Slate Digital RC-Tube Review

Today we have a special guest in our review corner – Slate Digital RC Tube, the little brother of the Virtual Console Collection(VCC). Many will be aware of the name of both, especially after the big hype around of the VCC, and for sure many wonder if the hype is justified, so lets take a look on it.

The RC-Tube is in itself a single emulation within the VCC, which contains five emulations (API, Neve, SSL, Trident aswell as RC-Tube itselfs). The source of the emulation RC-Tube according to the manufacturer statement is a tube-broadcast console from the 1950s and promises a warm analog sound very deep and just as you will never find on any digital mixer. For many, the expectation on the sound through the word “tube-console” will be screwed securely even higher. But the expectations are met?

Before we give this question , Let us first look more closely at the plugin itself . As already mentioned, the RC-Tube is the little brother of the VCC, just reduced to only one emulation. Same as on the VCC two separate plugins are provided – RC-Tube Channel and RC-Tubel MixBuss. Working in following interface types:

  • Intel Mac 32bit: RTAS, AU, VST
  • Intel Mac 64bit: AU, VST
  • Windows 32bit: RTAS, VST
  • Windows 64bit: VST

The RC-Tube Channel is like the name suggest, provided for usage on the source channels and the MixBuss for groups and the sum. At first glance falls on one particularly, the GUI. Definitely an eye-catcher, very qualitive 3d-like looking.
We now turn to the essential, the sound. If you place the RC-Tube on a channel, you will hear almost no difference. Some may wonder at this moment safe – this does not sound like a tube. But we shouldn`t forget, what kind of plugin it is. An emulation of an analog console, and these usually have a large headroom, which is also emulated. So till expected saturation starts, you have to drive the signal massively close or directly into the clipping zone, till you will hear a very decent saturation effect. On the way till there, the signal gets a very subtle improvement. This point is positive and negative at once – but mainly positive.
So why negative? You can`t use the RC-Tube for intensive saturation effects, or any kind of drive effect like the name “RC-Tube” suggest. Positive because – it`s a console emulation for group and for single tracks, and imagine you using up to 20 virtual channels in your project, in the end with this decent improvement on the sound, the result will never sounds overloaded or somehow distorted, but very nice enhanced with that vintage console sound.

Drum Bus – RC Channel off
Drum Bus – RC Channel on (+6db Drive)

Bass Bus – RC Channel off
Bass Bus – RC Channel on (+6db Drive)

Synth Bus – RC Channel off
Synth Bus complete – RC Channel on (+6db Drive)

Full Track – RC Channels & MixBus off
Full Track – RC Channels & MixBus on (+6db Drive)

As you can hear the coloring is very subtle especially on the single instruments group with just 1 RC Channel on the sum. On the full track example, with 3 RC Channels on all 3 instruments groups and a MixBus instances on the main output, the difference is more clear. The bottom is a little stronger, the higher frequency area`s decent colorated. In all just more vintage-like sounding. And still with some space for more crunchy saturation, by additional increasing of the input value on the single channels.

Final verdict
The sound quality is definitely very high, without a doubt. Quite useful too, especially for musicians who like to give their songs a little more vintage-touch. Due to the very subtle effect, it`s necessary to run a relatively large number of instances in the track and this naturally increases the cpu load, which does limit the applicability of the plugin. Not everyone owns a MacProk with 8 or 12 cpu-cores, so is the serious issues, especially for laptop users. But by what it is, a console emulation, it`s understandable that we can`t expect such an intense saturation as we maybe know it from other tools like Soundtoys Decapitator.

All in all, especially for musicians and composers which loving the good old vinage sound, the RC-Tube will certainly be interesting. For soundbuilders, probably not. For all those, who like the RC-Tube, they should look also on the complete Virtual Console Collection, which offers next to the RC-Tube 4 other emulations, based on API, Neve, SSL and Trident consoles.

More information: slatedigital.com (49.00 $ – requires iLok2)

Sound Quality - 90%
Features - 80%
Perfomance - 80%
Value for Money - 80%

Summary: All in all, especially for musicians and composers which loving the good old vinage sound, the RC-Tube will certainly be interesting. For soundbuilders, probably not.

82%

Interesting


Published on June 12th, 2013

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