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Black Rooster RO140 Review – The Only Plate Reverb You’ll Need

The Black Rooster RO140 is an amazing plugin that has gained much attention for its Plate Reverb sound, which can replicate vintage reverb tones accurately. Priced at $29, the six plate materials and sizes make simulating a dynamically complex yet vintage reverb sound easily achievable.

If you’re someone who prefers the old-school sound, read more to decide if the RO140 suits you.

Quick Verdict: Is Black Rooster RO140 Worth It?

RO140 is for you if

  • You like the sound and feel of traditional analog units but aren’t ready to invest a significant amount in them. 
  • You need a realistically emulated reverb that adds vintage color instantly.
  • You value clarity and ease of use, along with control.

It’s not for you if

  • You prefer the actual physical plate reverb unit.
  • You prefer a modern sound to your music.
Black Rooster RO140
4.5
$ 29

The RO140 is a reverb plugin that can be used to simulate sonically dynamic environments. It is ideal for anyone wishing to try out different plate reverb materials and sizes. Priced at $29, the plugin has a pleasing color scheme, straightforward functionality for quick output, and a gain-staging facility, making it a compelling buy.

Vintage Reverb Sound:
5.0
Plate Materials & Size:
5.0
Sound Quality:
4.0
Utility, Graphics & Ease in Navigation:
4.0
Ease of Use:
5.0
Pros:
  • Emulates analog units with physical modeling.Cheaper than other EMT Plate Reverb plugins.Unique design, color, and single-screen layout.Awesome choices of plate material and size options.
Cons:
  • Lacks features compared to other EMT plugins (like UAD’s EMT140).Changing the plate material has very little impact on tone. You need a trained ear to notice.
Trial?: Available
OS Compatibility: Windows 7+, MacOS X 10.9+
Size: 500 Mb

Black Rooster RO140 Review – Overview

RO140 is a VST plugin that recreates the sound of a vintage plate reverb plugin. The EMT 140 and other vintage plate reverbs inspired the creation of the RO-140.

The EMT 140 was a German-made plate reverberator frequently utilized in studios because of its lush and warm tone. It was first released in the late 1950s. With added control and customization possibilities, the RO-140 strives to replicate the sound and feel of these vintage machines. 

Black Rooster RO140 Review

Features

  • Emulation Of A Vintage Plate Reverb
  • 6 Plate Materials
  • Plate Size Controller Knob
  • Dampening Control
  • Pre-Delay Control
  • Adjustable Gain-Staging

The Good

  • Adjust plate size and reverb decay with one knob.
  • Dampen the plate and change the reverb tail with a damper.
  • Add delay before reverb with a pre-delay knob.
  • Shape reverb frequency with low-cut and high-cut filters.

Downsides

  • You need a trained ear to notice the difference in plate materials.

How It Sounds

Sample 1

Applying the RO140 to a piano track provides a unique tone to the reverb. 

12Piano – DRY
13Damper Piano RO140 – Steel-6D-Small – WET
Material Type Parameter
  • The steel plate material increases density and stiffness, giving it distinct metallic and resonant qualities. 
  • It enhances the reverberation effect by reflecting and transmitting sound waves, allowing for a heightened perception of the clarity and definition of the piano. 
  • By leveraging the simulated properties of the steel plate in RO140, we can achieve a greater level of control over the tonal characteristics and response of the reverb.

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  • The damper setting of 6 makes the reverb tail long and dark. 
  • This shapes the high frequencies within the EQ curve in the reverb and makes the piano sound more natural and smooth.

Size Parameter

  • When the size knob is adjusted to the small setting, the reverb algorithm emulates the characteristics of a smaller plate, which leads to a more condensed and tighter reverb response with reduced diffusion and ambiance.

Sample 2 

12Piano – DRY
14Damper Piano RO140 – Steel-6D-Large – WET

image17

  • With a damper setting of 6, we have partial damping applied. 
  • The reflections in the reverb have a level of decay that allows some sustain and resonance to be present in the reverb tail. 
  • This creates a more natural reverb sound, resembling the interaction between the piano strings and the dampers in an acoustic piano.

Size Parameter

  • Focusing on the choice of plate material, steel is the most dense material among the options provided. 
  • It offers a higher degree of reflection and resonance. 
  • In the context of this piano track, it enhances the clarity and brightness of the reverberation, adding a subtle metallic character to the sound.

Sample 3

19Vocals- DRY
20Damper Vocals RO140 – Steel-5D – WET

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  • In this example, the damper control in RO140 is set to 5, indicating a moderate level of damping. 
  • The decay of the reverb reflections occurs at a medium rate, allowing some sustain and resonance to be present in the reverb tail. 
  • It maintains the vocals’ natural character, creating a balance between clarity and ambiance

Material Type Parameter

  • Refer to the explanation of the Steel setting given in example 1

Sample 4

1Drums DRY
Drums RO140 – Steel-7D- WET

Material Type Parameter

image18 e1709610840512

Even at a damping level of 7, the absorption is quite moderate. This allows the reverb to add a bit of sheen, creating a sense of space without overwhelming the original drum hits.

Size Parameter

The small size setting produces shorter reverb tails, resulting in a tighter and more focused drum track.

Sample 5

1Drums DRY
3Material Drums RO140 – Bronze-5D- WET

Material Type Parameter

  • In this example, we chose the bronze plate to give it some warmth and smoothness. 
  • Notice the change in tone of the snare as bronze has a 10% higher density than steel.

image17 1

  • The damper setting of 5 makes the reverb darker than the damper setting of 7, as more high frequencies would be attenuated.

Sample 6

1Drums DRY
4Material Drums RO140 – Titanium-5D- WET

Material Type Parameter

  • In this example, we tried out the titanium plate material on RO140. 
  • Titanium has a lower damping coefficient than steel, which quickly dissipates vibrations. 
  • This contributes to a slightly darker and warmer sound in the reverb produced by the titanium plate. 
  • We can also hear a mild change in tone compared to steel and bronze, which could be the result of the density of titanium.
  • The titanium plate sounds brighter and more airy, as it has a higher resonance and a lower density than steel.

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  • We kept the damper at 5 to cut off more high frequencies to mitigate the potential harshness or sibilance that may occur on cymbals and snares. 
  • As titanium has a higher frequency response than steel or bronze, it exhibits enhanced clarity and brightness, as heard in this example.

Sample 7

1Drums DRY
5Size Large – Drums RO140 – Bronze-5D-WET

Material Type Parameter

  • In this drum sample, we’ve tried out the bronze plate material on the RO140. 
  • Notice how the damper setting of 5 allows the plate vibrations to decay moderately, altering the reverb’s frequency response. 
  • Bronze lies between steel and titanium in terms of density. 
  • The resonant frequency and tone depend on plate material density. Bronze, being less dense than steel but denser than titanium, has a balanced, pleasant tone and a gradual release, which affects the way the reverb encapsulates the drums. 
  • Notice how the bronze adds richness and color to the reverb while preserving clarity, complementing the percussion track.

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  • We wanted to add some richness and warmth to the drums, so we set the damper to 5.
  • As a result, the high-frequency components of the reverb signal are not attenuated. 
  • Also, this damper setting controls the decay time, and the bronze plate material adds the tonal character, giving the drum track a desirable reverb effect.

Sample 8

6Arp – DRY
7Arp RO140 – Steel-Small – WET

image8 e1709611159714

  • Using the RO140 on a keyboard arp track creates a natural-sounding reverb with a moderate decay time. 
  • The damper setting of 4 makes the reverb tail moderately shortened.
  • The metallic character enhances the keyboard arp track by adding warmth, texture, intimacy, and dimension.

Size Parameter

  • The small plate size makes the reverb simulate a small plate with a short length and width. 
  • This makes the reverb sound more compact, focused, and less diffused.

Sample 9

6Arp – DRY
8Size Large Arp RO140 – Steel-4D- WET

image8 e1709611159714

  • A damper setting of 4 introduces moderate damping to the plate vibrations, reducing high-frequency content and creating a more natural sound.

Material Type Parameter

  • Refer to the explanation of the steel setting given in Sample 1.

image8 1 e1709611358488

  • As seen here, a larger plate size provides a longer decay, which fills up more of the space around the arp.
  • However, at the same time, it can also lead to a lack of definition.

Sample 10

9Guitar DRY
10Damper Guitar RO140 – Steel-2D-Small – WET

Material Type Parameter

  • Using the steel plate on a guitar track creates a tonal characteristic that is ideal for emphasizing the higher frequencies. 
  • Notice how this setting enhances the guitar track by adding sparkle, texture, and dimension.

Size Parameter

  • Refer to the explanation of the small size setting given in Example 1.

Sample 11

9Guitar DRY
11Damper Guitar RO140 – Steel-2D-Large – WET

image13

  • A damper setting of 2 on a steel plate adds a light touch of metallic resonance to the reverb tail.
  • Notice how the reverb enhances the guitar track with a bright and shimmering quality, achieved by emphasizing the higher frequency range. 
  • The reverb’s decay time is long, allowing the notes to sustain and resonate gracefully.

image8 1 e1709611358488

  • Refer to the explanation of the small size setting given in Example 2.

Pricing

RO140 has a price point advantage of $29. It sets itself apart by being below $50 and competing with the few select expensive plugins in the $80-$500 range.

Interface & Ease of Use

The plugin’s color palette and contrast make it easy to navigate. The user interfaces on both Windows and Mac OS systems support high pixel density, providing the most pleasurable user experience on high DPI displays.

The zero-latency aspect of it makes it perfect for real-time monitoring or live settings as it does not require sample delay compensation. 

Control Knobs & Presets

  1. Material Type Parameter
Material Type Parameter

The material knob on RO140 can control the material emulation of the virtual reverb chamber or plate. This parameter changes the reverb effect’s tonal or resonant properties to imitate materials like steel, aluminum, bronze, silver, gold, and titanium. These are set in the order of their density. 

  1. Size Parameter
Size Parameter

RO140’s Size Knob helps you choose between a small plate reverb, a large plate, and anywhere in between. You can set it depending on the specific sound you want to achieve and the desired reverb intensity and presence in the mix. 

  1. Damper Level Controls
Damper Level Controls

RO140 has a damping control feature. Damping affects the number of higher frequencies in the reverb sound. With the physically modeled version of traditional dampening control, you can fully regulate the reverb decay time and select between 10 damper positions by clicking the + and – buttons.

  1. Typical Pre-Delay Control
Typical Pre Delay Control

The PRE/DELAY range on the RO140 is divided into two sections: the first part ranges from 0 to 1 ms, which is suitable for very short pre-delay times, while the second part ranges from 1 to 500 ms, providing a broader range for longer pre-delay times.. 

  • Function: Pre-delay can be used to add separation and clarity to a mix by allowing the initial attack of the sound to cut through before the reverb kicks in. It can also be used to create a sense of space and depth in a mix.
  • Application: To apply pre-delay in a plate reverb plugin, you need to adjust the pre-delay parameter. Longer pre-delay settings will add more depth to the reverb when the dry signal is up front in the mix. Shorter pre-delay settings will attach the “wet” reverb to the dry signal more closely, with the wet/dry balance determining how distant the original, dry sound will appear to be.
  • Effect: In terms of acoustic space, adding pre-delay has the same effect as distancing the original sound source from the closest reflective surfaces, which usually defines a bigger space but could also give clues to the listener’s position in a space.

For example, if you turn the knob to 50 ms, it will add 50 ms of pre-delay to your reverb, and the effect will sound 50 ms after the onset of the track. This enables the track’s initial attack to cut through before the reverb kicks in. 

  1. Adjustable Gain-Staging
Adjustable Gain Staging

RO140’s gain staging is excellent for adjusting the dB level so that it is at the optimum volume for the upcoming plugin in the chain to control clipping. RO140 allows adjusting the output gain levels for both pre- and post-processing using the fader switches on either side of the plugin. 

However, don’t set it too high to the point where it causes unpleasant artifacts.

  1. Bass Cut Parameter
Bass Cut Parameter

The Bass Cut is a useful knob that allows you to apply a high-pass filter to your audio signal. You can cut the bass frequencies at any desired frequency point between 10 Hz and 1000 Hz.

By restricting unwanted reverb from entering your low-end, this knob helps clean up and enhance the overall clarity and balance of your audio recordings.

  1. 3-Band EQ
3 Band EQ

The Black Rooster Audio RO140 features a 3-band parametric EQ section, allowing you to shape your audio recordings’ reverb signal. This EQ section consists of three separate bands: low, mid, and high, each with its own unique characteristics and frequency cutoff points.

A. 200hz Cut-Off: 

The low-shelf filter has a frequency cutoff set at 200 Hz, aimed at attenuating or boosting frequencies below the cutoff point. This allows you to adjust the presence and impact of the lower frequencies in your reverb signal.

B. 400Hz Cut-off:

The midband employs a bandpass filter with a frequency cutoff set at 400 Hz. It allows only a specific range of frequencies to pass through, effectively creating a narrow sound band. You can precisely control the mid-range frequencies of your reverb signal, emphasizing or reducing certain elements as desired.

C. 900hz Cut-Off:

Finally, there’s the high band, which incorporates a high-pass filter with a frequency cutoff set at 900 Hz, allowing you to shape the high-frequency content of your reverb signal while adding brightness or attenuating unnecessary room reverb.

8. Output Modes

Output Modes

The Black Rooster Audio RO140 offers three output modes: mono, mono to stereo, and stereo.

A. Mono mode:

Mono mode emulates the flow of the signal from the output of the bass cut to a plate with only one electrical transducer and one pickup. This results in a single-channel audio output.

B. Mono to Stereo Mode:

The mono-to-stereo mode emulates the signal being sent to a plate with one electrical transducer and two separate pickups placed on different plate parts. This creates a stereo image even if the source is mono, adding width to the audio.

C. Stereo Mode: 

Each channel from the output of the bass cut is sent to two separate, identical mono plates. Each plate has its own electrical transducer and pickup, producing a full stereo output with distinct left and right channels.

9. SSE2 Optimized Code:

As per their manual, RO140 uses SSE2 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 2). It is optimized code in a plugin, which provides significant benefits to audio engineers during music production.

By utilizing the instruction set, the plugin can efficiently perform complex Digital Signal Processing (DSP) operations.

DSP operations are fundamental to audio processing tasks and involve manipulating and analyzing audio signals in the digital domain. Since these operations require intensive computations, optimizing them with SSE2 instructions within the reverb plugin allows for faster and more efficient processing.

10. High Dpi/Retina Support:

The plugin’s user interfaces are designed to support high-pixel-density displays on both Windows and Mac OS systems. This ensures that you can enjoy a visually pleasing and crisp user experience on your high-DPI display.

However, it’s recommended to refer to your Digital Audio Workstation’s (DAW) manual to learn whether it is HighDPI compatible.

Support & User Community Forums

RO140 provides a manual on their website. Although it’s just an overview, not a lot of detail is provided in it. There is not a lot of help online as well. However, there has been quite a lot of discussion on music production forums. 

Many users feel that the idea behind the RO140 is that you can find the most beneficial aspects of plate types in an affordable $29 package. 

One noticeable user review, which we agree with (image below), highlights that the RO140 goes especially well on snares and guitars. The user explains how some reverb plugins are too lush, so they end up muddying the mix. 

The inherent flavor of the RO140’s plates is surely a breath of fresh air in the reverb plugin market. 

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Competition & Alternatives

RO140 Alternatives

  • Arturia’s Rev Plate 1402 ($99)
  • SuperPlate3($149)
  • UAD EMT140($199)

Arturia’s Rev Plate-1402 replicates the legendary EMT 140 reverb’s circuitry and vacuum tube preamp, producing a full-bodied studio plate reverb with a luscious tail.

Soundtoys’ SuperPlate offers various reverb devices, and UAD’s EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverberator simulates three different EMT 140s with analog coloration.

The Tube, Solid-State, and Clean provide the warmth and beauty of the legendary plate reverb.

However, the Black Rooster RO140 has a plus point in terms of its cost and scope of sound design with the six-plate material and size emulations. 

Technical Aspects

We stress-tested the RO140 by Black Rooster Audio on a Windows i3 computer with 8 GB of RAM. Overall, it performed smoothly, and it did not use a lot of CPU space.

Mac:

  •    macOSX 10.9+
  •     64-bit Intel/Apple processor
  •     1GB RAM
  •      500mb 

Windows:

  •     Windows 7+
  •     64-bit
  •     Intel Core Processor
  •     1GB RAM
  •      500mb

Final Verdict

The RO140 is a reverb plugin that can be used to simulate dynamic environments with the aid of its reverb. It is ideal for anyone wishing to test different plate reverb materials and sizes.

Along with other facilities, the plugin has a pleasing color scheme, straightforward functionality for quick output, and a gain-staging facility.

Black Rooster RO140
4.5
$ 29

The RO140 is a reverb plugin that can be used to simulate sonically dynamic environments. It is ideal for anyone wishing to try out different plate reverb materials and sizes. Priced at $29, the plugin has a pleasing color scheme, straightforward functionality for quick output, and a gain-staging facility, making it a compelling buy.

Vintage Reverb Sound:
5.0
Plate Materials & Size:
5.0
Sound Quality:
4.0
Utility, Graphics & Ease in Navigation:
4.0
Ease of Use:
5.0
Pros:
  • Emulates analog units with physical modeling.Cheaper than other EMT Plate Reverb plugins.Unique design, color, and single-screen layout.Awesome choices of plate material and size options.
Cons:
  • Lacks features compared to other EMT plugins (like UAD’s EMT140).Changing the plate material has very little impact on tone. You need a trained ear to notice.
Trial?: Available
OS Compatibility: Windows 7+, MacOS X 10.9+
Size: 500 Mb

FAQ

How Do Plate Reverbs Sound?

The tone of the plate reverb is typically described as smooth and bright. It allows melodic instruments to shine through the mix without sounding harsh. However, plate reverbs are an acoustic simulation of natural reverb. They may be perceived as artificial due to their lack of realism and distinct tonal coloration. 

Also, their short decay time usually makes them sound more pronounced and defined..

What Are The Various Methods Used To Create Reverb?

The different techniques for creating reverb include utilizing chambers of different sizes for room or hall reverb and employing metal sheets and springs for plate and spring reverb. Digital emulation plugins are also used to emulate all these types of reverbs.

  • Actual rooms and buildings serve as the basis for emulating physical spaces.
  • Mechanical reverbs simulate the natural reverb by utilizing metal and electricity. 
  • Digital reverbs generate realistic-sounding reverberation through computer operations and software by mapping the impulse responses of various spaces and emulating their parameters digitally.

Which Is The Most Popular Material Used For Plate Reverb?
The most popular material used for plate reverb is steel. Steel is the stiffest, most affordable, and readily available of most other metals. Engineers and producers prefer it for a smoother, more realistic-sounding reverb.
Moreover, stainless steel plates provide more consistency due to their high density.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a different type of audio looping software solution, take a look at our Audioblast Instalooper 3 review for a comprehensive look at its features and capabilities.

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