Build a DIY Plate Reverb


[Telegraphy] needed a reverb for his recording studio. There are hundreds of computer-based and standalone digital reverb systems out there, but he decided to build his own plate reverb. Reverb is an effect used in many professional audio and music recordings. Reverb adds thousands of echos to an audio signal. These echos decrease in amplitude over time. When used correctly, the effect is generally very pleasing to the ear.

A plate reverb uses a plate of sheet metal to generate the reverb. An audio driver is placed in contact with the metal plate. Audio is fed into the driver, which vibrates the plate. The vibrations travel along the surface of the plate, bouncing off the edges and reflecting back. These reflections are captured by a pickup, which then converts them to a voltage signal. The final reverb effect is actually created in the sound engineer’s mixing board when the “dry” source signal is mixed with the signal returned by the plate.

[Telegraphy's] plate reverb was built almost entirely from found, Radio Shack, and hardware store parts. The plate and frame are from Lowes. The audio driver is a cut up speaker from an old car stereo. The pickup is a modified piezo transducer from Radio Shack. As [Telegraphy] states several times, there are a lot of differing opinions on exactly how and where to mount the various parts of the reverb. Any placement will generate some reverb. The question is where and how to mount things for the best effect. Much like beauty and the eye of the beholder, the answer to that question is in the ear of the listener.

Jump past the break for a tour of a slightly more involved plate reverb at Gallery Acoustics Studio.

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DIY spring and plate reverb

If you’re running your own recording studio, you’re going to need a lot of gear that seems excessively esoteric to the non-musically inclined. A rack full of synth gear looks just like any other cabinet of technology you would find in a server room. Electronic music is, for the most part, very utilitarian looking, but there are a few pieces that add a very nice aesthetic touch to any studio. [Peter] made two great looking pieces of hardware – both reverbs – that significantly add to the decor of his studio. As a bonus, they also sound really good.

[Peter]‘s spring reverb (Dutch, Google translate) works just the same as any other spring reverb; a speaker puts some music into a slightly stretched spring, and this sound is picked up by another transducer at the opposite end. For this build, [Peter] used a Slinky and a piece of PVC pipe left over from a bathroom remodel. Adding a few jacks, pots, and a preamp, [Peter] had a very nice and extremely large spring reverb.

The plate reverb (translation) is also a staple of pro recording studios around the globe. This reverb is somewhat similar to a spring reverb, except the spring is replaced with a tuned metal plate. [Peter] used a cymbal from a drum set for this piece of kit. Two speakers are attached to the back of the cymbal, one feeds a sound into the cymbal, the other speaker picks up those sounds and sends it to the mixing board.

There’s a lot of really cool musical DIY projects over on [Peter]‘s site, along with a few audio demos for each of his DIY projects. We’ve included his reverb demos after the break, feel free to give those a listen.

Thanks go to [geekabit] for sending this one in.

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