Slate Digital VRS8 Interface Launched

Slate Digital has launched the VRS8, their 8×8 recording interface for Thunderbolt-equipped Macs.

For home studio enthusiasts who want pro-level gear, there’s really only three ways to do it: Universal Audio Apollo, Slate Digital VRS and the Everything Bundle … or buy a standalone interface and collect your own plugins from lots of different vendors.

The UAD system relies on DSP chips in the Apollo hardware to run emulations of analog outboard gear. You have to buy these plugins separately, and they cost hundreds of pounds each. The results are fantastic, and not only well worth the money, but also far cheaper than buying (and maintaining!) the real outboard gear.

There’s just one problem, and it’s the reason why I haven’t bought any UAD plugins this year. The Apollo hardware is simply underpowered. It doesn’t take many plugins to max out the available hardware. And if you’re a home studio enthusiast, it’s a lot of money to move from the Apollo Twin up to the Apollo 8.

Enough money to consider looking at switching to something else.

Now Slate Digital has its own serious problem to take into account. It’s secured by an iLok key. Look at a modern Mac. Where the hell do you find a free port to plug the iLok into these days?!? One port is taken up by power, one by the external storage that the session is on, one by your audio interface, and one by your external monitor.

Yes, I know there’s a virtual iLok now. I live in the UK, where our broadband is about as reliable as a Trump tweet or a Brexit promise. I don’t want a (rare!) creative day ruined because of a broadband outage.

That said, the Slate Digital VRS looks really interesting. For pretty much the same price as the Apollo 8 Quad, you get 8 preamps and a year’s access to the Everything Bundle. (The equivalent UAD Ultimate Bundle is currently over £2,300 and doesn’t include all of the plugins). And your Mac will be able to run far more plugins at once than the quad-DSPs of the Apollo 8.

Thing is, if I’m going to use all 8 preamps, I’d want the Apollo 8p, not the Apollo 8. The difference? The extra Unison preamps, which model the electrical behaviour of whatever outboard gear you’re simulating. I’m a big fan, and a big believer that part of the organicness of a recorded tone comes from the interaction of the electrical circuit.

Question is, though: is it a difference that is noticeable in a final mix? And is it a difference that’s worth the extra money?

Behind The Scenes – Making Backing Tracks

Shane has been making new backing tracks for his YouTube channel, and he’s shot a video showing how he does it.

He’s got a pretty slick and efficient way of putting these together, and a very firm opinion of what to do for drums in a track (plus recommendations for where to get great drums from). You’ll have to watch the video to see how he does it 🙂

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Shane’s video.

Mary Spender Breaks Down ‘Only One’

For this week’s Tuesday Talk, Mary Spender walks us through the history and recording of her new song ‘Only One’.

This is the first song where Mary has done all the engineering herself. She normally records in a studio, but this time she wanted to have more time to work on the song – and studio time quickly becomes very expensive.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment. It takes a lot of courage to share this kind of information, especially in today’s world of armchair critics and trolls.

How To Sound Like A Gear Demo

Brian Wampler has posted a great video, walking us all through his exact recording process for the amps and pedals in his videos.

It’s incredibly generous of Brian to share this with us. For many YouTubers and professional musicians, recorded sound quality is a competitive advantage – and teaching these techniques is a source of income too.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you found Brian’s video useful.

3 Ways To Get Drums Without A Drumkit

Graham over at The Recording Revolution looks at how you can add drums to your recordings without having a real drummer or playing a real drum kit.

Many of us can’t play drums, and we don’t have the physical space for a drum kit of any kind either – and yet, we play music genres where drums are a major component of the overall sound.

So we need options – and Graham’s video shows 3 common options to fill in (pun intended) for a real drummer.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you found Graham’s video useful.

Customising The Mouse In Reaper

Over on Reaper TV, Paul Charlton has posted a great video on how to customise Reaper to speed up your workflow. He shows you how to setup macros that you trigger via a keyboard shortcut – and that act on whatever the mouse is pointing at.

Yeah, it’s difficult to summarise succinctly. Paul does a much better job than me on explaining it:

Reaper’s low price makes it seem like a baby DAW, but as you can see in this video, it’s anything but. If you’re recording at home and looking for a DAW that you probably won’t ever outgrow, Reaper should be the first DAW you check out.

I’ve been using Reaper for several years now, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it can do. I’m a huge fan of Reaper TV. I think it’s one of the best resources out there for learning what Reaper can do, and how to use Reaper.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Paul’s video.