Universal Audio Pure Plate Reverb Plug-in by Diogo C
Product: Pure Plate Reverb
Developer: Universal Audio
Formats: AAX, AU and VST for UAD2 systems on Mac (10.7+) and Windows (7+)
Demo: Fully functional for 14 days
Price: $149 (US Dollars, MSRP)
The scope: Universal Audio’s plug-ins have been on the forefront of hardware emulation, the current UAD2 roster is like a virtual hall of fame with excellent plug-in versions of some of the best pieces of gear ever made, but this time they’re taking a different approach. Enter Pure Plate Reverb, a plug-in that recreates the plate reverberation effect with all the characteristics of the mighty steel plates, dampers and transducers present on these coveted devices. The important aspect to notice here is that it’s not emulating any articular hardware unit but instead it takes on the effect itself, so it’s a new virtual plate reverb that’s inspired by vintage gear. Pure Plate Reverb is all about getting authentic sounds with minimum effort, it’s a plug-in that’s very easy to assimilate, with only a few but very meaningful parameters: there’s a decay time control from 0.5 to 5.5 seconds with 0.1s increments, pre-delay up 250ms, switchable input 12dB/octave HP filter (flat, 90 and 180 Hz), Bass/Treble shelving EQs, left/right balance and dry/wet mix. Wrapping it up there are switches for power (bypass) and to “solo” the effect (full wet), along with a great looking VU meter with very realistic ballistics and needle action - clicking on the VU also bypasses the plug-in. This meter is calibrated to 0VU = -12dBFS (sine wave @ 1kHz) and I recommend aiming near zero dB for maximum effect, or just slightly under it for a cleaner sound. Cranking up the EQs also leads to some highly expressive and dense reverb, and setting it to darker or brighter sounds is possible. Lastly, there’s some cool (albeit a bit gimmicky) animation of the plates on the right side of the interface when you set the decay time, and clicking-dragging the plates is also a way to adjust such parameter.
Pure Plate Reverb’s simplicity is one of its biggest strengths. It should take more than a few clicks to make it sound amazing.
Sound quality: This is arguably one of the best plate reverbs in the box right now, with a dense and rich sound that’s incredibly detailed and highly convincing. Pure Plate is not a clean and pristine effect by any means, it’s colorful, plenty with vibe and there’s a beautiful ring to it that I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. It’s a bit ironic is that Pure Plate is not emulating any particular piece of gear, but it definitely nails all the characteristics most commonly associated with these intimidating and iconic devices. When compared to the acclaimed EMT 140 plug-in it holds its own, and to be honest I’d give Pure Plate the upper hand because it’s so effective. For the lack of better terms, it has more “weight” and the sound character feels more authentic, not to mention the superior workflow it enables. The EMT 140 is more versatile since we get more options to choose from but for most cases Pure Plate will likely match it and in my humble opinion it will often surpass it.
Ease of use: Pure Plate Reverb is very intuitive to operate and it should take very little time to get acquainted with all the controls, so there should be no problems whatsoever on operation. The interface is absolutely clean, there are no hidden settings whatsoever and most people will be comfortable with it right from the start. Perhaps the only difficulty to be found here is the pre-delay, which has no option to sync to your DAW and has no value display, so besides the 50/250ms markers you’re pretty much in the dark with it. Needless to say that it's always best to “use yours ears” or tweak until it “sounds right”, but it’s a nagging issue and one that could easily be addressed with little visual impact to the plug-in. Other than that it’s a plug-in that is designed to be effortless to use and it greatly succeeds on delivering great sounds with minimum efforts. Should further clarification be required its entry on the UAD2 plug-ins manual is there to provide it through five well-written pages that covers all the parameters. It also comes with a decent number of presets, which can always be useful to demonstrate its possibilities, but frankly I don’t think most people will need them given how fast it is to dial a great sounding setting. Performance-wise Pure Plate Reverb is a lightweight when compared to some of the latest offerings in the platform, with a single DSP chip being able to handle five instances at a sample rate of 48kHz, which is a very reasonable and easily manageable footprint.
Features: This plug-in is all about effectiveness through simplicity, it doesn’t give the user a ton of parameters to play with but gives meaningful controls over the reverb sound that are more than adequate for the most occasions - I know there are geeks out there who would like to control every little possible variable, but these guys will find better luck with the (also impressive sounding) EMT 140 plug-in. Echoing what I’ve said above, the only feature that I miss would be a better handling for the pre-delay, including not only a way to accurately display its value but also to sync it to host tempo. As a Gearslut I wouldn’t mind more filter options, level trims and switchable input/output metering, but besides the pre-delay issue I’m totally fine with the feature set as it stands.
Bang for buck: Relatively affordable when compared to other UAD2 reverb plug-ins (it’s the most affordable UAD2 reverb along DreamVerb) and competitive against native offerings, Pure Plate Reverb delivers excellent bang for very reasonable bucks. It’s beautifully concise, sounds amazing and should definitely be in the conversation for the best plate reverb in plug-in form.
Recommended for: mixing engineers and producers who aren’t totally happy with their current batch of reverb plug-ins or to those who want to further their plate reverberation options.
Very fast to work with
Light on DSP
Pre-delay is a bit problematic to set
PS: I really liked the approach taken on Pure Plate and it will be simply awesome if UA decides to develop more plug-ins such as this one - the latest Moog Multimode Filter XL also comes to mind, as they’re both plug-ins which detaches themselves from the self-imposed boundaries of 1:1 emulations with lookalike interfaces to break new ground while still paying tribute to the classic effects.