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Slate Platinum Drums Review ( Early Impressions)

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by DonnyThompson, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I picked up Slate's Platinum 4.0 Drums Collection late last week; I've only had a few days to work with it, so these are early impressions. So far, I am pleased with the program all the way around. Further and more intensive use may bring certain weak points to the surface, I can't say as of this writing, but my initial impressions are positive.

    The collection comes with 100 different drum kits, from Classic/Vintage to Modern, to Metal, from Jazz to Urban....all of which can be mixed and matched using any drum/cymbal sample; so, for example, you can pull a vintage Ludwig snare drum from the Vintage kit and add it to a more contemporary sounding kit, or vice versa.

    All the samples I've heard thus far sound great; they are all adjustable in regard to tuning, direct vs room ambiance vs stereo OH's. A mixer is included in the program which allows you to assign different pieces to different outputs/buses, as well as adjusting the volumes, panning, dynamics, attack and release, and as mentioned, the ratio of direct to room/OH signal.

    So far, I've been able to have 3 different Kick drums playing at once, which is handy if you were looking to underscore a normal kick drum with a sub-sound to fill out the bottom range, or, to add a more metal-sounding kick drum to obtain some "click". Each of these kicks can be adjusted in every parameter available.
    The Snare mixer allows for control of both the top and bottom heads discreetly.

    Now, I haven't yet attempted to combine different drums with other similar drum samples - like toms for example - so I can't say if this is possible or not. Of course, you could always clone your tom tracks on your DAW, and assign each of the tracks to different Slate kits, so it can be done, I'm just not sure if it can be done within the Slate program.

    One of the big indicators for me with any drum sample collection has always been the cymbals. Slate has created their cymbals, using Soultone Cymbals as their sonic source, and I have to say, based on what I've used over the years right up until now, these cymbals are the best samples I've ever worked with.
    (Truthfully, I'd never even heard of SoulTone cymbals until now).
    They don't have that all-too-common "fizzy" or phasey sound to them. And, being a drummer myself, I'm pretty sensitive ( and somewhat picky) about drum samples in general. To me, the Slate/SoulTone cymbals sound like .... well, they sound like real cymbals.
    They aren't artificially hyped in certain frequencies - as many other drum sample manufacturers tend to do with their cymbals; these are smooth and natural sounding. Rides are silky, the ride bell has that perfect "ring" to it without being "metallic". Crash cymbals don't "swirl".

    One of the interesting things that I've noticed in this early stage of use, is that the drums are only tunable within what would be considered to be their natural range. So, if you are trying to make a Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum sound like a Stewart Copeland Piccolo, you can't - which, as far as I'm concerned, is as it should be. If you want a piccolo snare, then don't try to turn a normal snare into that... instead, choose a piccolo snare from the library to begin with.

    Something that I did find a bit odd, was that when I was first looking into this program, I went to Slate's site, and honestly, I found the kit sample/demo section to sound not nearly as good as the youtube videos showing the demos... and these demo files on the site didn't sound nearly as good in quality as the actual program.
    One would think that Slate would want to put their best foot forward, and to present the highest possible sound quality on their site. Perhaps the demo samples were down-sampled, or had lower bit resolutions to save bandwidth, I can't wager anything other than a guess, but I would think that with a company as large and as successful as Slate is, that they'd be able (and want) to provide the highest sonic quality possible on their home-page demos.

    In any regard, I guess what I'm saying is, don't be mislead by the sounds of the samples on their actual site. This is a better indication:



    I have not had a chance to work with any of the "specialty" kits yet, such as the Jazz, Brush, ED's or Urban Kits.
    While I can see myself using the Jazz and Brushes kits, I doubt I would ever use the ED or Urban kits, these just aren't my style, but who knows? It's possible... especially if a client wants these styles.
    I will get around to checking them out just to see what they do sound like and what they are capable of.

    The price for the Slate 4.0 Platinum Drums Collection is $149.00 (U.S.)
    All major DAWS are supported, as are both MAC and PC Operating Systems.

    I had absolutely no problems whatsoever using the Slate Drums with Samplitude Pro X Suite on W10 OS.
    I created a MIDI track, assigned the output to the Slate Drums (SSD4 VSTi) and they popped right up.
    (There was no sound at first, then I realized that I had to load a kit first (duh). From then on, everything worked seamlessly).

    As a side note, I downloaded this program. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't. Instead, I'd go with the actual hard copy installation version. The download times were extensive, and I'm on a cable modem with DL speeds of at least 15mb, and it still took several hours to DL the program and the accompanying sample libraries.

    Summary: Based on early impressions, I'd say that this collection is outstanding. If you are looking at drum sample libraries, the Slate Platinum 4.0 collection is a great sounding package, very intuitive, very useful and very user-friendly... and not just for the very affordable $149, but IMO, even if it was priced at double that amount.

    More info here:

    http://www.stevenslatedrums.com/products/platinum/

     
    kmetal, pcrecord and audiokid like this.
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    The YouTube sounds pretty good! How is it on CPU power? That's killer about the cymbals being good, I'm going to send a link to my cousin who's using BFd. @150$ it's worth genuine sounding triggered cymbals all day, and all night!!!!

    I would imagine you salute doesn't put out full fidelity samples so people don't sample them? I'm not sure. Can't really think of any other reasons, besides what you said.
     
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I've got a 4 minutes project file open in Samp right now, with 16 tracks of various audio, 4 buses and 2 Auggies ( some with VST processing inserted, some with none) and I've got 8 separate midi tracks of Slate Drums happening ( keeping all the pieces of the kit on their own tracks)... and my DSP meter is sitting around 13%.

    I'm running a Quad Core 3.5ghz processor with 16 gig of RAM.

    So the answer is - pretty darned easy on the CPU... and I can't say the same thing about some of Slate's VST other processing, ( EQ's, comps, limiters, channel strips, etc.) which, while I do like them, can be fairly memory hungry at times.

    As a side note, from what I've heard, I think the newer BFD is probably running neck and neck with Slate in quality - but it's almost $200 more, and while I think it sounds good, I don't believe that it sounds "$200 better"... I have the older BFD collection, and while it served me well for kicks and snares - for awhile - I never did care for the toms, or cymbals - but I've heard samples recently from the updated BFD library that sounded really good to me. In the last year or so, I've been using Superior 2.0, and I think Slate Platinum is a far better-sounding collection.
     
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member


    Hot damn! That's nice. Jw do you know what buffer your using? Thinking of how possible it would be to trigger these in a drummers headphones 'realtime'.
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Kyle...

    This scenario was for mixing, so buffers were set hi @ 1024. I don' have an e-kit anymore, so I can't test latency for you in regard to RT triggering on my system. I will either use a real kit to record and then replace with samples ( or not, depending on the song), or, I'll do the quick and easy thing some late nights and use a midi keyboard controller. So far, I've only worked with it as a drum replacement VSTi, ( remember I've only had it a few days), but yours is a valid question and one I'd also like to know the answer to.

    You ( We) may want to check out Slate's site and see if there's a forum or an FAQ where we could ask or see if your question has already been answered.
     
    kmetal likes this.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    One other thing I just thought about Kyle... and that is that the i/o that is being used is also going to be a factor in the latency.

    I'm using a Presonus 1818VSL, ( and even though this model does have a Word Clock coaxial jack (output/master), it is currently not clocked to any other device, nor are the SPDIF or Lightpipe ports connected to anything, either) and I'm able to get a round-trip latency down to as low as 11.6 ms - at a buffer setting of 512 - using the built -in ASIO drivers that are integrated with the VSL ...
    ( lower latencies than that are achievable, but, are not "realistic" on my system for a "common" tracking scenario, without getting errors/drops).

    This figure was reached and tested using CEntrance, a latency testing utility for Windows. However, this figure wasn't reached using an actual mix scenario, where various DSP's are commonly used, or where VSTi's are running resident and active as well; so that measurement is probably more of a "best case" scenario, and was not determined under a "real-use" tracking situation.

    In that situation, I can really only go by the DSP meter at the bottom left-hand corner of Samplitude to give me an idea of what is happening.

    I think it's also important to mention here that my W10 start up scenario for my production platform is stripped bare of any non-essentials. No virus protection program, no games, no apps... I have nothing running in the background that doesn't need to be there in order for the OS to run.

    And, while the Presonus is certainly not considered to be of the same caliber as higher-end preamp/i-o's by manufacturers such as Neve, SSL, Antelope, RME, etc., it is a solid, stable, good-sounding audio i-o; and what I would consider to be a "mid-level" model; ( it's actually the exact same thing as the Presonus StudioLive Console, in an 8 input rack mount version, with the various input processing being controlled by a software application, instead of being tactilely adjustable as is what is available on the real desk ) so while certainly not a bad i-o, I wouldn't argue that there are better models out there that could very likely perform better, all the way around.

    So, I guess that I am suggesting that, in regard to latency, for as much as your cousin's current computer CPU/Memory will be a factor - so will his current audio i-o device and its integrated drivers as well.

    FWIW :)

    d.
     
    kmetal likes this.
  7. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Performance lies in the drivers and main board design. With the FF800 I get a very stable setup even if I have units clocked together. Less latency, less dropouts...
    I'm using addictive drums right now and if I use my TD9 as controler on a project without too much plugins, I'm able to play with the live Addictive sounds.
    With my late saffire 56 I couldn't do that. I used to record while listening to the TD9 sounds and then send the recorded midi to the DrumVSTi

    Back to the video; I found the presenter a bit rigid didn't you ? A more relax attitude would have entertained me more.. ;)

    I'm in a few projects but when I get time I'll give the demo a shot !
     
    kmetal likes this.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    When I switched from a FF800 (FW) interface to PCIe interface the latency and performance of everything (multi tracking, midi and ability to edit (example: punch-in overdubs) was like upgrading to a new computer. The performance increase was not subtle.

    I cant help think... imagine (unaware) how subjective our experiences and opinions are based around the computer, drivers and interfacing people use.

    How does this relate?
    For whatever reasons I am able to use BFD3 better (more load as well) when my midi controller interface is connected to a PCIe interface apposed to a FW or USB.

    Interestingly enough, just recently this is no longer an issue because I bought a Nord Lead 4 (keyboard). It seems to react better to BFD3 (MIDI triggering).
    So, what once was an issue for me was corrected after choosing a different way to trigger my software drums. Had I not discovered that, I would have thought BFD3 was a CPU hog. Which it is but not in the way I thought. Its very fast and I can go down to 64 buffer most of the time.

    Point being, Would the Nord Lead 4 USB been totally fine and I may not have sold my FF800 as easily.
    Switching my controller to a Nord Lead 4 appears to like my USB hub so now BFD3 seems to be running excellent without the PCIe interface.
     
    kmetal and pcrecord like this.
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Wow, 64 is low. Your issue is interesting. I long for the day where a company besides radar will just build a modern recording machine, instead of adapting glorified word processor based machines. Expensively.

    Plug in a 20 yr old standalone hard disk recorder, it probably still works, plug in a 7 year old computer, and it's likely to barely start.

    I can't help but feel like a lot of this stuff is really toys. From crappy but expensive live speakers, to 3k mixers that have worse sonic qualities and effects than a free DAW or pluggin. I'm really really starting to think most of it is crap, reguardless of price.
     
    Kurt Foster likes this.
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Those days are here. I love what I have. Its never been better and never been more affordable. The key is learning what you need and don't need..
     
    kmetal likes this.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    LOL... I'm not gonna take that bet... but I get what you are saying. I think you'd probably have a lot more problems with a 20 year old console than you would a 5 year old computer. I won't lie... there are times when I just want to make music and record it, and it seems like occasionally a lot of this stuff can get in the way, but that's me speaking more as a musician/songwriter than as an engineer. The engineer in me is happy for the technology advances that have been made.

    As someone who is old enough to have been professionally involved in both the old and the new schools of recording and production, I find that there's far less maintenance involved in the newer, digital platforms. Looking at a worse case scenario, even if I did have to replace my computer every 5 years or so ( at around $600, give or take), that's still far less than what I paid in that same time span to maintain and keep my analog gear running at its optimal performance. In that same 5 year time span, I'm sure I also spent thousands just on tape stock alone, including 1/4", 1/2", 1" and 2" for various projects.

    Technology is a double edged sword - If you ask someone like Kurt, he'll tell you that he hates the fact that the craft is now accessible to any no-talent John Doe with a computer. If you ask someone like me, I'll tell you that I can do far more, and for a lot less, with much more potential for creativity. And while I tend to share his sentiment in regard to those who have no business being in this business, it's also opened up a lot of doors to the people who should be in this business, or who have already been doing this for years and can take advantage of what technology has to offer in a way that sounds good, and that works, because we've already learned the fundamentals, and we know the difference between a garbage mic and a good one, and more importantly, we know how to use these tools.

    IMHO of course.
     
    kmetal likes this.

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