Whether you are a home recording musician, or you own a commercial recording studio one of the biggest ongoing investments you make are for good quality plugins. Keeping up with what is new in analog modeling plugin technology can be daunting to say the least. If you are at all like me, you have a large list of plugins that you thought you just had to have and now just sit in your list and are rarely if ever used. So, it stands to reason that over the years I have become more selective in my plugin purchases.
Steven Slate started his career sneaking into Grammy parties in LA with a pocket full of burned CDR’s of Drum Samples he created, which he would hand out to top audio engineers with the hopes of getting to work with one. As things go that did not work out they way he intended, these engineers wanted more of these drum samples and Steven Slate Drums was born. The hallmark of the company was not only a collection of high quality drum samples but the development of “Trigger”, a software system that delivered these samples in a user friendly way. This changed the way drum samples were used in the professional and home recording market.
In 2008 Steven Slate met DSP designer Fabrice Gabriel at an AES convention and the pair teamed up to create Slate Digital. Their first product was the award winning FG-X Mastering plugin suite, which was specifically designed to combat the Loudness vs Dynamic range war. This innovative plugin was employed a new method of creating perceived loudness without sacrificing the Dynamic Range of the music. From this beginning the pair went on to pioneer the creation of analog modeled plugins from Virtual tape machines, console emulations, compressors, eq’s etc.
A few years ago I purchased the Virtual Console Collection to use on my channels and for adding an analog summing feel. The fact is this plugin collection gave my mixes so much warmth and character, I ended up having the plugin on every track as part of my normal template when starting a new session. I was always curious about Slate Digital’s other plugins, but like I said earlier I have become more conservative in my plugin purchases. So, when Slate started offering the “Everything Bundle” I figured what the hell, for $15 bucks a month or the cost of a couple of Starbucks Coffee’s I can try out all the plugs in the collection to see if I would even use them. The upside was if they were not something I could or would use, I can just cancel and only be out a couple bucks.
Now the first project I tried these plugins on was one of my “Problem Child” projects that I get every couple months. I am hired to record a local music school’s “School of Rock” showcase at a local venue. As you can imagine, the quality of tone, consistency and performances, well let’s just say, vary greatly from band to band and even from song to song! After the initial recording is done, I take the recorded tracks into my studio and mix them using my DAW and plugins so they can be married to a video of their performance, which is given to the kids and posted on the web. I will be honest, this project usually takes all my engineering skills to eke out a decent sound from these tracks. I am faced with almost every nightmare scenario such as weak bass drum hits, low (insecure) vocals, buzzing guitar amps, etc. you name it! More often than not, I would end up spending more time than I would prefer to get these mixes done.
I decided to use the Slate Digital Bundle exclusively on this session to see what they can do. I used mainly the stock presets for just about every track I used them on. As I added the plugins to the channels, I began to notice the mix coming together. By the time I had gotten to the last of the tracks I sat back and listened and was absolutely floored by the quality of what I was hearing. What the Slate Digital plugins did with just the standard presets was nothing short of amazing. With a few tweaks here and there, some gain staging, I had a more than satisfactory mix!
In the months after this initial experience, I have come to rely more and more on the Slate Digital Plugins. I can honestly say that there is not a single project that comes into the studio that does not in some way utilize this suite of tools. One of the best features of having this “Everything Bundle” is the fact that Slate Digital continues to develop new plugins which are made available to users for no extra charge. It’s like getting new plugins for free every couple months. Not bad for the cost of a couple Starbucks!
So if you think about it, for less than the cost of a single plugin (over the course of a year) or a 1 Pizza month, you can have access to a suite of plugins that will change the way you mix and master. NOTE: Slate Digital’s “Everything Bundle” or any single plugin requires an ilok2! Now remember Slate Digital is always adding new plugins to the suite but as of the writing of this review..
Here is what you get:
The FG-Stress is a digital replication of one of the industry’s most highly coveted analog compressors, the Empirical Labs Distressor. Every aspect of the Distressor has been modeled, which is no simple task due to the Distressor’s unique topology where every ratio is essentially a different compressor! Like the hardware in which it models, the FG-Stress can mimic the tone of some of the industry’s most famous compressors like punchy VCAs, fat tube compressors, and even vintage opto units.
Repeater features 23 authentic emulations of classic delay machines ranging from classic oil cans and tape machines to vintage digital designs – it’s packed with sounds and new features that will add depth to your mixes, and it comes with a user interface that’s immediately easy to understand and tweak.
Reverb is perhaps the most fundamental effect in audio production. Over the past several decades several classic digital reverb units have become staples for professional mixing engineers, and VerbSuite Classics brings you ALL OF THEM.
VIRTUAL MIX RACK
Virtual Mix Rack allows audio engineers to create the channel strips of their dreams using a 500 series-style rack along with a library full of analog modeled plugins. Choose from dozens of modules including vintage modeled EQs, compressors, enhancers, filters, preamps, mixing consoles, and more. But even beyond the sound you can get with Virtual Mix Rack, you also get the added bonus of speed and efficiency from having your entire processing chain in one convenient window. The Virtual Mix Rack ships with the Mix Bundle One, which contains six Slate Digital processing modules.
FG-X MASTERING PROCESSOR
VIRTUAL CONSOLE COLLECTION
VIRTUAL BUSS COMPRESSORS
FG-116 BLUE SERIES FET COMPRESSORS
The FG-116 Blue series authentically recreates the tone of two vintage “rev A” FET limiting amplifiers, and then offers two uniquely modernized versions of the classic FET circuit. With vintage and modern tones and clever features like hi pass detection and a parallel mix knob, the Blue series can be used all across your mixes.
VIRTUAL PREAMP COLLECTION
AIR & EARTH EQ
In addition to the actual Air and Earth filters themselves, both modules feature resonant filters (HiCut for the Air and LoCut for the Earth), with slopes from 6dB to 36dB/oct.
THE MONSTER EXTREME DYNAMIC PROCESSOR
CUSTOM SERIES BUNDLE
VIRTUAL TAPE MACHINES
Digital recording is now the standard for professional music production, but many engineers and musicians still long for the days of analog recording.
And they do for good reason – Analog Tape Machines have a SOUND.
Big, fat, warm, deep, rich and exciting are just some of the terms used to describe what recording onto a piece of magnetic tape sounds like. To those that know, tape is simply more musical. So we modeled two of the most famous tape machines in audio and provide them both along with options like bias, tape speed, tape type, and more in Virtual Tape Machines.
Michael Scuffham created S-Gear to solve this problem. It’s an entire suite of plugins designed specifically for the recording guitarist (and bassist), offering multiple hyper-realistic tube amplifiers, speaker cabinets, and studio-quality effects in one package. S-Gear’s boutique-designed amps and effects – coupled with accurate convolution-based speaker cabinet emulation by RedWirez – gives you a truly professional guitar sound without the expense and hassle.
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