As you may know, Steven and the team at Slate Digital have released their latest module for the Slate Virtual Mix Rack (VMR). The FG-A module is a 4 band EQ modelled after a very famous and popular 3 band American EQ, the API 550A. In this Mix Test, we take a look and listen to how you can use the FG-A along with other VMR modules and Slate Digital Plug-ins to create a hard-hitting heavy rock mix.
For this Mix Test, we are using a session by UK band Voltaire. This track called Defenceless Earth features on their new album which will be out in the autumn. Drums were tracked by myself at my studio all the other parts were recorded by the band in their home studio spaces.
For each of the instruments, we have created two audio files. The first is the soloed instrumental or vocal track with all the processing enabled except the FG-A EQ. For the second track, we have kicked in the EQ. I think you will notice the difference.
I have also included screenshots of some of the channel and bus strips used in the mix so you can see what I used and how I had it set up. Remember this is not a mixing tutorial, but a chance for you to hear a new plug-in emulation of a classic piece of hardware at work.
You can hear that the drums have been well recorded and are being controlled nicely by a selection of VMR modules. I love the sound of an 1176 style compressor on kick drums, and the free Slate Revival module helps to just enhance the bottom end and bring out the real top end click on the beater on the kick drum batter head.
As I have limited myself to only using the FG-A in this session I decided to put it on the Drum Bus chain just to beef up the bottom end and control some of the mid-range. The Slate VTM helps glue the drums together with some very gentle tape saturation at 30ips.
Before processing, the Bass DI part sounded good, tight and in tune but lacked a little life. I have used the FG-116 to pull the life into the track with quite a bit of gain reduction. When you hear the FG-A enabled in the second track below you can hear what Dave the bass player was going for, a kind of fuller sounding Iron Maiden Steve Harris type of sound. I have brought up the 5kHz band by around 2dB to help bring out the finger sound on the instrument.
I always struggle with Keyboards because half of me thinks, "what the player wanted was what came out of the keyboard", I then get stuck in a loop of what I want versus the raw sound. Strange I know. For this track I pulled up a VMR synth preset then changed the EQ to the FG-A and had a play untell it felt right and sat back in the mix. However, when the keys solo kicks in this setting also works as it evens out the minor changes in velocity of the performance.
Paul is what you might call a natural player. The cable goes from the guitar, into the amp with not pedal mess or fuss in between. The tone comes from his fingers, the guitar and the amp and I don't want to mess with that too much. I used the FG-A to pull up by about 4dB around 12.5kHz to help the guitar cut through then shaped the mid to help it sit with the keyboards. The FG-401 compressor is helping with the transition between chugging rhythm and screaming lead lines.
To say that Dave the bass player singer has a "set of pipes on him", could be a bit of an understatement. I also love an 1176 on vocals. I'm hitting it quite hard when he really goes for the chorus but it's in such a way to not compress the more gentle verse to hard at all. I'm using the FG-A to lift the real top end of the vocal and bring out some of the mid-range where the warmth of the voice is.
One of the nice things about mixing in the box is that you can try and change your plug-in order very quickly and easily. The Master Bus first goes through VMR then into the VTM for some lovely tape smoothness. I'm sure the original 550A EQ was not designed as a master bus or mastering EQ but it works really well on this mix. I'm just pulling the very top end of the mix down a little where the cymbals feel a little too overpowering. I'm also pushing 2dB at 100Hz to give the track more weight yes I'm high passing in the following plug-in so it gives a nice push without to much low rumble.
It's worth noting that the NO EQ track has no FG-A EQ engaged on ANY TRACK not just the master bus. This is truly a mix with no EQ on any channel, then we hear the EQ on every channel.
I hope you agree the FG-A EQ is a very use-able addition to the Virtual Mix Rack family. To my ears it has that API character about it that sounds so good on rock and heavy metal music. Well done Steve and the team at Slate Digital. We look forward to what ever you are cooking up for us next.
You can find out more about the new FG-A and all the modules in the VIrtual Mix Rack by visiting the Slate DIgital website.
If you like this style of Mix Test do please let us know in the comments below and we will keep them coming.