Slate VCC 2.0 Review – Good Just Got Better

By | July 16, 2015

In the era of digital perfection, the music we make tends to lack so-called “vibe” or “analog warmth” that is very much sought after by every music producer and mixer in this modern day. Slate Digital brings exactly these features into the DAW of every music maker in the form of iconic sounds of six legendary mixing consoles. This is the Slate VCC 2.0 review.

VCC 2.0 with the Virtual Mixbuss and Virtual Channel

VCC 2.0 with the Virtual Mixbuss and Virtual Channel

What’s new?

  • Integrated into Virtual Mix Rack
  • A brand new console: Brit 4K E
  • Minor refinements for all algorithms
  • US-A console has a new, improved bottom end
  • Improved RC-Tube algorithm
  • Noise Reduction button
  • Grouping made easy
  • Simplified user interface

The Consoles

Brit 4K E (SSL 4000 ‘E’ –series)

VCC 2.0 includes 6 consoles to choose from

VCC 2.0 includes 6 consoles to choose from

My favorite of the bunch is the Brit 4K E –console. It’s very upfront, energetic and has tons of presence. Great for any kind of music.

Brit 4K G (SSL 4000 ‘E’ –series with G-series upgrades)

The Brit 4K G has a very wide soundstage while having a certain grit that gives it tons of attitude. The 4K is an ideal match if you need some aggression in your mixes.

US A (API)

The US A is shouting “midrange!” This console has a very tight midrange full of excitement. The low end is also very punchy. The US A is a great choice for any midrange-heavy music, such as pop and rock.

Brit N (Neve)

Did someone say bass? Brit N has a huge bottom end that is extremely usable on low-end instruments. It is also a very vibey and sizzling console, though not as snappy and punchy as the SSL or API. Brit N is ideal for fattening up kick drums and bass.

Symbol (Trident)

The Trident is a special console, having a bright and wide top end, with a punchy low end. The midrange is slightly “scooped” compared to the lows and highs, which makes for the classic “smiley-face” EQ-curve. The Trident can work wonders on any kind of music.

RC-Tube (50’s Broadcast Tube)

The RC-Tube is probably the most colored of them all, especially heard when driven hard. The distortions and midrange crunch will leave no one in doubt. This is my favorite for vocal processing, before any compression is applied to give the vocal a tone.

Features

VCC 2.0 includes two versions of the same plugin: the Virtual Mixbuss and Virtual Channel. Ideally, the Mixbuss is designed to be used on the master bus, and the Channel on individual tracks and groups.

Some of the features include:

  • VU level calibration screw, right below the VU meter, to set the reference level

    VU level calibration screw (red arrow)

    VU level calibration screw (red arrow)

  • Input and output trim knobs which can be linked to compensate for the gain changes
  • Console selection knob
  • Console Drive –knob which doesn’t affect the output level but adds some character
  • Grouping function, letting you assign certain instruments to their own VCC groups
  • Noise reduction button – you can disable the modeled console noise
  • Group bypass button, bypassing the processing of the selected group

Visuals

The visuals of VCC 2.0 are very cool and modern-looking, compared to the earlier version. “Look the part, be the part” is a phrase that certainly applies to VCC 2.0, giving the impression that this plugin can introduce some analog vibe into your recordings.

Overall, the visuals are easy to look at and navigate. It’s a breeze to use the plugin.

Before and after - VCC 2.0 on the left, VCC 1.0 on the right

Before and after – VCC 2.0 on the left, VCC 1.0 on the right

Engineers and Musicians United

One of the most amazing things about VCC 2.0 engineers and musicians alike will appreciate, is the beautiful distortion it creates when sound is driven hard into the console using the input gain.

Kick drums and snares, for example, will profit from the added punch and pop when overdriven a little bit.

Another creative advantage of VCC 2.0 is the fact that instances can now be stacked easily inside the Virtual Mix Rack, and you don’t need to waste any insert slots of the DAW’s mixer to achieve the same effect. It’s more intuitive this way.

The flexibility offered by creating custom console chains right inside Virtual Mix Rack enables the user to first drive a signal into an SSL, and then finishing off by injecting a hint of smoothness from a Neve. Since the Virtual Mix Rack isn’t limited to VCC only, you could stack any module in your chains, such as (the free!) Revival and Trimmer plugins.

If you decide to purchase some of Slate’s compressors and EQs, you could have a full-on mixing solution right inside the Mix Rack.

Stacking modules is easy inside the Virtual Mix Rack

Stacking modules is easy inside the Virtual Mix Rack

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of console sound and appreciate the added depth, energy and “life” they provide in your music, then Slate VCC 2.0 is something to consider. It’s very hard to NOT use it after getting accustomed to it in music production and mixing.

Slate VCC 2.0 is a very special and luxurious plug-in, that certainly isn’t a necessity to make music – but if you want the extra 10% in your mixes, I don’t see why you shouldn’t at least try it out.

 

Have you used any analog-modeling plugins such as the VCC 2.0? Leave your comments below and let’s discuss analog modeling!

-JP

3 thoughts on “Slate VCC 2.0 Review – Good Just Got Better

  1. Sasha

    I’ve been trying the demos out in my projects. Interesting, sometimes an improvement, sometimes a detriment, but I have not yet tried using this the proper way: mixing a project with VCC in it from the start.

    My question to those who have experience with this or other console emulation software (Waves NLS, Satson, etc): Is this really doing something unique, that could not be accomplished with a combination of other plugins (EQ, compression, saturation)?

    Reply
    1. JP Post author

      As with any plugin (any eq, compressor, tape saturator), VCC has a sound to it. Naturally, you won’t be able to accomplish exactly the same result with other plugins, and vice versa.

      Myself, I don’t really use the *insert VCC on all tracks* -method, because I have noticed that it doesn’t necessarily make every sound better. In a “bad” situation, VCC could even result in a muddier mix. However, VCC is an amazing plugin when you learn how to use it. More importantly – how YOU LIKE to use it.

      For my purposes, I find VCC best used as a sound design tool, such as overdriving a signal well to the reds, stacking multiple instances, etc. Very often I just reach for the Neve model instead of any EQ boosts in the low end, or the Trident for nice and smooth highs. It’s a workflow thing really, and it’s fun to try to accomplish certain characteristics with VCC (compression, distortion, bring out the details… You could totally create a whole vocal sound by stacking multiple VCC’s!)

      In the end, I think truly learning to appreciate VCC takes time. To some people it does nothing, and to some it is exactly that *thing* they crave in their music. It took me ages to learn how to use VCC, but now I love using it, because I know exactly what I’m going to get out of it.

      My tip to you: use and ABUSE it, but don’t force it if not needed 😉

      Reply
      1. Sasha

        Belated thank you for the reply.
        I did like the sound of VCC in my tests, but demo expired before I could try matching (in overall effect, if not exact result) with my existing plug-ins. I wanted to see if eq, compression, perhaps saturation and/or distortion could achieve the same overall effect.

        By the “overall effect”, in my case at least, I mean the general sense of “glue”, and spaciousness/dimensionality.

        I would try it again or request a second demo, but I am not interested in the product now that it requires the Virtual Mix Rack. I hope Slate will offer single plug-in versions again that can operate without VMR. The VMR takes up too much screen real estate when open, and does not show the name of the actual plugin used within the DAW’s channel strip. I hope Slate will make ALL their plugins again available as single instance modules.

        Reply

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