Gear reviews

Steven Slate Digital: VCC (virtual console)

Generally speaking

Steven Slate is the producer of these plugins. Fabrice Gabriel (Eiosis) is the brain beind these stuff. As we all know, he released the fantastic AirEq when working for/as Eiosis.

Steven Slate sold us this plugin one year ago and then they had some serious problems during development (or at least, that’s what I get after the long delay).

The currently available version is only in beta (beta 2).

This plugin should emulate (or emulates) 4 consoles (API, RND, Valve and a discrete console). You get a channel plugin and a group plugin (where you can hook up all the groups together and activate them all at the same time).

Problems and technicalities

I use the plugin in connection with my samplitude 11 pro as a VST32bit version. The first thing which occured was a malfunction of the C++ Windows 2008 libarary. The plugin need that bridge to work properly. I had to reinstall the libarary manually twice and now I got it working.

The group channels of the VCC do not work. No change in sound is happening when turning the input gain and saturation knob. The grouping does not work as well. Well, that’s why I only turned the channel knobs.

Sound

Well, what do you expect from such a plugin? My expactation was, that I can drive the input of the channel (use the plugin as the first one in the plugin chain) like on an analog console. My analog-console background is limited to a Yamaha PM-1000, Neve VIII and a Studer 903, where I used to track and mix in the past. I do have an idea what “drive a console” means but I am NOT Chris Lord Alges who uses a particular console every day. That means, if th emulation says “SSL 4k” I do not know how “tiny” the difference is between the plugin and the real thing but I can tell you fellas if it sounds good or not.

When I mix ITB (inside my DAW without any hardware) the main issue is to get things to the front/in your face, making them sound more like an instrument then a digital fart. Get the tracks to together so it sounds like a record in the end. Without going into too much details about how I mix (because this one is a plugin review not a mix-it-like-a-record teaching) the main purpose of the plugins I use it compression/limiting/saturation.

I use a limiter on every track or bus. I do use not as much compression and if I use it , it’s more 1176 (limiting amplifier), so hard compression, hardknee, input level high (the signal doesn’t make too much use of the release function). I drive stuff hard. I mix with a limiter on the masterbus and I saturate to make the tracks jump in your face.

When I used this plugin I bypassed all of my other ones, started from a frech empty probject (where I always have the same amount of channels, and the plugins already inserted into the signal-path that’s why I had to bypass them) and imported the soundfiles.

I then choose SSL4k (I remember having a littlebit of gritt coming out of this console), putthe drive channel to +3 and the saturation to 1/4 gain. I used the normal channel eq to compensate for too much sizling/lowcut stuff and then put transparent compressors after the VCC plugin (mostly using a sonalksis 315). I used only 2 FX tracks (reverb 1, reverb 2) and and put a VCC plugin on those channels as well.

All the single tracks were comped to subgroups (drums, bass, guitars, vocals) and on the master I only had the limiter going (no VCC).

It took me pretty long to enjoy the sound of the VCC plugin to be honest. The difference is not any more subtile when having it on every channel. I had to adjust my mixing style and it was a bit confusing first when I dialed in the plugin, because then you have one option more: drive the input with the plugin and lower the channel level with the fader or the other way around.

To comeback to the plugin sound: what it does it, it saturates the signal on the particular channel, adds harmonics and does some sort of limiting (due to the saturation). The result is much more pleasing then what I’ve heard before (from other manufacturers, like PSP/Virsyn and stuff like that) but you have to change your style of mixing.

I was able to adchieve more loudness on this bass heavy rockmix but at the same time it compensates in the lowend. It doesn’t go that deep down as without the plugin and adds something to the midrange which is quite nice.

To answer the original question about expectations:
I was able to drive the input but the sound didn’t get “instant-fat” like on my Studer. I had to invest quite a lot of work, but then you got this glue thing going on. Thumps up.

Conclusion

My conclusion is not fixed yet. I am still trying stuff and I might update this review soon. I am a big fan of trigger (Steven Slates drum replacement plugin). That thing really changed stuff (coming myself from using drumagog 4).

If you can adjust yourself to this kind of workflow it might help you. I am pretty much set to my old workflow where I do the same thing as the plugin (while the Fabrice Gabriel says, his model does it dynamicaly). My workflow was interrupted so the main problem for me is, I have to rethink the whole gainstaging process and my mix time will be higher to start with.

Also the bugs like a non working group channel is not cool for a complete review.

I think when I can touch the finished thing, I can get to a definitive conclusion.

standby…

2 Responses to “Steven Slate Digital: VCC (virtual console)”

  1. Andreas van Engelen says:

    Thanks George for clearing the path. I’ll have another go and look forward to what it does on the mid-range….

  2. kristof says:

    For me it realy GLUES the sounds together in my daw system.
    It makes the sound fuller and rounder in low en high frequencys,not extreem but subtile…For me is this plug a winner,it sounds rounder in the box and no other plug has this function until now :)

    Kristf h

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