Gear Review: The Steven Slate Virtual Console Collection (VCC) Plugin
The Virtual Console Collection (VCC) from Slate Digital Brings Analog Goodness to Digital Productions
The Virtual Console Collection from Slate Digital is a groundbreaking plugin which emulates the non-linearities and harmonic content of analog consoles and brings their sound into digital audio workstations. Why would anyone want this you ask? Completely digital recordings are in a sense, perfect, however they lack something that humans find pleasing to listen to - harmonic distortion. Subtle harmonic distortion adds another quality to the audio which adds warmth and depth to the music.
The VCC plugin has revolutionized the possibilites of in-the-box mixing by brining the sound of five legendary analog recording consoles to your computer.
Take a look at the VCC interface
The plugin is actually two plugins in one bundle:
A. Buss plugin (emulates analog summing and the console master buss)
B. Individual channel plugins
The plugin also features the unique ability to group plugin settings to quickly change the sound of the console on many different channels.
To use the plugin:
1. Insert a channel plugin on every channel of your DAW.
2. Insert the buss plugin on your master buss and any subgroups if desired.
3. Create your groups as you wish - mixing and matching console sounds or use a uniform sound for more traditional emulation.
4. Control the input signal level or use the drive control to drive the input signal harder while simultaneously bringing down the output gain.
It should be emphasized that the effects of this plugin are subtle. You may not hear a huge difference after inserting the plugin on one channel. The plugin excels by improving your mixes AS you mix into the plugin. The effect is cumulative, and by the end of your mix, you may notice your mixes sounding warmer, more exciting, and more 3-D than before.
To get the most out of the plugin, I recommend doing these things:
-Mix into the plugin (insert the plugins before starting your mix), rather than add the plugins after the fact.
-Experiment with different console choices on different sources at different drive levels to really get to learn where each console excels.
-Research which consoles some of your favorite recordings were made on and use this as a guide.
-Bypass the plugins every once and a while to hear the difference the plugin makes.
Virtual Console Collection Emulations
VCC Label | Analog Counterpart
Brit 4k | SSL
Brit N | Neve
US A Discrete | API
RC-Tube | RCA
Symbol | Trident
The Making of VCC
A Video Review of the Slate VCC
My Personal Feelings
The Slate VCC has really had a great impact on the quality of my mixes. I use it in conjunction with Airwindows "Console" and if more analog flavor is needed, with a master tape emulation. Each console has its place and I've learned which sounds I like on which instruments in certain styles of music. Sometimes the names might be deceiving, so it is best to use your ears.
I recommend getting a console emulation plugin like this after you've got good quality work horse tools such as a great compressor, eq, reverb, limiter etc...Once you've brought your mixing skills up to a solid level, you can implement the VCC to add a new dimension to your mixes with subtle analog flavor.