When it comes to music recording then putting the words 'Abbey Road' in front of anything should be a licence to print money. However the cynic could think that using a prestigious brand could be nothing more than a marketing shortcut to selling an otherwise average product.
With the release of the latest Abbey Road plugin to come from Waves, the Abbey Road Reverb Plates, it is worth asking if this plugin is worthy of the Abbey Road 'halo' or simply nothing more than marketing hype, we decide to find out in this review of Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates Plugin.
A couple of things to add before the review; firstly the team at Abbey Road are red hot when it comes to the use of the Abbey Road name, not anyone can make a product and get it endorsed, so there's a lot of collaboration taking place with Abbey Road as products are developed. This should give any potential purchaser some peace of mind when buying something with the Abbey Road name on it, especially an emulation. Which leads me to my second point, I'm one of the lucky people to have worked at Abbey Road on a project, but many of those listening to this plugin or buying it will never get the chance to compare it with the real thing - so there's a certain amount of faith that has to take place for any potential purchaser. That said, if it sounds great then in my opinion it could be the Joe's Studio, Grimsby plates reverb and still be worth using.
The Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates Plugin
Abbey Road original reverb plates are four EMT 140 units installed in 1957 to complement the fixed reverberation times of the studios’ echo chambers. The plates have a variable reverb time of up to six seconds. Waves say; "To keep noise to a minimum, EMI’s Central Research Laboratories designed unique hybrid solid-state drive amps for Plates A, B and C. Plate D was fully valve-powered on both drive and output stages, allowing a versatile array of sonic characteristics, from warm and dark to lush and smooth."
The Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates plugin models plates A, B, C and D. A plate selector control allows you to switch between the four modeled plates, letting you find the exactly reverb ambience that you need. You can also choose from 11 different damper positions, giving you different reverb decay times – anywhere from 1 to 5.4 seconds, depending on the selected plate. The bass cut circuit at the start of the driver amplifier chain has also been modeled, so you can decrease the overall low-frequency area to avoid rumbles.
The Treble control is a high-shelf filter that adds brightness and air to the overall reverb sound. It can also decrease the top of the high-frequency range, resulting in a darker sound. The Drive and Analog controls model the original amplifiers’ THD behavior and the plates’ hum and noise: switch them on or off, and select the exact amount added. The Pre-Delay control sets the amount of delay between the direct dry signal and the processed wet sound, while the Wet/Dry control sets the balance between the two.
The Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates Plugin - In Use
Using the Abbey Road Reverb Plates Plugin is pretty straightforward, just strap it across an AUX send, push up the returns and away you go. As the plugin has both an input and output control I plumped to set both sends and returns at 0db and then fly the whole thing from the plug-in. One nice thing is that the plugin collapses down to just the controls, which to my mind is a smart move, apart from the metering there's little need to see animated graphics on the GUI telling me in visual representation that sound is running over the plate. For those needing more screen real estate that's a great move. Using the plugin is simple, you'll rarely need to look at the manual part perhaps to understand the different ways signals can pass through the plugin depending on how you set up your sends and returns and also to understand how crosstalk works, your ears should tell you the rest.
The Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates Plugin - Conclusion
The real question is how does it sound? Simply put it's gorgeous and also incredibly versatile, plates are sometimes regarded as suitable for certain things, but the choice of 4 plates and the controls on offer mean that although the sounds are not infinite, there's certainly a lot of flexibility from this plugin. Check out the video below which is a vocal part being sung and then the controls being adjusted - you'll hear the variety.
I was actually taken quite aback by this plugin, I expected it to be good, but bearing in mind the expectation levels set to stun by the use of the Abbey Road name on it, I did not expect to love it... I do.
There's a lot of good reverb plugins on the market, and some very good plate emulations from the likes of UAD, but despite me having my favourites I'm smitten by the Waves Abbey Road Reverb Plates. This won't replace my other go-to reverbs, but it does offer me something I don't think I've heard before. One small point is to check the CPU hit on this plugin, as some are reporting it to be on the high side, which to be fair is to be expected with any high quality emulation.
Perhaps the spin got me? I don't think so, if you think it has then I recommend that you download the demo and make your own mind up about this plugin, in reality that's the only opinion that matters for you. As to the review this gets an Editors Choice Award and will find its place in my favourites list.