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.
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
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!
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.
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
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’.
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.
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
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.
Dragon’s faceplate comes with a beautiful tribal mural designed by world
renowned tattoo artist Davey Suicide, and will add a unique beauty to your
rack. The striking look matches its remarkable sound.
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!
"Although rooted in the legacy
of an 1176, Dragon is fuller and rounder sounding than an 1176. The compression
can be aggressive without being pinched when more gain reduction is applied.
The compression distortion is replaced with a Neve-ish warming distortion, all
side chain effects, HPF and 3x tonal range boosts are very useful.
"Boom" on kick, bass or synth, "Bite" on snare or for a Bowie
acoustic and "Sheen" for sparkly air vocal."
Jeff Ehrenberg is co-owner of Infrasonic Sound in Los Angeles. He is also head of West Coast
Sales for Vintage King Audio.