This has got to be one of my all-time favorite piece of analog gear. I have the Empirical Labs version. Lets try out the Slate!!
Here’s Empirical Labs own version. But its VERY expensive ($350 for a perpetual license).
And here’s an A/B against the hardware.
So…finally have a project up on the desk. First impressions:
What I really like about the hardware unit and the Empirical Labs distressor plugin is the different color flavors you can achieve simply by turning the attack and release knobs. Its sort of like a guitar amp with interactive EQ on in the preamp section. Granted all compressors with attack and release vary in tone and color when these settings are changed. But the distressor has some really interesting combinations, particularly noticeable to me on aggressive vocals, snare drums, and real acoustic pianos. If I’m correct, this is partly because of minor differences in knee and slew rate and the input signal hitting at different levels.
I didn’t expect the dials to work the same as the Emp Labs model. Because the Emp Labs software model doesn’t function anything like the hardware model. Basically a 4:1 ratio on the EL software, is closer to a 6:1 on the hardware (at least to my ears). So its ok that the Slate doesn’t mimic the knob settings of either. That’s ok.
I like the additional control on the Emp Labs software distressor. However, the Emp Labs software is VERY VERY power hungry. The Slate distressor is ridiculously efficient.
My biggest gripe about the Slate 1176 Rev A, and Rev D, clone is that the attack and release knobs are damn near useless. The FG-401 (The red thing) doesn’t seem to have those problems though. I think the attack and release on the Slate Distressor are very useable, but I’m not quite as thrilled with the saturation Dist B, and Dist C saturation simulators on the Slate. The Emp Labs software version is variable, and I’ve gotten used to it. The hardware unit is more subtle, but to me sound much sweeter and richer than either. Its warm, smooth, and dimensional (even as useless as those adjectives really are).
So I’m about 3/4 through a mix. I took the Slate distressor, placed it on 40 channels, and did my best to make it work. My verdict for now is this Slate distressor gets a passing grade. The fact I was even able to use 40 instances in the same mix and come out with a usable result, is pretty solid proof (to me) that it doesn’t totally suck. I have to disclaimer the reason this is acceptable is only because of how extremely versatile the distressor is by nature. I could not have done this with 40 identical stock logic compressors.
I’m slowly revisiting and re-discovering some of these Slate plugs and what they really do well, after having written off every one of them for quite some time.
Between the Emp Labs and the Slate, I think this is going to come down to what you can afford. I have to admit I still prefer the EL labs plugin, but I’m going to leave the Slate compressors on my mix and send it. (Its a live church service that’s headed for a local cable broadcasting station).
Cool, I’ll have try this out.
Gearslutz loves folks who love gear.
Guilty as charged. I love that little distressor…as much as any other hardware or software plug out there. Its my deserted island compressor.
I’m hoping to download that and try this coming weekend. I’ve been wanting a distressor for a looong time.
I tried this out the other night. I can confirm: It does indeed compress.
lol. But does it add much in terms of ‘character’?
Do you mean: “Does it distort?” - the answer is yes. Beyond that, it’s a little like wine tasting to me. I know a good wine when I taste it, but all the rapturous descriptive stuff seems like nonsense to me. I probably sound a little cynical, but since I’ve never played with the real thing, I’m none the wiser as to how good it is in a comparative sense.
It’s being marketed as a “swiss army” compressor, so I’m guess the trick is for it to run the gamut from completely “transparent” right through to “full of character (ie. distorted)” depending on how you set it. In my brief time with it, it seemed to perform as advertised.
Well, after using this plugin for a while now, I’ve decided I REALLY like it… mainly for it’s ability to compress transparently at high amounts of gain reduction… Brilliant on vocals!.. I must explore it more…
I know. Its addictive! Isn’t it
I haven’t invested yet. I hate Slate so much as a salesmen I don’t want to buy any of his plugins. He seems like an okay guy when he’s candid though. That rent our stuff thing is despicable. “Here I’m going to make you jump through hoops to actually buy and download plugins now so that you have to rent them and keep paying me money for the rest of your career, and even if you pay more than each plug in is worth combined you still won’t own any of them.”
I will say this, he puts a tremendous amount of effort into what he does. Everything he makes takes years longer than expected. The temptation to buy this is strong…
I don’t hate Slate, I just hate corporate coercion because I feel like they’re taking advantage of people and they think no one has figured them out. Maybe I’m just cynical. I like RC-Tube, and I love VTM, even if I don’t use it much.
Does fabrice still do all the algorithms for slate or have they parted?
I love the labs arouser, not tried the slate one.I have most of the slate stuff but hardly ever use it funny enough I just find it all very hyped and over rated myself.
Would be curious to know that too.
Yes he does and yes he did the algo. For the above