EMT 140 Stereo Plate Reverb Amplifier

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Donna, May 26, 2014.

  1. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    Hello. We purchased this EMT 140 Reverb Amplifier at an auction and purchased it "unseen" as it was wrapped and boxed and they would not allow anyone to take off the packing around the boxes to take a look at it. They auctioned it off as "large lot stereo equipment". When we finally found enough strong friends to help load/unload it we got it to the storage unit and saw what it was. Have NO idea if it works, but it appears extremely clean and well taken care of. No corrosion anywhere. It is 2 huge HEAVY wooden crate type boxes. We are in the Palestine, Texas area, about 45 miles south from Tyler, Texas. I have spoken with a friend who has a recording studio as well as a very kind gentleman on this site who suggested I post this in the classifieds. As I said, I have NO idea what kind of working condition this is in. I only know what I have observed and even to an untrained eye it appears very clean and in excellent condition. It is stored out of the elements in a storage area on our property. I will be happy to send pictures to anyone who might be interested in this. It says it is manufactured in W.- Germany. I'm not even going to ATTEMPT to spell the name of the company that makes it.

    Thanks and have a wonderful week!

  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Donna, is there a chance you can take a few pictures of this, with you standing beside it and post it here? The more the better.
    This would speed up the sale of this vintage gem and give people a sense, this is in fact the real deal and what shape its in ! :)
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    PS, ( thanks for the kind words btw)

    some info for you on this:
    Here is an inquiry of what looks to be posted 13 years ago. Both these guys are very reputable resources in this business,

    hope it helps :

    Does it look like the video below?

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Mye5v4ThQ

    here is another unit that sold last year:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3kfm08l2-E
  4. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    Yes, looks identical to this. There is another huge box that has the same size panel but it has white membrane (my words...not correct I'm sure) rather than the steel piece. I will try to post the pics I took today now.


    Attached Files:

  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Wow. What a find!

    Okay, let me see if I can possibly not mangle this.... EMT is a German company, abbreviated for "Elektromesstechnik" LOL. Say that one three times - or even once for that matter. ;)

    They are a company famous for turning out plate and foil reverbs. Your model, the 140, originated in the mid 1950's (I'm not saying the exact model you have, I'm saying the model was originally designed and released at that time, they made thousands of the same model over the years with very few changes). The first 2 Van Halen albums had the EMT 140 as the main reverb on vocals, drums and guitars. (EVH still complains that too much of it was used LOL)

    They seem to be all over the place price-wise; if you check eBay you can see current bids around $200, BUT those are just current bids. It's very likely that on the final day of the auction it could go through the roof.

    There are also a couple that have a "buy it now" price closer to 3 grand.

    No matter what you sell it for, you're gonna want to make sure that the buyer comes to pick it up, because freight costs on it - I'm guessing that it weighs around 300 lbs - would be prohibitive for either you or the buyer.

    Off the top of my head, pending condition and that it works, I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-4 thousand.

    IMHO of course.
  6. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    WOW!!! You guys on this site/forum are awesome. Thank you SO much for that information. You are certainly correct about the weight of the things too. Heavy is not a word that does it justice. However, from the way I understand things from looking at the video "audiokid" was so kind to attach for me to watch, they are made of steel. LOL I would NEVER want to sell something for a large amount of money (or a small amount of money for that matter) that did not work. I wish there was some way I could find out if they worked. So do I have 2 of them? One is that plain steel plate and one has those white squares (or is that the other side of the steel plate)? I know you all think I'm a fool, but I just would like to know exactly what it is I have. I thank you all so much for helping me. I'm happy I found this spot on the web. Not sure what I have done to be this fortunate. :)
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Our buddy Max recently acquired an EMT 140ST, and is in the process of putting it in his place. I'm sure as soon as he logs in here and sees the topic, he'll be jumping into the conversation. He's currently getting intimately acquainted with the inner-workings of them, and might be able to offer some thoughts on what to look for. Not unlike a B3 (or myself), they are the perfect storm of fragile fine wires, in a big hulking body, so there's a lot that CAN go wrong internally just from bouncing around too much.
  8. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Based on the pictures I'm seeing from Max, I'd say that is all one unit and you're seeing "the other side".
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That's what we're here for. :)

    We don't always profess to have all the answers - audio is a huge field of craft and study, with many specialties branching off from one another. Some are engineers who specialize in recording, some mixing, some both... as well as live sound reinforcement (PA), research, invention, acoutstic analysis and correction, studio construction design, mastering... (just to name a few LOL) - but you probably won't find a group that is more knowledgeable than the people who regularly hang out here to contribute - and, to learn ourselves from our peers.

    Don't take not knowing what you have to heart, either. What you have is an item from a by-gone era, vintage to be sure, but that doesn't make it unworthy. There are many engineers who still love to mix albums using plate reverb. It has it's own particular sound and signature, and is the sound of likely more albums than you'd ever have thought, from Nat King Cole to The Righteous Brothers to Van Halen... and so many others.

    Welcome to RO!


  10. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    Well you guys are just FULL of wonderful news....I think! ;) So I have 2 of the things. Leave it to me to go all out when I do something. ~~~sigh~~~ just my nature. When we unscrewed the side of the boxes yesterday I guess on one we unscrewed the steel plate side and on the other one we unscrewed the white panel side. Hey "audiokid" I was going to try to get some pictures like you said with me standing beside the amplifiers, but it's been pouring down rain here all day. I don't want to open the boxes up with weather like this. Plus the man who can open them and has the strength to even move them a small amount is not available. I need to find a strong man to help me get them opened up and moved into picture taking position. It is my understanding that I should keep them upright at all times. I will as soon as the weather permits. All the pictures I posted were taken yesterday, May 26, 2014, in Palestine, Texas.(y) You guys are the best. :love:
  11. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Personally, if I were you, I wouldn't get in a rush to disassemble anything until you hear from an expert, or potential buyer. I'd hate to see you accidentally break something that would drastically reduce it's value by guessing incorrectly. If you hope to sell it, wait for the prospective buyer to tell you what they want you to check.

    Take all the pictures you want. Pictures of the name badge and serial number would be important to any prospective buyer, and all you would need to get the ball rolling for anyone who is serious.

    Max has 25 beautifully detailed pictures of his EMT inside and out, but they're not mine to share.

    The white side is the "damping side" of the plate.

    The burning question now is, if this was in a lot labelled "large lot stereo equipment", what other sound nerd treasures were in there??

    Best of luck!
    kmetal likes this.
  12. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    OK, I totally understand. I can get the pictures of the plates with the serial number, etc without having to disassemble anything.
    Now for the other burning question about what other stereo equipment was included in this "LOT" at the auction. LOL Wait for it......wait for it.......
    An old Radio Shack reel-to-reel. It's cool though. I'm keeping that. LOL I always wanted one of those back in the day. That was it though. The old reel-to-reel and the two EMT 140s.
  13. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    I think the word "LARGE" the auction place used was mainly referring to the size of the wooden crates these things are housed in. With the 2 EMT 140s and the reel-to-reel, spent a total of $380. That was including the take the auction place got. It was a moving and storage company auction. One of the boxes is labeled with a big 3, and one says Studio B and one says Studio D.
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I still don't believe that you have two separate 140 plate units, Donna... I think you have one... the white that you saw wasn't another plate, it's the damping side of the one that you have... unless you have two crates with two plates...
  15. Donna

    Donna Active Member

    Nope, I have two of them. I will go out later and take another picture of them in the storage. There are two huge wooden crates. When we unscrewed the lid off of one of them I saw the steel plate of one. When we unscrewed the other one we obviously unscrewed the opposite side of the panel that we did on the other box and that's the side with the white showing. One of the crates is labeled Studio B and the other one is labeled Studio D. One of the crates has a big 3 stamped on it. I know none of this matters as to what they are but I'm just trying to let you know that there actually are 2 separate crates and panels. Oh yeah, another thing. One of them has a round thing that looks like a round canister with a plug attached to it. The other one does not have this canister thing on it, so it might be missing...not sure about that. Has German labeling on the canister. I found the picture on my phone that I took of that. In this picture you can see the two separate wooden crates a little bit, side by side, before we opened them. EMT140 Top.jpg
  16. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Wow. That does indeed look like the top of 2 separate units. And to be clear, the "two huge wooden crates" aren't just shipping crates. You should think of that as the cabinet the plate lives in, not just for transporting.
    bigtree likes this.
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    The metal canister might house the motor - used to move and adjust the dampers on the plates.
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Road trip anyone? I work w a dude who owned two in the 80s, and would love to have one back, I can ask him about them, and how to test, what to look for, ect. This guy probably remembers the model number of his, lol. Awesomeness!

    He told be he had a servo motor hooked up to the spring tensioner, hooked up to a knob in the CR so he could vary the verb time from the mix position. But that was a mod he had done, and not part of the original design.

    Honestly, there's a pretty good chance we'd be interested, a very good chance. We drove to Delaware for a set of speakers, so.... That's not a huge deal.

    Needless to say I'll be watching this closely. Great find! If it's ok, I'd to to PM you to talk further about the details of the sale/purchase. Good luck either way!
  19. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    What you have is indeed a nice find... HOWEVER... Please know that inadequate knowledge of these devices can immediately destroy any real value of these items.

    While they weigh in at over 350 lbs, they are EXTREMELY fragile, and with parts in hard to find condition... PLEASE be careful with these and DO NOT MOVE them without a solid understanding of how to prepare them for moving.

    On the top of one, I'm seeing a fairly expensive option... a motorized damper. The other one should have a handle with an indicator of time on a plate attached to the box itself.

    If not, it may be incomplete, and or parts missing... which may be indicative of a unit in less than working condition.

    If you are looking to sell them, I would suggest contacting buyers NOW, as it would really be in the buyers best interest to not allow the units to be moved by anyone other than someone with qualifications and/or appreciation for how delicate these units are.
    dvdhawk and kmetal like this.
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I'm going to chime in here also since I also had a pair of plates. Back in the late 1970s and the other in the early 1980s.

    It was created in 1958 by DR. KUHL. When EMT made these cold rolled steel plates... due to imperfections, 60% were rejected.

    Since these plates are very prone to rust. They were originally coated with linseed oil. Which kind of makes them, at this age, stage, vintage look pretty nasty. And where some uninformed, mindless engineers, cleaned off those horrible sticky, dusty, dirty icky things. And then whoops... the next time you open the box to tweak the plate, it's all rusted! So it's not designed to look pretty. And you don't want to clean the plate, of anything.

    Secondary information was that a single nut, at 2 of the 4 corners, were to be turned counterclockwise, 1/4 turn, before ever moving them. And upon moving them, if you were lazy? You only needed to tighten those to back up, one quarter turn. But if you were good? You would tune all 4 corners.

    Now the tuning instructions for those metal strap and piano string clips, coming from the Germans, was rather goofy LOL. Almost too goofy to believe? The basic instruction was to tighten them, until the piano string wire clip, snapped and broke. Then you were to put another one on to replace the broken one. Tune up almost as tight. But not quite as tight. LMAO that is the most imprecise set of German instructions/directions, I've ever read LOL.

    As seen in that 1st video, he was tuning his with a torque wrench. I tuned mine, by ear, in a similar way to that of a violin. They had to be the same pitch on all 8.

    They were also offered with and without that top motorized version and the manual hand cranked, non-motorized version. They originally cost about $5000. The 1st ones used tube circuitry and were mono. The later transistorized ST versions were of course, stereo. The pickups were basically akin to a child's record player with a crystal cartridge. That's a crystal pickup. Later modifications by others replaced those with Barcus Berry & FRAP, pickups. In the early 1970s a few enterprising folks stuck 4 pickups and 2 more amplifiers for quadraphonic. Today you could certainly go really crazy and stick on 6, 8 or 10! Or 9 if that Tickles your fancy?
    Yes the corners of the steel plate can be damaged. It's happened to others. They can generally be shored up and fixed. With the help of a little spot welding and reinforcements to the corners.

    It should be also interesting to note that no 2 ever sounded alike. And even some badly rusted ones sounded better than others in pristine condition. And those were the plates of the 40%, that weren't rejected. So the rust is not necessarily a dealbreaker. But you're likely going to have to accept less?

    I have found the going rate for these to still be up around $2500 in decent condition. Considering their age, they have certainly held their value.

    One of the interesting things that gave these Plates their sizzle. And they did have this really cool sizzling sound to them. Some folks hated that. Others love that. I loved it. To me that was the defining sound that separated EMT Plate reverbs, from everything else. Part of that sound is inherent to the plate itself. It was further enhanced, in that in the drive amplifier, similar to that of a record-Cutting head, a huge amount of high-frequency preemphasis, was being driven into the driver. This also helped to modify the high-frequency RT 60 to that of the lower frequencies, extending them.

    The change in the reverb time was done by that white hunk of a chunk of basically fiberglass ceiling tiles. And the damper, even at the shortest reverb setting, never touched the plate. I believe you had a dial in the adjustment distance of approximately 1/8 inch, at the shortest time, from touching the plate. And when fully retracted from the plate, RT 60 was 4.5 seconds. Then we had fun gating that. That was the 1980s that popularized that sound. I think Bob Clearmountain jokes about adding too much to his snare drums back then and laughs about it, today. Or so he has said to me and others.

    Some folks even went as far as replacing the driver amplifier. Lots of folks felt that basically, the EMT driver electronics, was underpowered. So you can have more fun testing and tasting different drive amplifiers. Try a Macintosh compared to a Crown. And then use the equalization network of your choice to add whatever preemphasis you want. There is no deemphasis on the pickup electronics. If memory serves me correctly? Memories are fading. My last plate went away in 1993.

    Another interesting addition that was in the EMT drive electronics was that of a switch on the circuit board. This switch engaged a 2:1 compressor on the drive amplifier. And throughout the years that I owned them and used them, I would occasionally switch it on and occasionally switch it off. Most of the time off. But frequently on. And I never really developed any particular preference to be just either way. Why that switch was not included on the remote control? I'll never know? It would have been so much more convenient. Some of these things were suspended by springs from ceiling rafters 23 feet up above the floors. Mine were all at ground level. The 1st one I didn't have an actual room to put the EMT plate into. Because they were electromechanical devices, they were also extremely susceptible to any ambient surrounding noise. Not installed correctly, you could hear conversations going on in surrounding offices LOL. And that made for a spooky sounding mix LOL. It was like WTF is that? It's a poltergeist in a reverb plate! And then everybody goes screaming running out of the control room. So we just built a huge insulated wooden box on rubber grommets to stick the plate into. And that just sat off to the side of the entry Bay. You couldn't have any traffic coming or going, near that thing, when you were using it.

    I think the patent expired in 1982? Upon its expiration, a few other companies started making knockoffs. Some didn't like the idea of a 60% rejection rate of the cold rolled steel just to get a good sounding reverb. So, stainless steel was tried. It was wild sounding! And the rejection ratio was extremely small. Which made the manufacturing of those much more attractive. And no need for nasty sticky dirty linseed oil. So my 1st plate was the EMT 140 ST. My 2nd Plate, was the big Studio Technologies of Chicago, stainless steel plate. And if you think an EMT is bright sounding? You ain't heard nothin' yet. It was a bit bright for Opera. And I did a fair amount of Opera. So you needed to mush that down a bit. I tried stuff like EQ and duct tape on the plate LOL.

    Something else not completely intuitive about how they work. You'd think that with the driver connected, physically, to the steel plate, that the reverb comes from the plates vibration laterally? As in back and forth from, essentially the cone of the speaker that was screwed to the plate. But that's not how it worked, no. The sound actually travels longitudinally, from corner to corner, edge to age. Like dust blowing over a highway. And not an earthquake. Which would be lateral excursion. Or did my brain damage get my nomenclature, backwards? I don't think so? Any who... there are also some YouTube DIY videos how to make your own. Not just any cold rolled steel will do. Some can be so bad as to sound like you simply have stretched out your old trashcan. And used that. Yuck. Then you're better off with digital limitations. I mean imitations, emulations, DeForest Kelley. He's dead Jim!

    Lying them down like your mattresses ain't the way they should be. That will definitely destroy the alignment with the driver. More so than it will for pickups. Either way you don't want that to happen. They should be stored edge on side or bottom. They can be mounted vertically. Though most of the time they are mounted horizontally. They actually take up more room that way.

    Also connected to the boxes, at both ends are a pair of metal plates extending outside the box with a pair of holes in them. These can be used to hang and mount them that way. But they were actually intended to stick a couple of round woodendowels through them. So you could get 4 people to move the thing. Though most folks just used 2 burly guys. Who really weren't burly because we were all recording engineers LOL. That's okay, it wasn't something you would move around often. They're not meant to be moved. Not really. Any bending or flexing of the frame and you've got 350 pounds of worthless reverb.

    Improperly moving the plate without the one quarter turn loosening at least 2 of the corners, can cause a corner support pair of clips to break and bend the corner of the plate at one of the corners. But if you're real real careful? You may not sustain any damage? But why find out? It's like tuning a guitar. You tune it when you get it even though the factory did it before they shipped it. That don't make it right LOL. So tuning it is an art unto itself. And everybody thinks they know the best way to go about tuning a plate. So do I. Of course... I'm the one that's right LOL.

    When I started my truck in 1991, I was thinking about trying to get one of the EMT gold foil, 240's. The demonstrations I heard made this one 6th sized gizmo in comparison to the 140 make you long for one. They were stellar sounding! But they were right on the cusp of the EMT 250. I don't think many were made and I don't think many were sold? I thought it would be great to have one for my truck instead of those dismal digital thingies we all use. I've only seen one used extremely broken one. It looked like it may have been the only survivor of the World Trade Center? It looked like it fell 3 stories to the concrete. Not even worthy of parts.

    Someone like myself might be thinking, I wonder if one of those ones you have may have been one of my former EMT's? Did you by any chance find a little chunk of some black hash? Then it's probably mine? It worked wonders for tuning. By the way... I might have a nice bridge for sale you'd like?

    (I can't help but think... I'm moving to Austin, by summer. Maybe we should talk? 202-239-7412 and please leave me a message. I miss mine so bad. And the ones I didn't own and used. I know we can work a deal .)

    Help Me, help me... I'm melting ;-)
    Mx. Remy Ann David
    kmetal likes this.

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