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Virtual Console Collection (VCC)

Console Emulation Plugin by Slate Digital

Virtual Console Collection (VCC) has an average user rating of 3.00 from 1 review

Rate & Review Virtual Console Collection (VCC)

User Reviews by KVR Members for Virtual Console Collection (VCC)

Virtual Console Collection (VCC)

Reviewed By Aiynzahev [all]
May 14th, 2013
Version reviewed: 1.5.2 on Windows

Edit: a couple weeks later and I am going to give my review this title: Slate VCC. I want to believe.

Before we get to my original review, I have to add that I've done a little more testing with the SSL model and I do think there is a something there that improves my mixes. A small something though. And I feel 6 is a bit too low, as most "average" plug-ins would be about 5, and I would consider many of them a bit useless. So it's a 7 now.

Slate VCC is a divisive plug-in! The concept itself brought into question by many. I will try to avoid making too many strong statements myself as I am not even 100% sure how important of a place it holds in my set up.

Just in case you didn't know Slate VCC is an emulation of 4 famous consoles plus a certain tube console.

The desks modeled were SSL, API, Trident & Neve. You are meant to load up a console plug-in on each track and gradually simulate running your mix through one of these desks. This is achieved by modelling their saturation, distortion, frequency response and cross-talk.

So much for the theory. In practice?

If you slap VCC on near the end of your mixing process you may or may not prefer the result. If however you begin your mix and mix into these plug-ins I think you will be reluctant to remove them after a few A/B with the un-processed. Since each channel can be grouped you can switch them all in and out to hear their total effect.

What does it sound like? Well to me I think I hear the saturation with some models, but I think the biggest difference is the frequency response. It's like a preset EQ. There are graphs on Rhythminmind and on Sound & Sound. that show these responses.

If you look at them you will be able to see what I mean. Now to me frequency boosts must make your content louder or at least appear louder. It can also make it appear clearer.

The Trident channel is said to be a nice open & wide sound, while the Neve is beefy with deep bass. Looking at the graphs you can easily see why that is the case. The Neve has about a 2dB bump below 100hz. The Trident has a high end boost. The API is a like a softer version of the Trident and the SSL is almost neutral. And the SSL by the way is one of peoples favourites from what I read around. It could be because it does not EQ very much but still gives saturation. As Fabrice coded these plug-ins I expect the EQ is of the same quality as his respected AirEq. A good digital EQ with nice curves is basically a nice enhancement.

When you push the consoles a bit (which I usually don't) you get an effect similar to compression. When used gently you end up with well, something different from your original but hard to say exactly what.

One thing to consider is this, when you use saturation or distortion you are also bringing in aliasing also if I am not mistaken. Much like distortion is actually degrading the signal but it can sound more pleasing.

Could I live without it? Well here is the problem for me and perhaps others. I do frequently mix without it. If you have good source sounds and good mixing technique you will end up with a good sounding mix. So if you are getting good mixes already why buy VCC?

Well for some they find they get to where they are trying to go quicker. I can see that as VCC gives you a certain amount of compression and EQ that can really help gel things together. The saturation can excite the sound a little and make it feel weightier. I found that it offers me ways of quickly finding solutions. Are the drums a little weak? Slam the drum group a little. Is the bass too soft? Switch the bass group to Neve. Do the synths need to stick out some more and be sharper? Switch the group to Trident. And so on.

Is this the only way such a sound can be achieved? Maybe this exact sound yes, but a similar sound could likely be achieved by other means. The question is are other saturation plug-ins out there quite as good for as good a price as VCC sometimes goes for? Also do they offer the same workflow enhancements?

In the end I am a little uncertain one way or the other. I have heard Slate VCC take a weak mix and make it punchy and respectable. But part of me refuses to believe that is the best way to solve the problem. Surely a weak mix that lacks excitement can be fixed with some good compression technique and more careful EQ.

Then again when we think about how mixes have always been done, engineers have always had higher levels of distortion in their processing chains than what you will get in your DAW with neutral digital processing.

People crave compressors and EQ that "model the distortion of the hardware" and so on. I personally have never used a dedicated distortion plug-in that I felt was good and subtle enough to be used on near every channel. Possibly Soundtoys Decapitator. But I do find a good few plug-in compressors and even EQ's have some sort of distortion modelling and generally sound as good or better than VCC. So I decided to do a simple test.

I too some track stems and ran them through different processors. IK 76 with compression dis-engaged, IK 670 & API 2500 + an API EQ, NI Varicomp and also the VCC on it's most neutral mode the SSL.

I then did some listening to the original vs these other versions. The most obvious versions were the NI Vari-comp and the Waves API. The Varicomp version was distorted (obviously as it's a tube emulation and I really drove the input hard) and the waves API version was more pleasant than the original though maybe a bit too bright. Not a good mix with harsh digital sources. So I did another test running the API at 96kHz and the result was much smoother. Another reminder of the importance of over sampling.

As for the VCC I really could hardly hear a thing. I do think VCC does what it says on the tin when it comes to giving you the sound of these consoles. What I don't think though is that having the sound of these consoles gives you something you can't get through other means. I believe the difference mainly comes down to what a simple but good EQ can replicate and if you want a bit of saturation and you already have some good plug-ins that can do that for you you are most of the way there. And as far as distortion goes I got more interesting results from some of my other plug-ins.

What VCC does give you in a nutshell is a simple solution to enhance both your workflow and your sound.

My conclusion:

Too much hype surrounds this plug-in. However strip away the hype are you are still left with a decent digital tool to help with your mixing. I want to knock points for for Slate Digital's contribution to the hype, but in the end I can't blame them. They said they are giving us the sound of these consoles and I believe they are, as much as digital can do so. They said you can mix and get faster results and you can. I think perhaps the problem was people in the home studio ascribed too much "magic" to consoles in the first place.

Again, I think Slate delivered. Not knowing any better myself. However the usefulness ratio vs the full price of this plug-in makes it for me an above average but certainly non-essential buy.

EDIT : I'm going to have to eat my words a little. Even on the SSL setting this plug-in IS doing something, To me it sounds a little bit like a good compressor, it sort of makes more room in the track for the louder and more dominant parts.

I think it comes down to material, on some material it's going to make a bigger difference than others.

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Comments & Discussion for Slate Digital Virtual Console Collection (VCC)

Discussion: Active
14 May 2013 at 5:35pm

Wow, thanks for the very thorough review Aiynzahev, much appreciated.

14 May 2013 at 5:44pm

Your welcome :).

14 May 2013 at 8:34pm

A very nice review .

Just want to add some things that alone would not justify a separate review.

At first VCC was so subtle that i could not understand all the hype about it. It takes some time to appreciate the models.

E.g. Trident rounds of the transients a bit. The documentation really could be more verbose on this.

Many people still hit their tracks at 0 dbfs in their DAWs despite running at 24-bit resolution, so VCC gives them different clipping sound.

Then there is an advantage of VCC that i don't read too often about: The Volume resolution goes from -6db to +6db in steps of 0.1 over a midisignal that has 128 steps. This means you can fine tune the volume automation in which each midistep corresponds to 0.1db. Not many DAWs allow to automate the trackvolume in that fine resolution. So all in all VCC is a nice mixing tool that i'd give 9 out of 10 because of the lack of a verbose documentation of the models.

14 May 2013 at 11:29pm

It is a great mixing tool. I tried to emphasize that in my review but failed I think. I didn't mean to come across to hard on it.

17 May 2013 at 1:52am

Hi Sami.

Did you ever get a chance to compare it to the Waves NLS? I was just wondering which one you preferred. I think you need an iLok to demo VCC right? I only have the v1 iLok. :( Thanks.


17 May 2013 at 10:39pm

No I've never done that. I just did another trial today however with the SSL console on huge mix, 50 instances of Reaktor + Drums and so on.

Could I hear a difference after mixdown? With casual listening between with and without, Nope. More than likely I would notice with other consoles, but then its the EQ curve I think that would make the difference.

17 May 2013 at 10:18pm

Thanks for the review! I guess I have to buy iLok to demo VCC myself. The hype is strong... :D.

17 May 2013 at 10:39pm

Yes the hype is strong! I have to remind myself of that, as nice as it is in actual use it just doesn't do that much in the grand scheme of things.

25 May 2013 at 1:27am

Updated this. Now a 7 because it does do something nice even on the near flat SSL model.

26 May 2013 at 6:21pm

I use a SSL aws 900 every day and a neve 75 almost every day i noticed two things NEVE is low end heavy its hard to get things to sound thin with a neve. a ssl is clean but when you hit it hard i notice this slight coloration that seems to sound like its hitting harder more in your face when you hit the ssl emulation at +3VU on its meeter is when you can really hear its tone. I agree with you about how its a subtle sound that is not "NEEDED" but when you need to help something gel together easy i love it. all in all I agree with most of your review great job. also i would like to add sometimes for fun when im on the SSL i put VCC on neve mode for bass its fun.

with all that said try calibrating your groups to be hit in a certain way I like to make my drums one group and calibrate the group when you do this you notice a change in the sound of the VCC it helps add to the emulation of a console. I also do with on my subgroups with VTM and it works wonders less compression and eq but it sounds full and fat.

28 May 2013 at 12:10am

That's a really neat input. My contention is simply this, it's great n all that, but when it boils down to it most of what you can actually hear is simply the EQ adjustment it is making, which can be done with just a nice EQ.

Having said that, sometimes it feels like it's doing a tad bit of compression, probably it's saturation. That's cool too, but I mostly don't like to push it that far, if others do then they get more mileage.

VTM is definitely doing some compression. But you know sometimes I found I was tricked a little by seeing the meters move back and forth and I think that re-inforced the idea of it making it "lively" and adding movement. This is for VCC as well as VTM though VTM is much less subtle. Though more subtle if you just take out the noise.

Anyway, when it starts to get to that stage where I am not sure if I am hearing right or if my mind is playing tricks on me I start to wonder how much this processor is really doing if I have to squint and second guess myself like that!

29 May 2013 at 4:11pm

Really nice review. Just wondering… maybe kvr should have a way to 'subscribe' to another user reviews :D.

30 May 2013 at 3:03am

Yes that would be neat. I think that sometimes. I am back and forth about 6 or 7 points for this. Think of it as 6.5 maybe.

30 May 2013 at 8:04am

It's nice that you have really done an in depth review rather than 2 lines.. but i got to disagree. they are a 9.5 for me.. they would be a 10 if the gain had more range.. that's it. I can't fault them in any other way.. GUI, usability, CPU usage, zero latency, sound quality.. just totally transformed my sound.. love it.

30 May 2013 at 8:53am

I agree with TheoM. If you rate one kind of the product and give 7 out of 10 there must be another who is 10 out of ten.

I mean must be some kind of rank between all mixer simulations for adequate ranking.

30 May 2013 at 4:55pm

and the others don't really compare.. not satson.. not cs1v.. not waves.. but of course that's IMO.

It's in my standard template now in logic but what i am going to do in my next song is print it with all instances disabled then all enabled (i mix with it from the beginning and gain stage correctly, always). Then people can here the dramatic difference it makes to many aspects of the music. (for the better!).

30 May 2013 at 4:56pm

Ranking is a bit of a problem. What exactly is the reference? I am ranking it based on:

  • how useful it is overall.
  • how much it contributes to a good sound.
  • How much it costs vs what it does.
  • What it does vs what it's advertised to do.

Overall my score is actually positive.

6 June 2013 at 2:26pm

I've had some more experience with it and added an edit note at the end. I was wrong about SSL not doing anything noticable, I was right about it being that way on one track I tested, but on something a bit heavier and sparser I'm working on right now there was a difference when adding the SSL.

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