Slate ML-1 Microphone: Get Creative with Slate ML1 Recording Hacks!

Slate's ML1 Microphone

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Price point-at the time of this article $799 new includes 8 microphone emulations.

I. Introduction

The Slate Digital VMS ML-1 Modeling Microphone is a top-of-the-line microphone designed for recording professional-quality audio. With its modeling capabilities and multiple emulations, the ML-1 is a versatile tool for capturing a variety of vocal tones. In this review, we’ll discuss the microphone’s strengths, weaknesses, and any recording hacks we’ve discovered using it.

II. Strengths

One of the key strengths of the Slate Digital VMS ML-1 is its modeling capabilities. With its multiple emulations, the ML-1 can replicate the sound of some of the most iconic microphones in the industry, from the classic Neumann U47 to the modern Shure SM7B. This allows you to achieve the desired tonal characteristics of a specific microphone without having to own or rent it. The ML-1 also has a flat, neutral response which allows for a clean and transparent recording, and it sounds amazing even without any of the emulations applied.

Another strength of the ML-1 is its build quality. The microphone is solidly built with a durable metal body, and the included shock mount provides excellent isolation from unwanted vibrations. The microphone also features a high-pass filter and -6dB pad switch on the back, which can come in handy when recording in less than ideal acoustic environments.

III. Weaknesses

One weakness of the Slate Digital VMS ML-1 is that it is advertised to require a specific preamp to fully utilize its modeling capabilities. While the microphone can be used with any preamp, to access the microphone’s full potential, its recommended to use the the Slate Digital VMS-One preamp or a similar high-end, clean sounding preamp. This additional cost may be a barrier for some users. Slate makes 2 different preamp models that are supposed to be used with the VRS8 and the VMS1. While these are excellent preamps, there are at least a few signs that Slate Digital will not be supporting (at least the VRS8) in the future, so there is a chance they will be obsolete. (See more about this in my upcoming review of the VRS8 interface)

A cool recording trick with the Slate Digital VMS ML-1 is to use its multiple mic emulations to create different textures. For example, when recording an acoustic guitar, you can:

1. Position the microphone as you normally would.

2. Record the track using your preferred microphone emulation.

3. Duplicate the track and choose a different mic emulation that complements the first one.

This trick allows you to create two different microphones with just one. Imagine the implications on this technique for other instruments like overheads! Since you’re only using one microphone, the source tone remains perfectly in phase with itself. While changing the mic model may affect the EQ profile of the amp and change the phase relationship, what matters most is achieving the best sound possible. Checking phase is always a good idea, but it’s not the most important factor.

V. Closing Thoughts

Overall, I love these mics, and here are my top bullet points.

-Even without the emulation software the mic sounds great and clear just as normal condenser mic on its own, so don’t be afraid to use it that way.

-Its modeling capabilities and build quality make it a worthy investment for any studio, and can be had for as little as $350 if you find a good deal on the used market (just make sure the deal includes the software license- but most do.)

-While it’s advertised to work only with the slate line of preamps I find that its not really a necessity. I have been using mine with my UAD Apollo unison preamps, which are very high quality and transparent and ultimately were designed with the same goal in mind as the slate pre’s. I personally haven’t compared the Slate Pre’s to UAD, UAD has its own mic modeling as well and ultimately there are no rules when dealing with audio production. If it sounds good IT IS GOOD!

-The Slate ML-1 might not replace a mic in the $8000 and up price range, its not that far off with a price point of around $400. If I get enough requests I will have to compare it to a real OG C12 or U67 though, so look out for that in a future review.

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