Review: LiquidSonics Lustrous Plates
Fast becoming a name of much repute in the world of reverb, LiquidSonics here fuses old and new with a modern approach to the classic plate sound.
Having looked at LiquidSonics’ Cinematic Rooms plug-in last month, we’re returning to the same developer’s rich stable expecting something equally impressive. Lustrous Plates is the UK company’s take on a classic hardware reverb type that remains a favourite among mix engineers and across musical genres the world over. The plug-in features seven classic plate reverb types and owes its sound to a blend of impulse-response technology
and synthesis, achieved using LiquidSonics’ proprietary Temporal Acoustic Spectral Mapping (TASM) technology.
It uses a multiband capture-and-analysis stage to provide an impulse response of the hardware being modelled, before mapping the results into a synthesis algorithm, whose controls make it feel like an artificial reverb plug-in. Impressive stuff, in theory anyway.
Lustrous Plates has a dark red-on-black GUI, though there’s a Light Mode available via the settings. Between the input and output-level VU meters, you can select your preferred plate type: Chrome, Silver, Steel, Rhodium, Beryllium, Corbomite and Iridium models are all on offer, and each has its own distinct sonic character.
On the left side, you’ll find two parameters that enhance the plates’ differences: Reverb Time Damper and Frequency Dispersion. The main differences between hardware plate reverbs is the way they reflect, absorb and disperse frequency groups. Some let frequencies pass through the plate more or less at the same time, others more substantially delay harmonic content across the frequency range.
These options, alongside the plate type, control and model the plates’ behaviour, and let you set the overall reverb time. To the right, you’ll find synthesised parameters that allow you to further tailor the sound of your chosen reverb type, including its length and frequency dispersion.
The character parameters offer pre-delay (in milliseconds or clocked to your project tempo), with a width dial offering everything from mono to wide stereo treatments. Internal modulation is provided too, with depth and rate dials to further enrich the sound.
At the bottom right, you’ll find wet/dry mix and overall output level controls. Internal equalisation comes via its own tab, with high-cut and low-cut options at either end of the frequency spectrum, alongside switchable shelf or bell curves for low and high bands.
Put the word “lustrous” in your product name and you’d better ensure its sound doesn’t disappoint. Thankfully, Lustrous Plates delivers. It’s more expensive than some of its rivals but the technology at the heart of this plug-in allows you to tailor your requirements perfectly to one of the impulse-response algorithms (let your ears audition before choosing) before the synthesised-style controls further bend that choice to the demands of your mix.
This isn’t a comprehensive plug-in that tries to be all reverbs to all producers. Instead, it looks to provide smart options around one of the most popular and enduring approaches to spatial treatment in recording history. And it does that with ease, effortlessness and, yes, lustre.
- Temporal Acoustic Spectral Mapping
- Seven modelled reverb plates
- Precision control
- Windows 7 and above
- macOS 10.9 and above
- VST 2.4, VST3, Audio Unit and AAX Native plug-in formats
This plug-in’s structure will be familiar to fans of Valhalla: a sensational sound beneath a simple design. There are 12 plate modes, plus further parameters. No sampling here. Algorithmic generation only.
Honourable mentions to Waves’ AbbeyRoad Plates and SoundToys’ Little Plate aside, It’s EMT140 that’s the enduring classic of plate reverbs. If you own an Apollo interface, do yourself a solid: get this.