Slate Audio VSX System - Review/Results

Since its release a month or so ago, I had eyed the hype and hyperbole surrounding the marketing campaign for Slate Audio’s VSX Headphone/Room Emulation hardware/software combination with a great deal of skepticism.

My previous experiences with this type of thing have been pretty unsatisfactory, and in any case I didn’t have the money to spend on it (it is pretty expensive!). However, I recently have had the opportunity to spend some money that I didn’t expect to have, so I bit the bullet and decided to see if it lived up to the hype.

Here is the very first mix I did completely on VSX and nothing else. I didn’t check and make changes on any other systems. In fact, I didn’t check it on any other systems until the mix was done (or, at least, done to the point where it sounded like a mix - there is a LOT more detailed work I could do here, but that is not the point of this exercise).

What do you think? Does it work?

sounds pretty good here on my end. no issues on speakers

1 Like

Sounds good to me but I’d like to compare it to a mix of this song in which you don’t use SVX

1 Like

Sounds good to me.

1 Like

Hi Andrew,
For what ist’s worth: it would be pretty good mix if it was mine, but I’m used to a higher standard from you :wink:
Question is: is that because it’s just a quick mix that still needs a lot of work, or does it have anything to do with your SVX toys :open_mouth:
I can’t really tell. What I can hear is that the main vox are very much up front. It fits the genre, but this is is bit too much maybe in comparison with the other vocals. Mind you: I’m listening on laptop speakers, and I just got a new laptop…
Until sometime last year I recorded through a focusrite Sapphire pro 24 DSP which has VRM software on the DSP chip. That gives you several emulations of well known studio speakers in a slightly more realistic soundfield. I won’t say it made a huge difference, but it did sound somewhat better, a bit more 3-D. I would’nt pay a lot of money for it though. I generaly only use headphones to check my mixes, I rarely do any real mixing on them.
Let us know what it sounds like to you when you’re mixing.

Try realphones , fantastic

1 Like

Hi Evert, new laptops are generally notorious for adding their own “audio enhancements” (specially vocal dialog related, because they are designed for binge watching old netflix shows :sweat_smile:) I would make sure to check no enhancements are turned on by default. They can skew the listening experience in a big way.

I am not hearing an abnormal imbalance on my end with the lead vocals per say, but as @Wicked mentions its hard to tell if the mix was done on a non VSX platform vs VSX platform. Maybe its a good thing.

1 Like

Thats always a good thing :rofl:

I am deciding between Slate VSX vs the Audeze
There are some engineers that swear by Audeze , though it is almost 3times the price point of VSX

Depending on how generous the gift cards are over Christmas and how generous the royalties I am going to make the call on one of these in the new year.

Thanks for the tip Michelle! I checked the settings and you’re right: it’s set for vocal dialog (should have known, it’s a work computer). Changing the setting to music did maker the main vox sit better in the mix. But to my ears I still think they are just a tad too loud. Just wondering if Andrew would mix it the same way on speakers.

1 Like

That’s the first I’ve heard of dSoniQ.

What is your mixing setup Alan? How do you use dSoniQ?

1 Like

I use realphones wih Akg 701 basically.Realphones i find far better than any others hands down

Thanks! I certainly like the price on that one! Which other software packages have you tried for comparison? I’m curious because Andrew tried Sonarworks and it didn’t “click” for him. I demoed Sonarworks before and felt the same.

How would/could you tell if it was done on the VSX platform? VSX is simply a monitoring tool, right? Andrew is a good mixer and no doubt he would produce good mixes on any system once he learned what it sounds like…

Audez is another monitoring software package I was unaware of! Although, the price puts it out of consideration for me.

I like the idea of Sonarworks and Alan’s dSoniq since they work with your headphones. I’d think you could just EQ Match the profile from either software and use it in something else if you wanted to…

Then there’s also dearVR Monitor over on Plugin-Alliance. It doesn’t look like they consider your headphones at all…

Oops! Sorry Andrew, I didn’t mean to side-track your thread… :astonished:

Realphones are on sale at the moment for £49. I cant recommend highly enough. For me they blow the competition out the water when you get used to them.It also has calibrations for loads of phones so you wont need sonarworx as well its all built in to the plugin

1 Like

Its not just the eq curve its the crosstalk too and you cant snap shot that with an eq

1 Like

That’s good to hear - I picked up a bit too much sibilance on the vocals on my “grotbox” speakers at work. That said, I paid minimal attention to the vocal and the top end of the mix. I just got the vocal to “minimum requirement/placeholder” stage. I didn’t even put a de-esser on any of the tracks. I was more concerned with the overall shape of the mix, rather than the details.

I’m sure my other mixes would be “better” (see my comments above)…, but keep in mind, I’ve been mixing on the same system those mixes were done on for 11 years, and this mix is a very quick mix done on a system I had literally taken delivery of less than 24 hours previously.

Great, thanks Eric!

See my comments above… I think that explains any questions you have here

Yeah, that’s comparing apples with pears, somewhat… VRM is not designed specifically for any particular headphone, whereas the Slate system is a combination of hardware and software. The headphones you buy with it are critical to the success of the whole system. The headphones have been engineered specifically to work with the software and vice versa.

It sounds great. Here’s the deal…

For me, VSX was not a necessity at present - I bought them more as an “insurance policy” for the future, should I ever be restricted from working on my current system. As I said above, I’ve been mixing on my current setup since 2009, I know it extremely well, and I am able to achieve very good mixes that myself and my clients are happy with.

What I hoped VSX would be was an alternative, enjoyable way to mix and achieve comparable results. I have tried Sonarworks on my HD650 cans, and although I could get decent mixes, I did not enjoy the experience. With VSX, after a while, I almost forgot I was mixing on cans. That was a big plus for me.

One other aspect is that I want a viable alternative that allows me to mix silently. I don’t have the luxury of a dedicated, sound-separated space, so when I mix on my monitors, my wife has to put up with it. She is very accommodating, but like anyone, she has her limits. I see VSX as a way to help preserve her sanity without compromising my mixes.

I also see the ability to be completely mobile, yet turn out mixes of a very high quality. As I live in rented accommodation, the prospect of setting up and acoustically treating a room each time I move is exhausting, and expensive both in terms of time and money. Taking those factors into account, the initial, once-only high cost of VSX seems like a good investment compared to those recurring costs.

A little further information: I have a subwoofer in my studio setup. I have become very reliant on it to gauge low end accurately. One of my main concerns was how I would go mixing on VSX without the physical sensation of the subwoofer. Nevertheless, I followed the preparation process suggested by Slate Audio and just mixed the track strictly according to what I heard through the cans. The very first time I played the resulting mix back through my studio system, I started grinning like an idiot! I couldn’t believe how good the low end sounded. It was tight, with balanced low mids. Playing it back in my car just made my smile wider. The low end was big, tight and controlled. No second-guessing.

I hope that answers your questions.

I don’t doubt it, but again: It’s comparing apples with pears. I don’t doubt it is a great system, and no doubt it works for you. But the advantage I see (and hear) with the Slate system is that it is a combination of hardware and software, purpose built. The design element of the hardware is integral to the success of the system.

I would say, try the Slate system first. They have a 30 day money-back guarantee. You can always send them back if you don’t like them.

Rob over at AMC couldn’t stand them and sent them straight back. Rob also happens to have a dedicated studio built out with 4ft thick floor to ceiling bass traps and serious big-boy studio money invested in acoustic treatment, so he really has no practical use for them either!

My guess is that if I had mixed it with the same haste and lack of attention to detail on my studio setup, it would sound worse. There is, of course, no practical way to know that for sure. But when it comes to my capabilities and my system, I know what I know.

Because I said so in the OP. :grinning: This is the first and only mix I have done so far on VSX.

Well, I’m glad you have so much confidence in my mix abilities, Mike - I certainly don’t share your confidence! :worried: … but I do have a fair measure of confidence nonetheless.

Actually, we’ve hit on something that is absolutely central to this discussion in a more universal way than just whether or not a specific tool is good, or lives up to the hype…
CONFIDENCE… it is THE most important thing required for a good mix:

  • confidence in your decisions, your taste, your abilities and your monitoring…

Without wanting to sound conceited (even though it probably will), even right from when I started out mixing seriously in 2006, I have to be completely honest and say that I have always had confidence in my ability to be decisive, my aesthetic taste, and my abilities. Monitoring was the huge blind spot where my confidence crumbled…
Then, in 2009, when I got my Yamaha HS50s and HS10 sub and moved it into a room that was several orders of magnitude better than where I had been. From the very first mix I did, when I heard the ease with which it translated to other systems, I suddenly had confidence.

As I said above, I’ve tried various other things with headphones in the meantime, but now, after trying VSX, the confidence I feel is the same elated feeling I had with my new system and room 11 years ago, except with headphones - something I never imagined would be possible.

1 Like

its looks no different to realphones you just get some crappy Chinese headphones thrown in by the looks .£400 odd pounds ?Not convinced this would be any better than realphones with decent cans .

Makes perfect sense… I’ve always found how something looks to a very high priority when judging how it sounds too. :slightly_smiling_face:

Look Alan, if you’re happy with what you have, then I’m happy for you… I’m just reporting my findings. Not asking you or anyone else to drink the kool-aid. Just sharing my experience.

My point was that from our perspective (the listeners) it’s either a good mix or not, regardless of how you did it. As you said, we know because you told us. That’s all.

What would be SUPER interesting is if you were to compare mixing with the VSX system and then mixing on your favorite headphones using the dSoniq software. Or if you just started using VSX without telling us and we noticed your mixes were getting better!

This is why I’m very interested in VSX and similar products. I feel like I’ve hit the proverbial wall and it will be a hugely expensive and enormous task to make my current environment into a comfortable and workable space. If something like VSX can produce good results in the meantime, I’m very excited to learn about it.

That’s great that VSX is working for you, and from other discussions and reading up on it, you’re not alone. :slight_smile:

But it also doesn’t mean that dSoniq isn’t an equally viable product that can work with your preferred headphones. Allan kicks out killer mixes pretty consistently himself. So his setup seems to work pretty well for him too. It would also be interesting for Alan to try out VSX and hear his thoughts on it. :wink:

Ultimately though, the best system is the one that works best for you. So all of this talk does nothing for me in the end, until I actually try something out myself. But please know that I appreciate you bringing it up and the resulting discussions…

1 Like

Sounds pretty good here.These things take some getting used to

1 Like

Thanks Alan, yeah I think I’m still a bit timid with them - It will take a few more mixes before I get there measure completely.