Slate Digital’s breakthrough VMS Virtual Microphone System puts a world-class collection of classic tube mics and preamps into a single affordable hardware/software package
The Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System is a hybrid analog digital system comprising the ML-1 high-definition, large-diaphragm condenser microphone, VMS-ONE preamp, Virtual Microphone Collection, and Virtual Preamp Collection. What makes the VMS a breakthrough in recording gear is its ability to give you the sounds of the most sought-after vintage mics, including the Telefunken 251, Neumann U47, AKG C12, and Sony C-800G—sounds that are virtually indistinguishable from the original golden units whose performance was meticulously recreated with the most advanced modeling techniques available. But it doesn’t stop there: Slate VMS gives you a full signal chain including audio royalty the likes of Neve 1073 discreet preamp and extremely rare Telefunken V76 tube preamp.
Slate Digital Virtual Microphone System in one take:
- ML-1 ultra linear, high-definition, large-diaphragm condenser microphone
- VMS-ONE super linear, ultra wide-bandwidth preamp designed by Paul Wolff, formerly of API and Tonelux
- Virtual microphone collection including highly accurate models of the Telefunken 251, Neumann U87, and Sony C800-G
- Virtual preamp collection featuring the venerable Neve 1073 discrete preamp and super rare Telefunken V76 tube preamp
ML-1 LDC Microphone
The ML-1 is an extremely high definition, ultra linear microphone with extremely precise, transparent reproduction, flat frequency response, and super-wide bandwidth. What that means is that the response of the microphone is free of dips and hypes in the frequency range, as well as coloration from components.
This provides a blank ‘slate’ (if you will) for the software to add the coloration that made those vintage mics so desirable. Of course, there are certain factors in condenser mic design that still need to be taken into account, such as proximity effect from cardioid polar patterns. To enable the software to accurately reproduce the response of the classic tube condensers, the capsule of the ML-1 precisely replicates the classic cardioid of vintage large-diaphragm mics. In short, a perfect marriage of analog response and digital modeling.
To achieve the goal of a preamp as close to a straight wire with gain, the ideal by which all transparent preamps are judged, Steven Slate engaged the services of legendary designer Paul Wolff, former owner and head designer for API and Tonelux. The VMS-ONE, according to Wolff, is the flattest preamps he’s ever measured. Using state-of-the-art amplifiers, this super linear and clean circuit preamp is the final step in ensuring that the purest signal is created, giving the VMS plug-in module the opportunity to add the perfect reproduction of classic microphones and preamps.
Using state-of-the-art amplifiers, this super linear and clean circuit preamp is the final step in ensuring that the purest signal is created, giving the VMS plug-in module the opportunity to add the perfect reproduction of classic microphones and preamps. Another advantage of the VMS-ONE preamp is its DI, which enables you to plug a bass, for example and select a model such as the FG-76 for a deep, lush bass tone to disk.
VMS Plug-in Module
Completing the Virtual Microphone System is the VMS plugin module. This plug-in module takes the ultra clean signal coming from the VMS hardware and turns it into classic recreations of famous microphones and microphone preamps. The software models dynamic response of the microphone including frequency response, the way it saturates, and even the way the harmonics relate to each other—every minute detail.
With extremely complex algorithms, the result of a groundbreaking new physical modeling process that is tuned by ear, the VMS algorithms add no latency, so recording in real-time through the emulations is easy on a new, powerful native system. Not only do you have these sounds available at mix time, you can also track through the mic and preamp models, which is huge once you’ve found the sound that inspires your singer.
Slate Digital VMS Microphone and Preamp Model Origins
Slate Digital journeyed to NRG Recording Studios, the world-class facility of award-winning producer/mixer, Jay Baumgardner, and host to artists such as Evanescence, The Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, and many more, to compare Slate VMS model to real vintage microphones on male and female vocals, acoustic guitar, and drums. Extreme care was taken to ensure that the capsules were aligned for each source during the comparison. The vintage microphones went through a “gold standard” classic Neve 1073 preamp (the same one used in the modeling process for the Slate FG-73 preamp emulation), while the FG-73 was used in post for the VMS tracks.
NRG owns several U47’s, but one in particular sounded nearly identical to the VMS’s own FG-47 model. This is the same mic that famed engineer Ross Hogarth used for his VMS/47 comparison at NRG (read Hogarth’s reactions below).
The VMS Mic Models:
FG-251—A stunning recreation of the Telefunken 251, it’s the perfect balance of top, middle, and bottom. There is something so flattering about this mic that every singer you try it on just sounds better than they do in the actual room. The intensity control will darken the sound in a musical way. This mic pairs well with both preamps, so try them both using the VMR A->B system. There’s really not much more to say about this one. The FG251 was a favorite among initial testers.
FG-47—This mic will take you back in time. It’s lush, warm, fat, present, and big sounding. It adds body to thin sound sources, but doesn’t have the modern high-end sizzle. However, boosting a little 10kHz brings out the air in this model flawlessly. Do be afraid to crank it—the FG-47 can but it take high-end EQ like a like a champ. By increasing the intensity, it gets even darker, moodier, and a bit more saturated. Use this microphone on vocals, drum room, outside kick, horns, and strings—everything the pros have used it for in the studio for decades.
FG-800—The FG-800 is based on the Sony C-800G, one of the most used microphones to make female vocals jump out of the track. Extremely bright and airy, this mic tone works perfectly in a pop mix with no EQ needed. When this mic is the right tool for the job, nothing will sound as good—and it works on modern male rock vocals too. If you have a vocalist who is sibilant, make sure you have a good de-esser.
The FG-800 pairs very well with the FG-76, which will mellow the top end just a little for an overall great sound. The intensity will darken the mic a bit making sound amazing on certain sources. For example, it’s great on acoustic guitar at about 140% intensity.
FG-800M—The Slate Digital FG-800M emulates a version of the Sony C-800G that was slightly fatter and darker than the typically bright stock 800. If you want the sound of the FG-800 but need to tame sibilance, or desire slightly less brightness, the FG-800M will be the way to go.
FG-12—If you’re well versed in the lore of vintage mics, you know that among the most coveted is the classic AKG C12, revered for its incredibly smooth, rich sound, and hovering at the $10k-$15k range on the vintage market (if you can find one). The original C12 was and still is a first-call mic for vocals and drum overheads (if the studio was lucky enough to have two). To craft the sound of the FG-12, Slate Digital found a stunning version of the original C12 to model, and dare we say, a perfect representation of this sought-after tone.
FG-M7—A hybrid dynamic/tube model that combines the famed Shure SM7 dynamic mic made legendary by Bruce Swedien’s use as a vocal mic for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, album with the tube stage of the U47 modeled from NRG’s vintage 47. The result is an extremely punchy and crisp-sound mic with mids for days that cut through a mix. If you’re looking to add body to a thin-sounding voice, start here.
FG-67—This model brings you the rich tube tone of the venerable Neumann U67, known for its slightly darker top end and thick, bold sound. An amazing vocal, the U67 is also magical on horns, piano, room mics, and a particular favorite of Steven Slate for toms.
FG-269—Based on the Neumann M269, a rare multi-pattern tube mic (circa 1962), which featured the famed K67 capsule found in U67 and U87 mics, but used a different tube (the Telefunken AC701), which produced higher gain and more air in the high end than the U67. If you’re looking for a sound similar to the U67 but without the associated top-end darkness, the FG-269 delivers the goods with openness and clarity.
The VMS Preamps
FG-73—Modeled after the ubiquitous Neve 1073 discrete preamp, the drive control of the FG-73 increases input gain while simultaneously decreasing output gain, which enables you to hear the saturation characteristics as they are without fooling your ear into thinking louder is better or distorting your DAW.
FG-76—The FG-76 preamp plug-in is modeled after the rare and highly sought-after Telefunken V76 tube preamp. A staple of recording for decades, the V76 is considered the king of tube preamps. Rich, smooth, and open, with depth for days, the sound of the V76 is actually more familiar than you might think. It was used in the REDD 36 console at Abbey Road Studios during the time when the Beatles did most of their recording (between 1964-1970 before Abbey Road went solid state with the EMI TG12345 console).
What the pros saying about the Slate Virtual Microphone System
“I’ve just really compared it to the two holy-grail mics I have and it’s unbelievably close – pretty mind-blowing. Cranking the intensity gets me to where my mics naturally sound I wouldn’t know that the VMS is NOT another 47 or 251. You guys have knocked it outta the park. Amazing work.”
– Greg Wells (Adele, OneRepublic)
“I’m literally blown away. We just put it up against a real 47 and it matched so close that they would be indistinguishable in a mix. This is a winner. You even get the 3D quality of the real mics. This is a new frontier.”
– Ross Hogarth (Miley Cirus, Van Halen)
“After trying out the VMS 251 and 47 models using the 73 preamp emulation, I can say that this product delivers on its promise to offer realistic recreations of the vintage mics and pres.”
– Jay Baumgardner (Evanescence, Papa Roach, Bush)
With the Slate Digital VMS, you can pick the right mic and preamp for the job without leaving your mix position or having to spend close to $100k on vintage mics and preamps. For more information, call or chat with your Westlake Pro sales consultant today.
Slate Digital VMS Virtual Microphone System Features
- A hybrid microphone and preamp modeling system that gives you access to virtually any signal path tone you can imagine
- System includes an extremely transparent and totally flat ML-1 cardioid condenser microphone
- Totally neutral VMS-ONE preamp ensures minimal coloration, giving you a clean slate for preamp modeling
- VMS plugin software lets you completely change the tonal characteristics of your recording, even after the fact
- Choose from a collection of classic vintage mic and preamp models as well as unique models for advanced recording techniques
What’s In The Box?
- ML-1 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
- Shock Mount
- Microphone/Shock Mount Case
- VMS-ONE Microphone Preamp Base Unit
- Microphone Preamp Power Supply
- Software Redemption Pass code Postcard