Check out this demo of Plate Echo — "the greatest studio effect of all time"

Originally published at: Check out this demo of Plate Echo — "the greatest studio effect of all time" | Boing Boing


I want one.


I echo that sentiment.


Love this. “Plate” has always been a setting on a digital effects device to me, so seeing this analogue contraption is great.


Fran’s cool and knows her onions <3


iunno if Berry Gordy was too cheap to buy one, or if his use pre-dated the Plate, but when you go to the Motown museum, you can see their DIY echo chamber. their version is huge, though; much bigger than the Plate. it is so big, in fact, that it could not even remotely fit in the studio. so, they put it on the roof and just wired up an input and an output back down to the studio. fucking brilliant. (edit: well, I guess it did “remotely” fit, darn those figurative turns-of-phrase)

I can’t remember it clearly, but there must be a cutout in the ceiling. when you’re on the top floor of the museum, the guide explains all this and tells you to look up and you can see it.

I’m far from a Motown superfan, but the museum is really well-done just as a museum. if you’re ever in Detroit, it can’t be missed. also, the Detroit Institute of Art is pretty nearby, and it has a giant 3-story room with wrap-around Diego Rivera murals, among many other delights.


Sunset Sound has several echo chambers as well. The plate echo was basically what “democratized” echo / reverb, for those who couldn’t afford to set up large rooms solely to bounce sound around in.

It’s funny that the author of the video used “Riders on the Storm” as an example of the effect, as that recording was done through the “Studio One” chamber at Sunset, and is not a plate at all.



I honestly like plate reverb over spring reverb for its depth, but the attribution of plate for things that used natural reverb in the 60’s here is really dishonest.

The spirit of technical creativity continued weeks later back in New York City. In an effort to fulfill his love of big natural reverb, producer Halee rang up session drummer Hal Blaine, who eventually found himself standing alongside a large empty elevator shaft inside Columbia’s East 52nd Street studio building on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon.

“There we were with all these mic cables, my drums, and a set of headphones,” says Blaine. “When the chorus came around — the ‘lie-la-lie’ bit — Roy had me come down on my snare drum as hard as I could. In that hallway, right next to this open elevator shaft, it sounded like a cannon shot! Which was just the kind of sound we were after.”

And why not:


The Echoplate sounds great for sure. However, I think some of the presenters history about who used it and on what time scale is completely wrong. She says the company that made it was founded in 1978, almost all the artist she quotes made their best work years before then. Heck, Jim Morrison was dead for almost 10 years! It does have a great sound but like the Fairlight (synthetized keyboard, if you could even call it that) that came up just a few years later it got innovated out of he the market with much less expensive, more compact, practical solutions.

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Ya think?

(Motown Studio A reverb tank for the “sonar ping” conga slap.)

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So pleased to see Fran on BB. She’s awesome and everyone should watch her. :grinning:


Another great echo but not practical for studio purposes


It reverberates with me.


If you don’t have one of those handy, a long section of 8’ storm sewer pipe is pretty amazing for echoes.

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In this (iPlayer, you may or may not be able to access and this episode will expire soon) Helen Czerski goes inside that oil storage tunnel and also into a huge anechoic chamber.
Interesting stuff.

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while reading your link, I found a better explanation of what I was trying to describe vis-a-vis the Motown echo chamber. and it says there was also a plate echo unit but not sure it’s the same as the OP.

But for all their cutting-edge gadgets, one of the most iconic elements of the Motown Sound comes from a decidedly low-tech effect: the echo chamber. A speaker and a microphone sat permanently wired up in the attic of Hitsville, which had been drywalled and coated with shellac but otherwise untreated. During mixing, engineers would pipe certain tracks through the speaker, record the reverberation with the microphone, and blend it into the mix to add a sense of space. This effect is clearly audible on the foot-stomps at the beginning of The Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go.”

In addition to the echo chamber, Motown also had an EMT 140 plate reverb and an Echoplex tape delay unit they’d use from time to time

I’ve seen this before and think she is one of the good ones!

Yes I agree that the history of the tech is off but I’m thinking that the opening idea about emulating acoustic space, reverb and echo is a fundamental revolution in recording technology is a way more interesting path to follow.

The fact that folk are commenting on the different technical systems would be testament to her proposition that this is the first ‘audio effect’ of importance.

(Compression and EQ are more shaping tools than an effect)

Nice. Yep, the plate existed there as well. The chamber echo effect came before though. “Plate” became an option later, as it did in other studios. Now we all fake it with computer effects.

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can all the parameters be programmed into the computer, i.e. LxWxH of the chamber, the reflectivity of the surface (Motown’s shellaced drywall vs tile vs unfinished wood etc) and the type of speaker and mic, and their placement within the space?

in other words, would a quality pro studio have any advantage to building a custom physical echo chamber nowadays or is it pointless since you can just tweak protools for every parameter?

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