My thoughts on demoing the Slate Virtual Mic Collection

My thoughts on demoing the Slate Virtual Mic Collection
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#1

The plugins themselves are far more usable than the mic. Too bad you can’t get them without buying that mic and preamp.

Also, unlike the Townsend Sphere, the plugins work without the mic, and they worked perfectly fine on the Blue Bottle. Matter of fact, I REALLY liked what they did. I like them better than the Townsend sphere. I have no use whatsoever for that DA converter.

So I think the plugins themselves would be worth about $250 is we presume they’re on the same quality level of the UAD Oceanway package. I think the mic itself is worth about $400 as a usable instrument/tool. The reason I say this is that thing (standalone) is about the quality equivalent of a Rode NT1 or an AT 4040. This is NOT NOT NOT a C414, Charter oak E700, or TLM 103 quality mic. I really don’t think that VMC one converter has anything to offer that a Scarlett solo does not. So I’m going to give that VMC converter thing a fair market value of $100 because thats what Focusrite sells theirs for.


#2

The purpose of the mic and converter is so that the software can operate in a controlled environment. The software knows what the mic and preamp sound like, so they can compensate and accurately model the other stuff. By providing the mic, they are taking out some major variables from the equation.

It’s perfectly possible that the software will sound better with other mics. That doesn’t seem surprising to me at all. But it will sound less accurate to what they were trying to do. But less accurate could mean a lot better (or a lot worse).


#3

So…my conclusion:

I’m going to say this IS a good overall package if you actually need the package. As in you don’t already have a Rode NT1 and a Scarlet. At $1000, you’re paying for innovation and versatility. No one including Steven himself is claiming that having a stereo pair of these would actually give you a $180k mic locker. What he says is that you have a very usable tool for an affordable price. That I agree with (again, if you need the tool).


#4

I did have my suspicions about that mic


#5

Alan, there’s not a whole lot to be suspicious of. This thing works. I mean, its a legitimately functional mic and there’s nothing that makes it unusable. Just don’t let anyone tell you it sounds as good as or sounds indistinguishable from a real C800. Steven doesn’t even claim that. He says…

"…I think the democratization of a lot of these tools is a fabulous thing. I think everyone should enjoy the art of creating music. Its a beautiful thing.

I’m not saying this mic is the same as having all these mics…but can that kid who’s 21 years old who just spent his life savings on re-capping an old crapy console - can he afford this stuff [referring to $18,000+ mics]? And if the answers no then I don’t like that. What can I do so that he can still record, but I can keep the lights on and feed the guys here? Ya know?"

Him and Brandon Drury had a thing or two in common about doing something to make recording realistic and affordable. After really listening to Steve Slate talk about this stuff, I’m convinced he’s genuinely interested in bringing an affordable and versatile solution to guys that don’t have the resources to go balls to the wall on top dollar mics.


#6

for the money its a lot of kit. virtual mic locker without repair bills?

the comparison to having old original Smithsonian Museum gear isnt going to happen for very many, but it always amazes me how much money that antique stuff costs. And as mentioned if you have to repair the classics for obvious reasons , like caps, theres all that cost and hassle.

even the hi-end mic locker with new versions of the Smithsonian Mic’s would cost a lot more (though probably not needing repairs very often due to being newer parts).

I guess someone needs to call Brandon for one more large shootout…he’ll have to spend about $200,000 in vintage mics to compare with Slates Virtual version… so we’ll know the truth. lol


#7

So did you ever record anything with this VMS?

It seems the mics alone vs VMS alone a difference is heard more so than in a mastered mix. In the latter theres not so much difference noticed. And that is the selling point “if its not as good as the classic Smithsonian infamous mics, how come no one can choose the difference easily in a mastered mix”…

another marketing point for a lot of new generation stuff is comparing to Apple phones etc…and that each generation does actually get more powerful and so this “simulation” world keeps getting better.

which is kind of what I was asking about in another thread is the original POD shit now that the new HELIX is here 20yrs later? The POD was raved about then and is on some good records but now it sucks because its old? but I get off topic…so it makes sense technology improves and sims might improve, if that’s the case the VMS has potential.

I would think for the Slate VMS to work it would have to start with a top notch grade mic, with stability and intense QC to reduce variations( as the software wont change over time), but the capsule will change over time. Im skeptical but at the same time Slates a good salesman.

Is it like the Line 6 stuff, or Fractal or all that has a setting for everything…like Marshall Stack sim etc… Fender Blues Deville…but its not really the same as the real deal but in a mix no one knows unless we tell them.

I also wonder how does the Slate VMS work with different hardware preamps and hardware compressors?

then I wonder over the years the Chineese made stuff is often a threat to the old world, or lets say offshoring to cheap labor…but then will people have the same reservations about Robots making stuff like Robot Sim Mic systems like the VMS…where the “clones” are made with software computer programs instead of humans.

Sometimes if looking at this stuff like tools, its nice to have a plain old hammer and a flathead screwdriver and some pliers instead of a thing that is like Inspector Gadget Gear…

then again is a Sony C800G worth $9,000 for someone making demo’s in their bedroom?


#8

If you listen to slate talk about the vms outside the ads, the idea is pretty simple. You start with a clean mic and a clean preamp. From there, you can basically model the characteristics of anything. The source (mic and preamp) are controlled, so you can emulate whatever you want after that with pretty good reliability.

The idea isn’t “If you have an expensive mic, you will sound good.” I see it more from the perspective of “Going through a whole bunch of expensive mics to try to find the one that works best is an old, crappy way to do it. With one mic, you can audition a whole bunch of different microphones with a single click instead of wasting time switching them out.”

Like most things, it’s more of a workflow fix that saves tons of wasted time.


#9

Aside from a few mic tests, no. I borrowed the mic, activated the trial version of the software, and then with a couple other guys, recorded everything we could get our hands on over the time span of about four hours. That was enough time for me to conclude that the mic was of fairly decent quality and that the plugins were the real value adder to this package.

Never does he claim that the quality of the sonics are equivalent to actually having a bunch of high end mics.

So for $1000 dollars, it gives someone the chance to experiment with a bunch of different textures and flavors in an affordable workflow efficient system. The preamp plays nicely with the Slate software preamps that can be used to enhance the ‘warmth’ of the preamp. He’s created a little ecosystem that works pretty well with itself sort of like what UAD did.

If you were to buy this setup used for $500-$600, I think you would get a lot more milage out of this setup than you would out of a WARM 1176 clone for the same price.


#10

Does it have a mic level output so the “mic” can go into a regular preamp outboard if wanted?
that would be interesting then it would be more of just a Mic-Sim/Hardware piece 750mv,output
and also include the mic & preamp alogrothms output too.

For a Home Recording setup its not cheap. I didn’t see any used for sale.
Reverb shows Mic at $700, Preamp/DI box $200, VMS software $100?
Whole system at $1000+ship/tax if needed.


#11

I don’t feel this is ultimately a workflow solution (though it is any many ways). I would say the versatility of the entire system at a budget price point is where this setup really makes its mark in the hybrid/emulator marketplace. I wouldn’t call that a high-end mic, but I wouldn’t hesitate to name it the worlds most versatile $400-ish mic a purely pragmatic sense. When I tried it, the mic didn’t give me any reason to believe it wasn’t capable of being used on a high-stakes recording project at the pro level. My take on this is that the package is NOT geared toward pro users, but the quality might be adequate for a professionally competitive recording.

If I was the home studio guy that (in my understanding) Slate designed these for, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the $1000 package over a Neumann TLM103 or an AKG 414 for the same price, because I think the value of the interface+mic+plugins as a functional musical tool far exceeds anything else you could possibly buy for $1000. That’s where I really applaud Slate for flipping the middle finger to gear/plugin manufactures and vintage dealers that sell pretentiously overpriced bullshit. I think he’s doing the gear sales industry a huge favor, though I feel MANY people misunderstand his motives.


#12

I (mostly) like the idea of the VMS… The good side of it is that you can make changes even after recording. The downside is that you can make changes after recording.
The longer I’ve been around this, the more I can really appreciate the days of when everything was on tape. Sometimes limitations can really force you to rely on the music itself to be the best it can be.


#13

I agree, except for the fact that being able to change guitar tones down the road has saved me way more times than it’s messed me up. Removing as many barriers in set up time is a huuuuuge workflow advantage. I can grab a guitar off the wall, plug it in and pull up a guitar rig preset in about 30 seconds.

I’ve learned over time to not fiddle with things endlessly while mixing. I used to want to tweak everything to perfection and spent tons of time dialing in stuff that didn’t matter. That is definitely a flow killer when it comes to mixing, but I think it naturally goes away once you’ve done it a few times and see how much of a waste of time it is.

To me, the vms is the same thing to microphones as amps sims are to guitars. The ability to just plug in and go and worry about the tone stuff later on is a huge time saver, and prevents mood kill. going from zero to tracking in as little time as possible is one of the best things about modern recording.


#14

$1000 price point is not bad, a decent mic and preamp and then all the software emulations.
I guess you just plug it into the LIne In of the interface?

For a customer based recording scene it could be a step up from having 12qty MXL and Behringer mics and a few Art and MAudio preamps…this Slate thing could be faster in flying through different “presets” than changing mics and preamp cables if time is a big deal.

For a solo demo recording scene of noise and play for ideas and doodling in ones home a single mic and single hardware could be fine, or even a UA Apollo Twin type box with realtime plugins.

Slate seems to be offering the Mic Locker in a virtual emulation package which is pretty cool really when comparing a closet bedroom hobbyist thinking of buying numerous mics, and the Slate selection obviously is affordable as compared to a $10,000 Sony C800 and Nuemans and Telefunks and AKG’s… he should have added a auto-tune button and the TC Helicon stuff of Harmonys….maybe Version 2?