LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates Surround by Sound-Guy
Lustrous Plates Surround by LiquidSonics
I’ve used LiquidSonics reverbs for years, and recently reviewed several of their excellent plug-ins for Gearspace. Just this week a reverb I had recently tried in a stereo version, but not had time to review, was upgraded. Lustrous Plates Surround is modern plate reverb with ten distinctive plate models for use in stereo, surround and Atmos mixes up to 7.1.6. The original stereo version is still available, but I think you will prefer the new one.
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. . . . . . . Lustrous Plates Surround with multiple inputs and outputs.
Plate reverbs first hit the scene in 1957 with German company EMT introducing the EMT 140, a rather large (8 ft by 4 ft by 1.3 ft or 2.4 by 1.2 by 0.4 metres) and heavy unit weighing about 600 pounds (270 kg). How did it work? The plate reverb has a thin piece of sheet metal (the EMT 140 was only half a millimetre thick) suspended from a steel frame by springs at each corner and along the edges. There is an electromagnet transducer mounted on the frame at the centre of the plate, and a coil mounted on the plate itself, aligned with the electromagnet transducer so that current applied to the transducer (the sound input) produces a corresponding vibration in the coil. Yup, just like a moving coil speaker. There are one, two or four small microphones that are screwed onto the plate towards the corners which pick up the complex vibrations of the plate. This produces the classic plate reverb sound. There is also a “damping plate” parallel to the reverb plate that can be moved closer or farther from the plate to change the reverb time – this plate is a porous material that simply absorbs sound (it doesn’t touch the main plate) and changes not only the decay time, but also subtly affects tone.
The original EMT 140 was a mono reverb, but the company released a stereo model in 1961, and later a quadraphonic model (with four mics). Plate reverbs have a unique sound, very dense with heavy diffusion. They are warm, open, and natural, but not exactly like a real space. Unlike a real room or most reverb units, there are no early reflections. It’s all smooth reverberation.
What would have happened if 7.1.6 surround sound been around in those days and EMT had managed to find space to attach 14 pick-ups? We’ll never know for sure, but digital recreations can be extended in ways that the original plates probably could not.
Lustrous Plates Surround (LPS) uses Fusion-IR | Synthesis power to emulate not only one plate material like the original steel plate, but ten different plate types including chrome, rhodium, platinum, and gold. Yes, there was an EMT 240 Gold Foil Plate Reverb introduced in the ‘70s as a compact plate reverb – and many of these are still in use today (and sell for upwards of US$4,000 when available). Each plate type has its own reverberant tone and, like the real hardware, there is a damping control (Reverb Time Damper) to adjust the reverb time from about 1 to 5 seconds. There is also a variable Frequency Dispersion control which provides the kind of tonal variation that moving the microphone position in a real hardware unit could produce (which was very difficult to do with the hardware!). LiquidSonics have an excellent technical description of dispersion referenced at the end of this review.
There are thirty other adjustable parameters including 18 controls specifically for surround sound. These extended parameters are available in five panels in the lower right of the GUI, two for general adjustments (Reverberation and Equalisation), and three for surround effects (Level, Delay and Crossfeed). These are shown below in an “exploded” view and mostly need no explanation. However, I’ll clarify a few.
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Is It Real or is It Lustrous?
Of course LPS is far beyond a real plate reverb with its surround capability which supports a number of configurations: Mono, Stereo, LCR, 4.0 and 4.1, 5.0 and 5.1, 7.0 and 7.1, 7.0.2 and 7.1.2, 7.1.4, and 7.1.6 (DAW permitting). My studio system is Quad plus a sub (4.1), but I rarely turn on the rear speakers, so LPS provides far more than I need, but your needs may vary! Even in my studio I can expand a stereo source to surround reverberation in any of the above formats, even if I can’t listen to it with more than my five speakers.
Note that the multichannel capability depends on your DAW. LPS can use a mono or stereo input and still provide stereo, quad, or more reverb output channels if the host DAW can handle multiple audio channels on a track (great for reverb up-mix duties). If your DAW does not support multiple audio channels on a track, you still can use LPS, but will have only stereo outputs. LPS will still provide you with more capability than the stereo version of Lustrous Plates, so you shouldn’t overlook the new surround version even if you work only in stereo. There is more information on the benefits of LPS use in a stereo environment at the end of this review. And if you now work with surround sound, or plan to do so, LPS is the way to go.
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. . . . . . . LPS on a multichannel track with only a stereo input (Front) and five surround outputs.
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. . . . . . . LPS runs in stereo only mode if placed on a stereo track – if your DAW only supports stereo, you can use LPS in stereo
. . . . . . . mode and take advantage of its added reverberation processing, but will miss the multiple outputs.
Presets and Settings
There is of course a Preset window (76 factory presets and as many of your own as you wish to add), an A/B feature allowing to quickly switch between two presets, and an Interactive Assistance available using (?) Icon. The Settings menu (gear icon) enables control locking, adjusting latency (from zero to 8,192 samples), adjusting GUI size from about 300x600 to 775x1600 pixels, and selecting some advanced settings such as stereo processing mode and surround processing topology mode, among others.
Lustrous Plates Surround is available in 64 bit VST2, VST3, AU and AAX formats for Windows (Windows 7 or above) and Mac OS X 10.9 or above. Lustrous Plates Surround uses the iLok/Pace activation system and operates with iLok 2 or 3 USB dongles, iLok Machine activation or iLok Cloud. Since the iLok system is often updated, be sure to check iLok.com and download the newest version (iLok License Manager v5.4 and up) before trying to use Lustrous Plates Surround. And be sure to be online when you first open it in a DAW because you will get an activation screen that needs to connect to iLok. Enter your activation code and then go to your iLok account to select the activation mode you want. Both Cloud and Machine activation are free, but Cloud requires being actively online whenever you first start using an instance of Lustrous Plates Surround in a project.
In my test system (PC Audio Labs Rok Box PC with Windows 7, 64 Bit, 4-Core Intel i7-4770K, 3.5 GHz, and 16 GB RAM) Lustrous Plates Surround used from 1.2% to about 2% CPU resources depending on the latency setting: zero latency produces the highest CPU load as expected, and 8,192 samples the lowest. The program when installed and running uses only about 160 MB of RAM and there are no associated large folders of impulse response functions needed.
A very powerful, beautiful sounding, and extremely flexible plate reverb emulation that enables far more variation than any real plate reverb (and it is a lot smaller!). From my testing and experience with a number of plate reverb emulations (no, I don’t have a real EMT 140 in the basement!) I’d say LPS is the new gold standard for plate reverbs. It sounds amazing, even listening only in quad 4.1, and its flexibility should cover almost everyone’s needs.
Excellent “3D” sound quality as expected from LiquidSonics, providing sonically believable environments from stereo to full 7.1.6 surround.
Very fine emulations of plate reverbs with variations and control beyond any hardware unit and beyond any software emulation I’ve ever heard.
Very clean GUI with everything you need on the main control panel, but with added advanced functions easily accessed.
A good selection of factory presets (76 of them, 48 stereo and 28 surround configurations), and of course the ability to create and save your own.
Extensive real-time control of all (over 55 parameters) available using MIDI automation.
Intro price is less than the Lustrous Plates stereo version until December 5, 2021– and you can check it out for 14 days free.
Not really a con, but if you’re looking for more types of reverbs than plates, Lustrous Plates Surround is not the one to deliver – in that case check out the other LiquidSonics offerings on their website.
See Lustrous Plates Surround info at
Technical info on dispersion
Benefits of using Lustrous Plates Surround in stereo