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How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?
Old 12th May 2013
  #1
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jtienhaara's Avatar
 

How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?

This line of questioning might switch to the Geekslutz forum as I find out more but...

I've contacted someone who has an EMT 140 which "needs to be rebuilt". The plate is apparently fine, and "the buffer" is fine -- though I'm not sure if "the buffer" refers to the springs, or electronics??? In any case I would like to start my plate reverb education right now.

What kinds of issues are common with old, delapidated plate reverbs? What kinds of issues are cheap to fix, and which ones are costly? What are the most important things I should I be asking about and looking for?

I'd also appreciate hearing about the differences in EMT 140 models (mono, stereo, tube, solid state, how many versions were there?).

Please school me GearSlutz!

Johann
Old 12th May 2013
  #2
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abechap024's Avatar
 

Well the hardest part and most expensive part (at least to me) is the mechanical stuff...the plate, frame and clamps and stuff. It that stuff is all ok (some corrosion and junk is fine) I would go for it.
Electronics are comparitivley cheap and would be easy to repair/replace. Pickups are also fairly easy to find for about 100$ a piece. Driver you can get too
Old 12th May 2013
  #3
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RoundBadge's Avatar
I have a martinsound SS one.amazing but a hassle when it requires a housecall from the tech..electronics are pretty easy to remove and take to him but the big stuff is heavy very hard to move.
Old 12th May 2013
  #4
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nicpope's Avatar
 

bring a tech to check it out with you.
Old 12th May 2013
  #5
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You guys are awesome, helpful replies while I sleep!

RoundBadge have you ever run into problems with the big stuff? If so, what kinds of issues? Broken springs, damaged driver, ...? Roughly what was involved in fixing those types of problems?

abechap024 are there any frame / clamp issues you can think of that would NOT be obvious to the (untrained) eye?

I will watch this EXCELLENT video again several times before going to see the 140 in question. But since this would be a learning project and a labour of love for me, I don't plan on bringing a tech. Is that a mistake?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Mye5v4ThQ

I gather, from another YouTube video, that the EMT 140 manual is quite good. Does anyone by any chance have a scanned copy that does not involve RapidShare and password protected rar files?

Thanks Slutz! Cheers,

Johann
Old 12th May 2013
  #6
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analogtodd's Avatar
 

Not a whole lot to go wrong. They are big, but move fairly easily.
I just had this one delivered last night. Flawless move.
Its really clean, ZERO corrosion anywhere!!!
When shipping, follow the shipping tips Dan wrote up years ago and you'll be fine.
EMT Tips
Attached Thumbnails
How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-emt3.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-emt2.jpg  
Old 12th May 2013
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogtodd View Post
Not a whole lot to go wrong. They are big, but move fairly easily.
I just had this one delivered last night. Flawless move.
Its really clean, ZERO corrosion anywhere!!!
When shipping, follow the shipping tips Dan wrote up years ago and you'll be fine.
EMT Tips
Old 12th May 2013
  #8
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Try to find clips. This is the biggest problem with plates today. Finding clips. And you can't tune them without spare clips. So it better sound great before you buy or forget it. And transport with care.

Otherwise they are pretty much bulletproof and mechanically simple. I'd listen for noisy electronics, and the decay to see if the plate needs tuning, or if the clips are broken.
Old 13th May 2013
  #9
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
You guys are awesome, helpful replies while I sleep!

RoundBadge have you ever run into problems with the big stuff? If so, what kinds of issues? Broken springs, damaged driver, ...? Roughly what was involved in fixing those types of problems?

abechap024 are there any frame / clamp issues you can think of that would NOT be obvious to the (untrained) eye?

I will watch this EXCELLENT video again several times before going to see the 140 in question. But since this would be a learning project and a labour of love for me, I don't plan on bringing a tech. Is that a mistake?

EMT 140 demo (Sabella Studios) - YouTube

I gather, from another YouTube video, that the EMT 140 manual is quite good. Does anyone by any chance have a scanned copy that does not involve RapidShare and password protected rar files?

Thanks Slutz! Cheers,

Johann
psu recapped and a very low buzz/hum/modulating sound eliminated/noise floor dropped but no problems with the plate clips or drivers yet.it came from paramount scoring stages and was well maintained.
Old 13th May 2013
  #10
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jtienhaara's Avatar
 

Love you Slutz!

Greg are there any "early warning" signs that the clips are gonna go? Or do they generally only snap during tensioning?

So here's the scoop on this unit from the seller. (I have not yet been in to see it.) It's a solid state stereo EMT 140. Came from Jamie Foulds' Soundpark in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Before that it was at CBC Montreal.

The plate, damper and springs are in good shape. The pickups work.

The driver does not work. The amp probably also needs to be replaced. The motor for remote control does not work (it can still be adjusted manually).

I've made an offer conditional on seeing the unit, and he's accepted. Fingers crossed!

So assuming the above are the only issues:

- Does anyone sell spare clips? Maybe one of the new plate reverbs being produced today? (Pluto, Plattenhall, others?) Or do they all use sturdier supports?

- Where does one order a driver? Are they standard, off-the-shelf speaker drivers of some sort? Or obscure items available at only a few oddball places? Either way, who stocks them?

- Advice on the amp? I've read that basically "any old amp will do", but I have no idea about wattage, impedance load, etc. Are the EMT original amps still really expensive?

- Advice on the motor? I've never taken a car or lawnmower apart. Maybe I should replace it entirely, or call in a tech? Or should I get my fingers greasy and learn a little about how motors work?

Thanks again for all the advice & support Slutz,

Johann
Old 13th May 2013
  #11
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RoundBadge's Avatar
I hope your not overpaying.
That units needs work $$
Old 13th May 2013
  #12
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jtienhaara's Avatar
 

I hope so too! heh

I was thinking $hundreds. Does it sound more to you like $thousands?
Old 13th May 2013
  #13
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RoundBadge's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
I hope so too! heh

I was thinking $hundreds. Does it sound more to you like $thousands?
I've seen used emt amps go for $600-$1000.00 (when one becomes available).
Also martinsound amps are a good replacement .
I have the martinsound.. Lower noise floor than the original.
I'll ask my tech about drivers when I see him.
Old 13th May 2013
  #14
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juneaudio's Avatar
Clips can be found from Brian at Sherpa Studios. I can't even remember how I found out about him but I found him via Facebook and got clips for my plate that worked great.
Old 13th May 2013
  #15
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
Love you Slutz!

Greg are there any "early warning" signs that the clips are gonna go? Or do they generally only snap during tensioning?

So here's the scoop on this unit from the seller. (I have not yet been in to see it.) It's a solid state stereo EMT 140. Came from Jamie Foulds' Soundpark in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Before that it was at CBC Montreal.

The plate, damper and springs are in good shape. The pickups work.

The driver does not work. The amp probably also needs to be replaced. The motor for remote control does not work (it can still be adjusted manually).

I've made an offer conditional on seeing the unit, and he's accepted. Fingers crossed!

So assuming the above are the only issues:

- Does anyone sell spare clips? Maybe one of the new plate reverbs being produced today? (Pluto, Plattenhall, others?) Or do they all use sturdier supports?

- Where does one order a driver? Are they standard, off-the-shelf speaker drivers of some sort? Or obscure items available at only a few oddball places? Either way, who stocks them?

- Advice on the amp? I've read that basically "any old amp will do", but I have no idea about wattage, impedance load, etc. Are the EMT original amps still really expensive?

- Advice on the motor? I've never taken a car or lawnmower apart. Maybe I should replace it entirely, or call in a tech? Or should I get my fingers greasy and learn a little about how motors work?

Thanks again for all the advice & support Slutz,

Johann

You can see the clip adjust to tensioning as you tighten. But the snap point is always just a little earlier then you expect....

I'd go with Martinsound electronics. We had 4 from the Todd AO scoring stage, sold 2, all with Martinsound. Very good stuff. The noise floor can be incredibly low if you remote the transformer (which we did).

The motors can probably be rebuilt. Good luck. Martinsound made them, also, with handy push buttons on them to do adjustments without the remote.

I've called everyone looking for clips. Including Brian at Sherpa, who doesn't return calls (I'll try his FB). NOBODY stocks clips. Including Vintage King, Martinsound. If anyone finds them, please PM me or post. I need a bunch.

I wouldn't pay more than a few hundred bucks, or less, for a plate that needs so much work. It's going to be a project!

Greg

.
Old 13th May 2013
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
Or do they generally only snap during tensioning?
Johann
They almost always snap during tensioning. The trick is not to over-tighten, but listen to the plate and the springs themselves while tapping them with your 10mm wrench.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
The driver does not work.

The amp probably also needs to be replaced.
The driver coil could be open/burned out, but that is unlikely. If it is, a competent coil winder could repair. More probably, it is the driver amplifier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
- Where does one order a driver? Are they standard, off-the-shelf speaker drivers of some sort?
Take a look at the attached photo, the magnet comes off,, the coil is attached to the plate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtienhaara View Post
- Advice on the amp? I've read that basically "any old amp will do", but I have no idea about wattage, impedance load, etc. Are the EMT original amps still really expensive?
Any decent power amplifier will do. There does seem to be some "magic" in the EMT class A driver amp, however. I've powered 140's with Mac 75's but it wasn't better.

As far as the lovers of the martin so called upgrade, if you like the sound of cheap 38 cent ic chips, good for you.
Not many folks complained about the "noise" of well maintained tube 140's back in 50's and 50's.
Attached Thumbnails
How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-351.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-coil.jpg  
Old 14th May 2013
  #17
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cathode View Post
As far as the lovers of the martin so called upgrade, if you like the sound of cheap 38 cent ic chips, good for you.
Not many folks complained about the "noise" of well maintained tube 140's back in 50's and 50's.
Why would they complain? They were bathing in noisy, distorting, wonderful gear. I'm being sincere; I love it.

However, these days it's 130v DPA mics through Millennias straight to PT. Noise is a big deal to some people, for better or for worse. It's ridiculous, but we can't have the kind of noise we did back "in the day" at some commercial studios. And those Marteks are incredibly quiet and still allow the awesome sound of the real plate to be enjoyed by a new generation of engineers.
Old 14th May 2013
  #18
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jtienhaara's Avatar
 

Awesome, informative posts, thanks folks!

So if the deal were to go ahead -- then if I were to start by using a cheap amp I have (solid state mono 200 watt into 8 ohm, no idea what the frequency response chart looks like but it's a Traynor P.A. amp from the 70s or 80s, so probably not flat) -- would that do the trick initially? Until I can track down an original EMT amp, or decide I want the Martinsound amp?

And if that amp would do the job, what kind of level should I set the volume to?!?

Or, from another angle: If I blast the hell out of the plate, what will happen? Will it be obvious? Or do I risk doing any damage to the driver or springs/clips or etc?

Does the frequency response of the amp heavily affect the "tone" of the plate?

I have a million more questions but must sleep... Thanks so much for all the great info!

Johann
Old 16th May 2013
  #19
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I threaten to use a cheap P.A. amplifier in the High End forum, and nobody tries to stop me? What has happened to GearSlutz?!?

I went to see the EMT 140 today, and although I want to sleep on it, I think Roundbadge and Greg were right. It seems to me right now like this is a steel plate in a box with expensive springs/clips, and not much else.

The EMT 140 is housed in someone else's studio at the moment, so a viewing requires scheduling 3 people. I didn't bring a wrench set with me, nor did the seller, so I was not able to look inside.

The exterior front looks fine to my untrained eyes:





But what's this -- the wheel to tune manually is missing



And the motor is borken, and now I learn there is no remote... Hmmm...

It turns out that the driver is, indeed, busted, because the seller broke the coils as he was pulling off the magnet (a common mistake, from what I've seen online). The amp worked before the driver was broken, so it should still work fine today. But since I don't have any easy way of confirming that, I can't count on it.

The seller is a nice guy, but the devil in this case is turning out to be in the details...

The other worrying thing is that the seller said the damper was falling apart, so he glued it back together. He seems to think the damper is now in great shape, so maybe I've misunderstood what he meant by "falling apart" and "glued back together". But I can't help wondering if it needs replacing too.

The seller sent me photos from the last time the sides were off, but they're blurry cell phone photos, so they certainly don't convey any useful information to me. But maybe Slutz will get a better sense of the state of the internals than me?









I contacted Martinsound today, and Doug Osborne got right back to me. Unfortunately Martinsound has no EMT 140 parts left except for the drivers, which are $299.

Does anyone else sell replacement motors and remotes for EMT 140s, or is it down to the used/scrap market these days?

Is there any way to replace the missing manual tuning wheel? Or was it a custom made part?

Doesn't look good right now, but I'm going to sleep on it. Opinions and advice are very welcome!!!

Thanks Slutz,

Johann
Attached Thumbnails
How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-emt_140_front_top.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-emt_140_front_bottom.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-emt_140_no_wheel.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-img_0016.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-img_0019.jpg  

How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-img_0020.jpg   How to evaluate an EMT 140 plate reverb?-img_0022.jpg  
Old 16th May 2013
  #20
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Greg Curtis's Avatar
 

You could fab a damper controller with some parts from Home Depot or McMaster car, I'm sure.

.
Old 16th May 2013
  #21
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RoundBadge's Avatar
looks like it could be a real project.
hope you have a worthy tech.
proceed at your own risk.
Old 16th May 2013
  #22
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analogtodd's Avatar
 

Anything is possible.
It doesn't look too bad. It has the remote motor, its cool, but not really needed.
If the driver is broken and you know its going to be $300 for a new one (plus a few hours of tech time) it better be priced accordingly.

The pickups and the power amp are no big deals either... Yank the amp out and take to any decent tech if its not working.

Its a worthwhile project, but again, depends on money and how much effort you want to put into it.
Old 16th May 2013
  #23
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I'm sure I could get it functioning again, but my biggest concern is that it won't be very usable. No manual tuning wheel, no remote... And neither part is replaceable.

How would I set the reverb time? I've got enough half-working gear that I'm not about to invest in a plate reverb that requires me to stick my finger down a hole every time I want to tweak it.

And since I would never be able to sell on an EMT 140 that's stripped to the bone -- which this specimen is, IMHO -- it would be basically investing in a difficult-to-use tool with no hope of ever recouping even a fraction of the investment.

I kind of think the seller should part out what's left (clips especially).

Or am I just in a cranky mood today and I should actually give this a chance???
Old 16th May 2013
  #24
I don't think I would buy that plate. Unless you really wanted to Frankenplate the thing and make it a timely project and had a master tech available to get it going. Could end up being a lot of money with Tech time. Could end up being a very cool project. Just depends what your looking for here.

Regarding the power amp for the driver, you do not need a very high wattage power amp for this. 200 watts will smoke the driver quick, I am sure. You need a very simple and cheap 10-15 watt amp. Of course you can always build something custom yourself. You could make the plate passive, [don't use any of its existing audio electronics] just attach good Pickups and Transformers, and use any old mic preamp for your return.

To answer your above question about Pluto Plate...Ed makes everything for the Pluto custom himself and does not sell any parts separately.
Old 17th May 2013
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Might want to wait till you finish that Peavy AMR before undertaking a project this big...
Old 17th May 2013
  #26
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Sounds like this is being overthought. There would be no reason to part that thing out.
The tuning wheel is hardly a showstopper, all you need to do is extend the bar out of the wood case.
I'd say MOST EMT's don't have the remote anyway, so again, hardly a showstopper.

It looks to be a complete EMT, the plate looks clean, so why not just pick it up cheap and use it?
Old 17th May 2013
  #27
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Telefunk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by analogtodd View Post
Sounds like this is being overthought. There would be no reason to part that thing out.
The tuning wheel is hardly a showstopper, all you need to do is extend the bar out of the wood case.
I'd say MOST EMT's don't have the remote anyway, so again, hardly a showstopper.

It looks to be a complete EMT, the plate looks clean, so why not just pick it up cheap and use it?
Indeed. And the amp section is very easy to fix if there's some problems. Only real issue is the missing driver which can be bought.
Old 22nd May 2013
  #28
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jtienhaara's Avatar
 

Thinking cap off. Slutty toque on in its place.

Jules you do stock GearSlut toques, right??? With "less thinking more gear" printed on the back?

Thanks for all the advice Slutz! Everyone has been extremely helpful.

At this point I think this thread will probably turn into me asking questions about finding parts for, repairing and using the 140. Hopefully at least a few of y'all will stick around and offer tips & experience.

I'll post my findings as I load this sucker into my basement and source parts from around the world. Meanwhile if anyone knows of any stockpiles of EMT 140 bits, please do post here or PM me.

One thing I should have asked before I agreed to buy this unit: what should I say to my poor wife when she sees a 4'x8' 350 lb box coming through the front door.

Johann
Old 23rd May 2013
  #29
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analogtodd's Avatar
 

Take the sides off (10mm bolts)
Makes it MUCH MUCH lighter... I can move one by myself with the sides off easily.

Get a bar to slide in the lifting mounts (cut down micstand)
Old 23rd May 2013
  #30
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You'll need a delay or tape machine for some pre-delay to really bring an EMT to life.
Also, some pre-EQ helps too, (cut the low and high)
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