Vintage King Audio, a leading dealer of high-end new and vintage recording equipment based in Detroit, has added the Slate Pro Audio Dragon Analog Dynamics Processor to its exclusive product line. The Dragon is a compressor, limiter and sound-shaping tool offering combinations of settings for expanding the possibilities of any analog mix. It was launched at the 127th AES Convention, which took place October 9-12, 2009, in New York City.
Created by producer/mixer Steven Slate—best known for his acclaimed virtual drum software—the Dragon is the first product from Slate's latest venture, Slate Pro Audio.
"I've been an analog gear head for as long as I can remember," Slate says. "I still use tons of analog hardware in my daily music production, and over the years I've developed new concepts for analog hardware that have never been done before. So after years of perfecting the designs, I finally gathered up a team of the most talented electronic engineers in the country, and I'm now seeing my dream gear come to fruition.
"Vintage King has always had their finger on the pulse of the audio industry, with a roster of the latest in boutique gear, so a partnership with them seemed only natural. We've had a great response so far. In fact, all of our beta testers, including some of the top mixers in the industry, have all kept their beta units."
The Slate Pro Audio Dragon's circuitry begins with a classic FET Compressor circuit reminiscent of units from the '60s and '70s. Slate Pro Audio's design engineers enhanced the unit with a mastering grade signal path, including Class-A output section based around a custom made transformer. The result is a compression quality said to be "incredibly rich and warm but also capable of sharp and aggressive tones."
The Dragon offers three "character" settings: Boom, Bite and Sheen. Setting 1, Boom, adds sub-bass harmonics that, when combined with compression, result in a rich, large flavor for basses and kick drums. Bite, setting 2, augments a gentle "forward" characteristic that is said to make the source sound more defined and clear (recommended for bass, snare, vocals and guitars). Setting 3, Sheen, adds "an airy gloss" to the source, reminiscent of classic opto tube compressors, and optimized for vocals, acoustics and overheads. All character settings can be used separately or in combination.
The unit's "Vintage" button enables circuitry that emulates a sound from "the classic age of compression" for "more harmonics, a bit of 'grit' and an overall more aggressive tone." The Dragon also contains a 2-inch tape saturation emulation with three distinct drive settings.
The Dragon also offers a highpass detection filter, an "all buttons in" squash mode, a gentle 2:1 setting for mix bus and mastering duties, and a wet/dry Mix Ratio knob that allows manipulation of the mix by adding heavy compression that users can back off gently until the mix is in perfect balance. It also offers the ability to put compress sources, such as drum buses, in parallel without having to mult or bus the drums to additional faders.
Vintage King Audio states that it will begin shipping the Dragon in November 2009. Units will include a list of presets created by Steven Slate and some of the industry's top mixers, producers and mastering engineers. The Slate Pro Audio Dragon is available with a custom tribal mural faceplate, designed by tattoo artist Davey Suicide, or in classic black.