Slate Pro Audio Dragon Analog Dynamic Processor
Slate Pro Audio Dragon Specifications:
- 1176-style FET Gain Reduction Circuit
- 1073 Class A Discrete Amplifier
- 3 EQ-Emphasis Character Filters
- Parallel Compression Mix Knob
- Vintage and Normal Modes
- Analog Tape-style Saturation Modes
- High Pass Filter Side Chain
- Ratios 2:1 to Squash
The Slate Pro Audio Dragon is unlike any dynamic audio processor you‘ve heard before. Simply put, the Dragon was created to be the most versatile compressor, limiter, and sound shaping tool that the pro audio industry has ever seen.Sound on Sound Review, July 2010
The Dragon starts with a classic FET compressor circuit, reminiscent of vintage units from the 60’s and 70’s. But the Slate Pro Audio engineers enhanced the circuitry of the unit with a mastering grade signal path, Jensen input transformer, and a CLASS A output section based around a custom-made output transformer. The result is a compression quality that is so rich and warm, but is also capable of sharp and aggressive tones. But this is only the start of what the Dragon can do.
Add Some Character
The Dragon includes three ‘character’ settings that change the way the unit sounds and responds. The first setting is BOOM. This setting adds sub bass harmonics in a unique way that when combined with some compression, can make basses sound massive and kick drums pound like you’ve never heard before. The second setting is BITE, which adds a gentle ‘forward’ character that makes the source more defined and clear. BITE is superb on bass, snare, vocals, and guitars. Last, is SHEEN. This character setting adds an airy gloss to the source, reminiscent of classic opto tube compressors. This setting is absolutely stunning on vocals, acoustics, and overheads. Full mixes can gain new clarity and excitement from the sheen setting. All character settings can be used simultaneously!
The Dragon's "Vintage" button enables circuitry that emulates a more vintage sound from a classic age of compression. The result is more harmonics, a bit of ‘grit’, and an overall more aggressive sound with tons of attitude that is amazing on electric guitars, bass, and a must-hear on drums.
The Dragon has a three setting saturation selector. This saturation can add warm and rich harmonics or even gritty distortion. On setting 1, it can add just the right of “life” to a dull vocal. On setting 2, it can add presence and warmth to a bass or make guitars sound like they are hitting tape. On setting 3, it can add some rich harmonics to a snare to bring out the sustain and make it come alive in the mix.
Wait, There’s MORE
The Dragon includes a hi pass filter so you have the option to control the amount of low end that feeds the compressor detection. This is useful when stereo linking two DRAGONS together for transparent mixbuss compression, or for grouped drum compression where you don’t want the drums to ‘pump’.
FET Your Mixbuss
Classic FET compressors have not been common mixbuss choices due to their excessive color and aggressive nature. However, the Dragon includes a gentle 2:1 setting that sounds amazing on full mixes. With the character, vintage, and saturate options disabled, the signal path is quiet and clean with just the right amount of rich tone. Of course if you need more color or saturation on your buss, it’s just a button or switch away. With settings 2:1, character SHEEN, Saturate 1, and slow attack and fast release, your mix will come alive in an incredible way.
The Dragon is one of the finest drum compressors to ever hit the analog market, and is complete with the famous overcompression “all buttons in” mode called ‘Squash’. This setting is simply stunning on drum room mics, or any other source that you want to explode out of the mix. Due to its extremely hifi signal path, the Dragon’s ‘Squash’ setting can create that larger then life effect without causing a harsh or brittle high end.
Mix It Up
Last and certainly not least, the Dragon includes a ‘Mix” knob to control the wet/dry ratio of the source. This amazing feature allows you to add some heavy compression, and then back it off gently until it creates the perfect balance for your mix. The ‘Mix’ knob also allows you to parallel compress sources, such as drum busses, without having to mult or buss the drums to additional faders! You’ll find the ‘mix’ knob to be one of the most useful tools in modern analog compression. It works especially well with the saturation and squash features. Overcompressing a vocal and then mixing back the wet signal is the ultimate way to make a vocal pop without losing the subtle nuances.
The Dragon’s faceplate has a subtle black-gloss-on-satin-black design that placed the Dragon in the top ten of Gearslutz Best-Looking Gear poll.
Normally compressors don’t need presets, but with so many options (there is literally thousands of combinations), the Dragon ships with a huge listing of presets made by Steven Slate and some of the world’s top producers, mixers, and even mastering engineers. But once you experience the many possibilities and sounds of the Dragon, you’ll soon enjoy making your own!
Engineers using the Dragon
- Chris Lord-Alge
- Michael Brauer
- Justin Neibank
- Jay Baumgardner
- Brett Chassen
- Taylor Swift
- Colbie Caillat
- Reba McEntire
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