorithms for an improved sound experience and changes several things under the hood. Basically, NastyDLA mkII  remains feature wise the very same but introduces the input stage modelled by this new and exciting technology and also redesigns the tape compression algorithm for an improved IM distortion performance. In general, the distortion generation appears to be more analog like and the perception of width and depth has been improved significantly. [Read more…]

the many shapes of delay


About the different applications of audio delay effects.

There are quite a number of different types and applications for the audio delay effect in the audio production ranging from plain technical delay application up to all the musical and creative ranges of application. The rather technical or correctional delay typically is a plain digital delay which serves as a sample accurate alignment tool. Such alignments might be necessary for example for plug-in delay compensation (when a plug-in introduces latency) or during the mixing process to align a group of recorded tracks or samples. The so-called pre-delay can also be seen as an alignment sort of thing where the direct source signal has to be aligned in a positive or negative manner in relation to a processed signal, e.g. in a reverb effect. [Read more…]

reverb and delay, retro style