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).