UAD EMT 140 vs Waves Abbey Road Plates

In this review showcase we will be checking out the UAD EMT 140 (based on the EMT 140 plate reverb from 1957) and the Waves Abbey Road Plates - seven different plates in all.   Both of these are recreations of faithful old-school Plate Units that became a fundamental sound on so many classic records. Since very very few of us will have access to a EMT 140 and/or the plates at Abbey Road (Lucky you if you do) chances are you will be stuck with a plugin version of them.   UAD have been kind enough to provide three different options for the plate of their EMT 140 emulation.   Plates A and B are how you would hear many of the original units these days, with the original EMT electronics and the plates un-tuned.   Plate C is an example with the more modern Martech electronics, and fully serviced to provide a greater frequency range than Plates A and B.

The Abbey Road Plates are emulations of the famous four EMT 140 plates at Abbey Rd, which were modded to fit the Abbey Road Standards, creating their individual characteristics.   And they all do sound quite unique.   So here is a comparison shootout showing these differences, and our thoughts on The UAD EMT 140 and the Waves Abbey Road Plates.

Here’s what they look like -  If you want to go direct to the SHOOTOUTS CLICK HERE


Waves Abbey Road Plates


SHOOTOUT 1 - Snare 1000ms 

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Starting with the UAD EMT 140 Plate A.   The UAD Plate A is a nice sounding plate reverb - this reverb mostly has early energy that dissipates very quickly.   Quite natural sounding, it does sound a bit scooped compared to some of the other reverbs when you compare, and with a bit less low end - which gives it a clearer sound which is useful in general, but particularly in denser mixes with lots going on in the lows and low mids .   It has a nice little bit of top high mid shimmer to it, and has some good width too it. Plate B is very similar in energy and decay to the UAD Plate A but is a lot darker sounding.   The UAD Plate B does not have as much late energy and has a less complex more slapback reverb sound to our ears (bear in mind that this is not pre delay as these were all set to 0), the slight ‘pitch increase effect’ (from the differential decay across the frequencies) on the decay is most noticeable on this plate, maybe because it doesn’t have the other frequencies masking it as much.   It also, we think, sounds the most metallic or ringing.   When comparing the previous plates (A and B) to UAD Plate C (which is the fully serviced and tuned plate with the Martech electronics) Plate C is the most different of the three in the EMT plugin, as a starter you probably notice that what is the one second setting for Plate C is longer than for Plate A and B.   It also has a lot more late energy than the other two, but aside from that there are many other far more important factors to consider.   UAD Plate C also has a lot more lows and low mids in the reverb and is richer sounding and most balance across the spectrum, although some post EQ might need to be done as well to keep the low end clear in the mix.   It captures the elements of Plate A and B, but just, makes them sound fancier.

The Waves Abbey Road Plates are based on four EMT 140 plates, also from 1957.   And as the UAD EMT 140 shows, there can be considerable difference between units, so it is definitely worth knowing the best one for the job.    The Waves Plate A sits somewhere between the UAD Plate C and Plate B in many ways, with one noticeable factor being that it has a more apparent metallic sound to it.  It has a resonant sounding early energy in the lower mids, especially in the 300 - 400Hz region which could be used to add some extra power to a snare, that decays quite fast and you are left with the more metallic sounding mid range ring (along with fast drop off of highs.
The Waves Plate B is one of the widest sounding plates in the group - With a bit of a scooped or clearer sound to it (especially compared to the Waves Plate A low mid push we just discussed) and not as much bottom end it is a bit more comparable to the UAD Plate A in some ways, (although more resonant).   The Waves Plate B sounds slightly wider with more top end and has a slightly longer nice even decay from early to late energy. The Waves Plate C is similar in body and frequency content to the UAD Plate A but it has quite a prominent high mid ringing that is very metallic sounding.   This ringing is more prominent and high pitched than in the Waves Plate A reverb.   Nothing a bit of surgical EQing couldn’t fix if you were worried about it.   This one has a nice ‘old’ feel to it, maybe think of it on a classic Reggae kit. The Waves Plate D ends up being a bit more similar to the Waves Plate B. Again this reverb has a very nice amount of width to it - all though it does not have as much top and as the Waves Plate B. The Waves Plate D also does not exhibit the same ringing characteristic that the Waves Plate A and C have.   It has a really interesting envelope on the decay of frequencies, with two prominent frequency areas hanging around a bit longer that could be used to really interesting effect.


SHOOTOUT 2  - Vocals 2000ms

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The UAD EMT Plate A is very pleasant sounding on the vocals - because of the fast decay and thinned out sound of the reverb it doesn't interfere much with the original signal that is passing through and gives the vocal some nice space without getting muddy. No nasty frequencies jump out, and it sounds quite complex for a plate reverb. Moving onto the UAD Plate B, this plate has a bit more warmth to it when on the vocals.   Listen to how it picks up and carries the lows/low mids more than the UAD Plate A.   The UAD Plate C has a nice width too it and with the more late energy and more linear decay it is very pleasant on vocals.   The difference of reverb decay time means that the audio sample in this case wont seamlessly line up all the time, but you can still pick up the tone and characteristics of each different plate.
When jumping from the UAD Reverbs to the Waves Plate A it sounds like you just jumped into the a steel swimming pool. This Reverb does not have the same warmth as the UAD plates and instead is a lot more mid range and pingy plate reverb, really useful for when you are needing something to add a different feel of space, and would be useful on synths and certain pop vocals.   The upper mids are really interesting and engaging and could be used to good effect in a mix (check out the okay., okay, okay, okay. part).   Because of this extra mid push this reverb sounds a lot more forward and present than the UAD Plates.   The Waves Plate B sits nicely in behind the vocals with its shorter decay feel. This reverb has a little bit of a flutter feel to it - it sounds like it has some slight resonances in the high frequencies (in the okay okay okay okay part).   The Waves Plate C sounds quite similar to the Waves Plate B however it does sound more scooped and with less low end content to it, and brings the elements of the resonant ringing that came through in the snare example.
The Waves Plate D sounds quite similar to the Waves Plate A but without a much top end and not that mid range push characteristic that the Waves Plate A is exhibiting, it’s nice.

What we think

Overall the UAD and the Waves plates are quite different sounding reverbs (hardly surprising once you read the manuals as to the units histories). We do really like both in their own way and having access to these as options really enhances the sonic palette you can work with in a mix.   It really shows just how much the same model of a piece of analog gear (in this case the EMT 140) can diverge over time, or be modded, and develop its own particular character.   So UAD and Waves should be applauded for recognising and providing that as an option for your mixes (and maybe they could do the same with some other pieces of classic gear like the 1176 and LA2A).   The UAD seems a bit more lush and balanced with their frequency content - they sit back really nicely and complement the signal that passes through them real nicely.   UAD do tend to go for ‘Golden Units’ to capture the ‘ideal essence’ of the particular unit.   The Waves Plates sound a bit more like a rustic and aged, or ‘authentic piece of old gear) - they not as ‘shiny’, and have more of a mid range push and quite noticeable character quirks - this feel is cool to hear on these reverbs since they were modelled specifically on the Abbey Road plate reverbs ‘as is, where is’.  The ringing that some of the Abbey Road Plates give would be a taste thing (and easy enough to remove if you don’t want it), and does lend an extra authenticity of the reality of old analog gear, and showcases what to expect with historically important gear such as that at Abbey Road, or any studio with a legendary collection of gear.

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Handy Links -

Check out the UAD EMT 140 on the Universal Audio site here

Check out the Abbey Road Plates on the Waves site here

Extra info for those interested in how we make our calls on what stuff sounds like -

Listening tests and assumptions are determined, double checked or signed off at Gearshoot HQ on ATC110ASL Pro monitors.   We reckon that they give us a pretty good chance at getting it pretty well in the ballpark of what it is going to sound like on most other people’s monitors.   We also headphone check on Extreme Isolation EX-29’s to hear what is going on in that spectrum and to hear what the world of headphones can show us.


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