The Slate Digital VRS8 is a low-latency native Thunderbolt interface with eight ultra-linear preamps for use with Slate VMS plug-ins and ML-1 and ML-2 modeling microphones for a complete virtual recording studio featuring the sounds of the world’s most coveted gear
With the VRS8 Virtual Recording Studio, Steven Slate has opened the doors to a world of studio equipment and sonics previously closed to all but a select and very lucky few. Thanks to cutting-edge physical modeling software and world-class analog design expertise, the dream of a record-quality studio in a box has arrived. The VRS8 not only has class-leading A/D/A conversion, featuring the latest audiophile-quality AKM AK5578 converter chips with a dynamic range of 124dB on all 8 inputs, it also has eight transparent, ultra-linear, super low-noise preamps. The VRS8’s preamps are as close as you’ll find to the holy grail of transparent preamp design, known in the trade as “a straight wire with gain.” The most linear design by industry giant Paul Wolff,* they offer a “preamp-tive” strike against coloration and distortion in order to enable the Slate Digital Virtual Preamp Collection to super-naturally possess the souls of the two most highly regarded mic preamps in recording lore. The VRS8 preamps use the state-of-the-art amplifiers to ensure the most linear response of all preamps designed by Wolff. When used with the ML-1 microphone, it provides the ultimate reference signal for the Slate Digital microphone and preamp modeling software to work its magic on your music.
Slate Digital VRS8—Just the Facts:
- Eight ultra-linear preamps
- Industry-best converters
- High-quality components
- Low-latency Native® (LLN) hard-wired chipset
- XTC audio clock
- Discrete headphone amplifiers
- Cross-platform low-latency performance
- Native MIDI I/O
- Slate Digital Everything Bundle FREE for one year!
*PAD For the Record—Paul Wolff made a name for himself in the recording industry as the man who rescued API. Founded by Saul Walker and Lou Lindauer in 1968, API established itself as one of the big three recording console manufacturers. The company was taken over by Datatronix, who put API assets up for sale in order to fund development of a payphone with a credit card slot. Paul Wolff, a former employee of Datatronix bought API in 1985. During his tenure, Wolff designed API’s most popular products including 5502 rack mount EQ, the 550B EQ, 3124 preamp, 512b mic pre, 2500 stereo bus compressor, 8200 series summing mixer, 7800 master section, the Legacy console, and Legacy Plus console (with Jeff Bork), the Vision console, and reissues of earlier products . As the industry began to shift towards smaller private studios, Wolff founded Tonelux Designs, geared toward the new recording studio business model. After selling Tonelux to PMI Audio, Paul founded Fix Audio, as well as Paul Wolff Designs, offering custom design work to pro audio manufacturers including A-Designs Audio, Lindell Audio, and of course, Slate Digital and Slate Technologies.
Slate Digital VRS8—Under the Hood
Eight ultra-linear preamps
When it comes to recording, the front end of your signal chain is the most important, which is why the VRS8 features eight high-bandwidth, ultra-linear microphone preamps. These are the same Paul Wolff design as the VMS-One preamp from the award-winning Virtual Microphone System. The highly transparent, linear, and super low-noise characteristics of the VMS-One preamps act like a blank canvas, or “clean Slate” if you will, enabling you to use Slate Digital’s physical modeling software to recreate the authentic sound of famous microphones and preamps. Instead of using single logic controller knobs and menus, each preamp has its own high-quality metal knob, so you can easily set levels as you would on an analog preamp. Another convenience that lives on the front panel of the VRS8 is a pair of high-quality JFET DI instrument inputs.
So now that you have your high-quality analog signal coming into the VRS8, what next. Well, we have to preserve the integrity of the signal and convert it into digital information. Therefore, instead of using budget components, the VRS8 offers mastering-quality conversion by incorporating the newest AKM AK5578 converter chips, which most transparent AD chips available, with higher specs than any other converter on the market, such as a jaw-dropping industry-best dynamic range of 124dB on all 8 inputs.
The sound of an audio interface relies on much more than the converter chip itself. To do digital audio properly, all of the components in the audio circuit have a direct effect on the audio quality. In keeping with Slate Digital’s “no compromise” design philosophy, the VRS8 utilizes high-quality WIMA capacitors for the entire audio path.
Low-latency Native (LLN)
An essential feature of the Virtual Recording Studio rests in its ability to provide a near real-time experience when using Slate’s analog modeled plug-ins during tracking. In order to achieve that goal, Slate Digital created a new technology called LLN, which stands for “Low Latency Native”. LLN uses a custom hard-wired converter chipset, which reduces managed components in the audio path, allowing an incredible 1-millisecond latency at 96kHz (with a 32-sample buffer). This latency spec allows you to monitor through mic and preamp emulations while tracking—essential for expressive performances—giving you the ability to hear your audio in context while still allowing you to change your mind later.
XTC audio clock
The audio clock is the heart of any recording interface, which is why it was important that the VRS8 had a killer clocking system onboard. The VRS8 employs satellite-grade XTC clocking technology, comprising four temperature-compensated crystal oscillators for ultra-stable audio performance, keeping your audio jitter- and distortion-free.
Discrete headphone amplifiers
Most engineers listen to music on headphones when working in the studio, but headphone amplifiers are the first place that manufacturers usually look to cut costs when building an interface. Instead of using typical designs that cost mere pennies, Slate chose discrete amplifiers to ensure that your headphones sound robust and clear for all of your monitoring chores. Not just limited to quality headphone monitoring, Slate also added two separate monitor mixes and the ability to use the VRS8 as a monitor switcher.
Cross-platform low-latency performance
The world of audio interfaces is rarely cross-platform when it comes to performance, meaning that Mac devices using Thunderbolt usually far outperform PC interfaces using USB. While USB can be effective for two-channel designs, it requires more CPU overhead to manage, resulting in higher CPU usage and latency versus Thunderbolt—and the problem just gets worse as you add more channels. Unlike any other interface on the market, the VRS8 offers both Thunderbolt and PCIe connectivity for maximum cross-platform compatibility. The PCIe performance is the same as Thunderbolt. You can also link up to six VRS8’s via Thunderbolt to achieve 48 inputs and outputs. So buck up little PC campers, Steven Slate hasn’t forgotten you.
Native MIDI I/O
Slate Digital’s aforementioned “no compromise” design approach extended well into areas that other manufacturers simply ignore, which is evidenced by the VRS8’s native MIDI IO. Unlike USB MIDI interfaces (where MIDI information has to fight with your mouse, keyboard, and other USB traffic), MIDI IO on the VRS8 never touches the USB bus. You can count on hyper-accurate MIDI timing—and stuck sustain pedals when tracking keyboards and synths are now a thing of the past.
Slate Digital Everything Bundle FREE for one year
The Slate Digital Virtual Recording Studio Ships With A Year License Of The Everything Bundle. The Everything Bundle includes all of the award-winning Slate plugins, worth thousands of dollars. Using the VRS8 and VMS Microphones, you’ll be able to track through world-class microphones, preamps, equalizers, and more in real time. Not just everything that Slate puts out in plug-in form, it’s everything you’ll need for mixing in the box with world-class sound.
- Simultaneous analog I/O: 8 x 8
- Input channels: Eight
- Phantom power: +48V
- Analog inputs: 2 x 1/4" (line/instrument), 8 x XLR-1/4" combo (mic)
- Analog Outputs: 8 x 1/4"
- Headphones: 2 x 1/4"
- Thunderbolt: 2 x Thunderbolt 2
- Data I/O: 1 x HDMI (PCIe), Mix Link I/O
- MIDI I/O: In/Out
- Clock I/O: In/Out
- Software: Slate Everything Bundle (one year)
- Height: 1-3/4" (44 mm)
- Width: 19" (483 mm)
- Depth: 8-3/32" (206 mm)
- Rack Spaces: 1U
- Power Supply: 12V DC power supply (included)
- OS X 10.8.5 or later
- Quad Core i5 or higher
- 4GB RAM minimum
- Windows 7 SP1 or later
- Quad Core i5 or higher
- 4GB RAM minimum