PSP AUDIOWARE 2445 EMT REVERB – CRYSTAL CLEAR
Hi and welcome to Studiowise. This time we’re looking at an interesting emulation of the mythical EMT 244 and 245 plate reverb modelled by PSP Audioware – the aptly named 2445 EMT. The original hardware is extremely rare but treasured by the studios that possess them, but now you can have a taste of the original in VST form.
I’ll admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of the EMT reverb sound, having owned the UAD 240 variant some years back that literally sat there gathering dust as I found it too 80s for my taste. Having said that, it is one of the classic devices you probably should have in your collection just to cover all bases – even cheesy 80’s pop synth tracks. Since PCs are incredibly powerful these days, no longer are hardware accelerators like UAD required to run these high-end effects, you can afford to own some of the more esoteric devices without mortgaging your house to do so.
As always with PSP Audioware products, I’m expecting high quality and attention to detail. Leaving any preconceived notions on the device behind I’m keen to give this one a good look over, so let’s get this installed and cranked up.
PSP 2445 EMT combines the modelling of both the original 244 and 245 hardware rack units. You can easily switch between each, or choose a combination mix of both. The original units were designed for mono-to-stereo conversion, whereas the plugins have no such limitations.
The cool skeuomorphic UI which PSP Audioware always design perfectly is very well laid out and easy to navigate. Controls are fairly straightforward, an input level with corresponding output gain and mix knobs. Delay controls the offset of the reverb wet signal to the dry source. Reflections are the density or diffusion level. The ‘T’ knob is for time, or the reflection’s tail length. A simplistic graph allows you to swap between normal and extended reverb times for high or lower frequency ranges.
A hidden flap opens to reveal controls for routing. You can select the input mode, either 244 or 245 reverb modes and then how the effect is routed to the output channel. A modulation control smooths out the reverb tail at the expense of slight chorusing at extreme settings, though in testing I didn’t find this control overly effective. A simple 2-band EQ with a high pass, stereo width and output balance controls.
So for what looks on the outside to be a simple device, certainly a lot of control has been included for increased flexibility. Great stuff.
As with any reverb effect, it’s best used as a light wash of ambience. 2445 has an expensive sound and is quite clear in the mid-high and top frequencies, it’s certainly one of the best reverbs out of the box for widening and spreading the perceived soundstage without being overly noticeable as a reverb effect.
I have read the original EMT250s were quite a dark sounding, and since the 244 and 245 were basically the same core design, much of that lo-fi 18kHz sampled sound carries through into this plugin. Generally, I’m not a fan of the low-end mud you can easily build up unless you roll off the low-sub bottom as much as possible, but the mid-high and top-end sizzle is very nice. Unlike a spring reverb which can place a mix in an environment, this for me is better at adding a subtle shimmer to BUS tracks. It works well as a subtle hi-frequency booster if a short tail is used with the low end dialled out, and gives dimension and width. The airy, crystal-clear high end is impressive and somewhat enticing to push too hard and over-mix it. I had to check myself a few times and pull back – it’s the old adage I was taught when I first worked in a studio: Bring the vocal up until they sound right, then turn them up one notch – add reverb until you can only just hear it, then pull it back one notch.
You need to be very careful with the balance, else everything just sounds like a bad New Wave remix from the 80s. But if you’re gentle a very nice ethereal ambience can be added, which is particularly nice on minimalistic tracks with just voice and piano or guitar. There’s nothing like a plate reverb on vocals, and if you dial the setting in well, it’s creamy and silky smooth. For general reverb, 2445 EMT works well on pretty much everything, it’s just out of the box it generally sounds too much, too characterful. This is not an effect you can merrily throw on all your tracks and life is good. Some degree of tweaking and (mostly) pulling back the mix will be required.
With that being said, if you’re looking for something really different, pushing the 2445 EMT hard will produce plenty of character. Engaging the Delay more adds a serious amount of echo, producing quite distinct results. This reverb is naturally very wide sounding, so more intense processing gives your track a bigger, ethereal quality. From a sound design standpoint, this could be the exact sound you’re looking for, it’s retro but not vintage.
An interesting side effect is the built-in delay control, I found this very interesting to play with, especially for wild slap-back echos. On drums, it’s an absolute blast, and I managed to come up with some really cool polyrhythmic delay grooves by dialling back the reflections all the way and maxing the delay time and input gain. When used on a performance instrument such as a piano, 2445 EMT has a distinctive sound, especially on staccato notes and very high-range keys. Lower-range notes tend to swallow up the reverb effect, so it’s much more noticeable when playing higher on the instrument’s range. On most presets there is an odd chorusing reflection tail that is a little strange on short notes and chords, but when played heavily and with sustained notes the reverb has a very nice smoothing and widening effect. I find it a little too weird for my taste as a general piano reverb, but the rich chorusing effect is wonderful on ballad-style piano lines that need a little thickening, widening and lushness added.
Performance-wise, 2445 is amazing – hardly moving our DPS meter beyond a few per cent for each instance. Pushing the tails out to 5 seconds, of course, adds some processing demands, but for most generic applications you won’t even notice the CPU hit.
2445 is a great-sounding and well-designed plate reverb. The controls are as you should expect, and though there is plenty of room for customising the device there’s nothing too complicated about the workflow. Somewhat surprisingly, the CPU requirements are incredibly low, even running multiple instances this draws similar DPS as an EQ or compressor, providing much more confidence to extend the use beyond a BUS insert.
At $149 USD, the price feels a little high for me, however, it does have a very unique sound that you won’t find anywhere else – short of investing in the hardware UAD units or maybe finding an original unit somewhere for sale. PSP Audioware has released a number of very characterful reverb units now, each with a very specific sound and use in mind, 2445 nicely fills the role of digital plate reverb. I have been converted, in that this is not my new ‘go-to’ reverb effect, but it certainly is my new ‘let’s try something unusual’ reverb. I most love how 2445 EMT widens and subtly enhances the top end while remaining almost undetectable as a reverb if you’re gentle.
Every producer needs a good range of quality and characterful effect processors in their collection, particularly with reverbs. It’s one of the most important effects for providing spacial depth and ambience to a mix. There are plenty of great digital reverbs out there covering a wide spectrum of uses, but it’s harder to find quality, more specific and focused devices like 2445 EMT. This is a neat unit with some tricks and one of the smoothest plate verbs I’ve heard, I highly recommend you try the demo, it will certainly grab your attention.
For further information and pricing, check the main website here www.pspaudioware.com
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