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Kramer MPX vs Slate VTM
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SpencerWalters
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#1
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Kramer MPX vs Slate VTM

Hey guys,

I currently own Kramer MPX. I'm happy with it for the most part, but I don't feel that it 100% emulates tape. If I use Kramer MPX on every track in a session then listen to some of my favorite records that were recorded to tape the saturation, compression, and noise doesn't have the 3D quality that real tape has. (I've never worked with tape) I am wondering if I should spend $250 on the new Slate VTM if it sounds much better than the Kramer MPX. I know they model two entirely different machines.

What do you guys think?
Is it worth the $250 if I already have the Kramer?


Also, I have the Waves NLS and I love that!

-Spencer
#2
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Download the dry and wet audio demos and see how close you can get with the Kramer.
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21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Is the crossgrade offer still on? if so you can get it for less than 250 notes.

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21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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The Kramer and the VTM are apples vs oranges. The old Ampex is a very colored machine compared to more modern tape machines and has a much narrower "sweet spot." Most people never used more than three tracks and maybe ten of us in the world ever used an 8 track based on that design. It's the sound of the '50s - '60s and not the sound of 8, 16 and 24 track tape in the '70s-'90s.The old tube Ampexes have a sound I love and waves really nailed a specific machine and tape but it's not something to mindlessly throw on every track. Something a lot of us did in the '70s and '80s was to intentionally use a different kind of machine and tape for mixing than the multitrack to minimize the build up of colorations. There can be a real synergy between an old Ampex and a more modern multitrack.
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#5
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
  #5
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The VTM on most settings rolls off high end which is something I just do not need that often. It gets pretty edgy when pushed even a little so I guess the saturation is digital sounding to my ear. The Kramer has more of a heavy "blurring" effect when pushed and to my ear is not as edgy distortion wise, especially considering it is not rolling off as much of the highs. I love the slap back and echo addition on the Kramer. It does remind me of real tape echo. The Kramer can work to fatten up bass guitars, kicks. It seems to add nice color to just about anything that is distorted, and on some vocals.

The VTM is very CPU intensive. For me the harmonics are rather dull when not being pushed. I listened to the demoes using the VTM on the Slate site and here and frankly to me they still sound like ITB same old same old. Not even close the the supposed analog they are advertised to so faithfully reproduce. I found little use for the VTM - but thats me. I analyzed the eq curve and can see maybe why ITB folks like it. I guess rolling off the highs the solution to ITB woes. You can add the bass boost which is all well and good, but it has no control of the curve, frequency or other things that would make it much more flexible. Its like the bass boost button on a boom box.

Mixing to great 2 track tape machines is a pleasure and that is what I hoped the VTM was about but it is after all subjects to our digital converters so its really not tape or analog. I guess that is a fantasy I need to address. Some people love the VTM but the same happened with the Kramer and now some of the very same people are saying the Kramer is useless and the VTM is much better. We see these fads on GS all the time.

They are very different to me, and like I said I have no reason to use the VTM passed the demo date as it does not impress me.

I wish these companies would stop saying this stuff sounds like analog. To my ear its a whole different sound. Forgetting that marketing stuff, I get what works for me. I have no desire to upset anyone with this review. It's just my personal experience which may be a value to someone.
#6
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Yea exactly AudioSoundzz sums up what I thought too. That's why I would like to see a mix nob in the VTM plugin on future updates. VTM sounds a little edgy distorted in a bad way when pushed. I didn't get the VTM after the demo. I would treat VTM as a very useable saturation FX and plan on getting in the future if a Mix/Blend feature was implemented.

To be clear, I don't think MPX nor VTM works to enhance my mixing workflow when placed on the Stereo Master Bus from the start. However, using something hi-end like the Cranesong HEDD 192 on the Mast Bus to round off mixes does impart a musical quality to my mixes - to date, I have found a native au plugin that can replicate that sweet coloration from the Cranesong.

I don't mind VTM nor MPX, but since I already got waves Mpx for mixing/producing music I felt that I could live without VTM for now.

A currently missing mix/blend feature on VTM would let me dial in the sweet spot/tone that I'm after.

I'm not dissing VTM cos I do like the tone it offers. It's just that I'd prefer it to be less obvious in some cases.

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#7
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The Kramer and the VTM are apples vs oranges. The old Ampex is a very colored machine compared to more modern tape machines and has a much narrower "sweet spot." Most people never used more than three tracks and maybe ten of us in the world ever used an 8 track based on that design. It's the sound of the '50s - '60s and not the sound of 8, 16 and 24 track tape in the '70s-'90s.The old tube Ampexes have a sound I love and waves really nailed a specific machine and tape but it's not something to mindlessly throw on every track. Something a lot of us did in the '70s and '80s was to intentionally use a different kind of machine and tape for mixing than the multitrack to minimize the build up of colorations. There can be a real synergy between an old Ampex and a more modern multitrack.
Bob if it wasn't for you on this forum I wouldn't know diddly squat! Every post is a wonderful read. Thank you.
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#8
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mista min View Post
Bob if it wasn't for you on this forum I wouldn't know diddly squat! Every post is a wonderful read. Thank you.
That's so funny to read Bob's post. Last night, I used MPX on a Rhodes track, and used VTM on a drum buss. Magic! The combo on the right elements gave me what I have been looking for, for years in the digital realm.
Finally!
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#9
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
  #9
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Both have different flavors. If you can afford, go get both because they are great.
#10
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxMulderFBI View Post
Both have different flavors. If you can afford, go get both because they are great.
That's how people end up with so much crap that they don't use.
#11
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djanthonyw View Post
That's how people end up with so much crap that they don't use.
I use all different kinds of plugins that are all similar, but then not. It's always good to have options in the box.

#12
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djanthonyw View Post
That's how people end up with so much crap that they don't use.
Maybe you, but I sure don't.
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21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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I don't hear them as similar. Other than the GUI of spinning tape...the MPX is WAY more colored...way more distortion capable...for example, on a snare drum, it's not close--you want the MPX--as you can up the Flux and increase the "snariness" via distortion.

Meanwhile...the VTM is a "niceness/smoothness" plug in. Unlike other "tape emu" plug ins in history, what you DON'T want, is to abuse it. You want to gain stage just like you would with a given sound onto tape. You remember how to do that, right?
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21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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VTM half inch on GP9 at 30 ips does indeed sound like the tape machines I remember, the ones I couldn't afford so I am very glad to have the plug-in.
A simple A/B comparison with it on and off the mix bus is very revealing, and to me it really helps give dimension and tone to the mix, making it sound more like, dare I say it, analogue.
As others have mentioned, it seems VTM aims for a more subtle, clean, and realistic tape sound versus an over the top representation. Although the 456 at slower speeds is very coloured to my ear, and has some of the thickness I remember from the real thing in similar situations.
I also like the GUI and the user-adjustable parameters. I am a happy customer. YMMV.
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21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Thanks guys! I think I'm just going to stick with Kramer MPX for now. Most of what I record is very minimalistic acoustic music, so I doubt VTM would make a huge difference in my mixes. Perhaps I'm just pushing the MPX too much? I like using the emulated noise to further emulate the "tape sound" and when the noise is at 0db on the Kramer I feel like there is nearly no headroom. Does anybody know if the Kramer accurately emulated the noise floor at 0db? When I listen to recordings that were made on the Ampex 350/351 the noise floor isn't nearly as high.
#16
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Both Tape emu's are Fab! Using them in combination is even better. Stop comparing and get both. Learn their sweet spots and make great music!
#17
21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
I don't hear them as similar. Other than the GUI of spinning tape...the MPX is WAY more colored...way more distortion capable...for example, on a snare drum, it's not close--you want the MPX--as you can up the Flux and increase the "snariness" via distortion.

Meanwhile...the VTM is a "niceness/smoothness" plug in. Unlike other "tape emu" plug ins in history, what you DON'T want, is to abuse it. You want to gain stage just like you would with a given sound onto tape. You remember how to do that, right?
Have 'em both here. Could not agree more.
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21st July 2012
Old 21st July 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeka View Post
Have 'em both here. Could not agree more.
+1. Well said.
#19
22nd July 2012
Old 22nd July 2012
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[QUOTEI record is very minimalistic acoustic music, so I doubt VTM would make a huge difference in my mixes. Perhaps I'm just pushing the MPX too much? ][/QUOTE]

You likely shouldn't use either. But, Slate is much better suited. I can not imagine using the distortion of mPX on sparse acoustic music.

Lots of ways to get the noise. Want it without the color? add a new stereo (or mono-try both) track to your project...no audio...just the MPX. Adjust hiss to taste. Clean crisp digital sound. Plus tape hiss.
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#20
13th August 2012
Old 13th August 2012
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I bought an iLok2 just recently and demoed VTM. Bob Olhsson, you're right about how they sound VERY different. I think I'm just going to stick with the Kramer Tape for now, because the VTM was nice, but it didn't seem like a necessity. Kramer Tape does exactly what I want when I imagine "this thing needs some tape saturation" VTM reminds me of records I heard in the 90s. It has a very clear and perfected tape sound, which isn't a bad thing, but it's something I don't exactly NEED right now (especially for $250).

-Spencer
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13th August 2012
Old 13th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mista min View Post
Bob if it wasn't for you on this forum I wouldn't know diddly squat! Every post is a wonderful read. Thank you.
#22
13th August 2012
Old 13th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpencerWalters View Post
Hey guys,

I currently own Kramer MPX. I'm happy with it for the most part, but I don't feel that it 100% emulates tape. If I use Kramer MPX on every track in a session then listen to some of my favorite records that were recorded to tape the saturation, compression, and noise doesn't have the 3D quality that real tape has. (I've never worked with tape) I am wondering if I should spend $250 on the new Slate VTM if it sounds much better than the Kramer MPX. I know they model two entirely different machines.

What do you guys think?
Is it worth the $250 if I already have the Kramer?


Also, I have the Waves NLS and I love that!

-Spencer
Spencer,

You're making the assumption that the tape machine is the only thing that makes those records you love sound the way they do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you actually had the tape machines used on the records you loved you would still be disappointed. There is so much more to it than a tape machine or tape plugin.
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#23
14th August 2012
Old 14th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Spencer,

You're making the assumption that the tape machine is the only thing that makes those records you love sound the way they do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you actually had the tape machines used on the records you loved you would still be disappointed. There is so much more to it than a tape machine or tape plugin.
Yeah I know. Back when this machine was used everything was tube/transistor pres, well treated rooms, musicians recording live, U47 and U67s, etc...

It was quick for me to say that my recordings don't sound like recordings made on tape with Kramer Tape. I meant that when I listened to any recording made with a tape machine, they didn't resemble one another as much as I would have liked. After further research into it, I realized that it's because the Kramer MPX is a very old machine (like Bob Olhsson mentioned) and that I was listening to a lot of albums recorded on solid state 8, 16, 24 track. (Ryan Adams, Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes)

I think the Kramer Tape does it's job very well (as mentioned in the post above). I also think Slate VTM does it's job very well, but most of all I noticed that neither of them are going to give me a vintage sound without a vintage chain leading up to the tape machine.

Now I just need to find somebody who is willing to trade their U67 and 1073 for my soul!

- Spencer
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#24
14th August 2012
Old 14th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryst View Post
Spencer,

You're making the assumption that the tape machine is the only thing that makes those records you love sound the way they do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you actually had the tape machines used on the records you loved you would still be disappointed. There is so much more to it than a tape machine or tape plugin.
Absolutely if those old recordings were done to any current DAW they'd still sound amazing, I'd hesitate to say, maybe even better


MC


p.s. I own and use the kramer and the Slate VTM
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14th August 2012
Old 14th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norbury brook View Post
Absolutely if those old recordings were done to any current DAW they'd still sound amazing, I'd hesitate to say, maybe even better


MC


p.s. I own and use the kramer and the Slate VTM
well of course they would! Back then they only had 4 tracks and mixed in mono. Great songs translate through any recording medium. Gear is just gear.
#26
14th August 2012
Old 14th August 2012
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Yes I think we lose sight of that sometimes.

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16th August 2012
Old 16th August 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by popmann View Post
I don't hear them as similar. Other than the GUI of spinning tape...the MPX is WAY more colored...way more distortion capable...for example, on a snare drum, it's not close--you want the MPX--as you can up the Flux and increase the "snariness" via distortion.

Meanwhile...the VTM is a "niceness/smoothness" plug in. Unlike other "tape emu" plug ins in history, what you DON'T want, is to abuse it. You want to gain stage just like you would with a given sound onto tape. You remember how to do that, right?
+1
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#28
24th November 2012
Old 24th November 2012
  #28
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Originally Posted by mista min View Post
Bob if it wasn't for you on this forum I wouldn't know diddly squat! Every post is a wonderful read. Thank you.
Agree! Thanks Bob for this and all your insights.

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#29
20th February 2013
Old 20th February 2013
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first time posting!

visited to see what people were saying about the differences between MPX and VTM after having purchased and used both.

i agree that these are two very different sounds. i had MPX for about a year before i got VTM.

when i opened VTM for the first time, i expected that i'd be able to get similar saturation sounds when i really pushed into it like i did with the mpx, but found that the input doesn't really provide enough gain to get those levels of saturation.

as a result of the hype and slate video demonstrations, i was tricked into thinking other tape emulations were inferior and used it exclusively. after a couple of weeks using VTM on the master buss, i wanted to try out the MPX on the master buss for comparisons sake and i noticed one difference that was interesting. the MPX acts more like a digital brick-wall limiter than the VTM. when you start pushing the input up to +3, watch your master buss meter--it starts leveling off like a brick-wall limiter, yet it still sounds musical. this definitely helps raise RMS levels for those clients that want loud masters without losing musicality.

for the track i was working on, the MPX worked better. so much for VTM being 'superior'

since i started using the VTM, it seems that i don't use it to saturate things too much. i'll have the kick or snare peak red a bit on a drum buss for some styles of music, but otherwise, i'm leaving headroom.

generally, i'm looking to MPX for more creative sounds--saturation, extreme transient control, a vibe-y delay sound etc. it's great for 50's/60's sounding drums, guitars, vocals, bass etc and for louder tracks, i like it on the master buss. i'm looking to VTM for a clear sound. 2" on drum buss, thick guitars, bass, anything that needs that extra something. 1/2" on master buss thickens up the low end to me.

all in all, two great tools for the DAW.
#30
20th February 2013
Old 20th February 2013
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I've recorded on a Studer for 20 years and the only tape emulation plug-ins that are worth anything is UAD Studer and ATR102.
You really need to be able 'tweak' bias/speed/tape in order to get what analog can do.
Tape was never ever about just throwing it on a magic happens you have to know what to with a tape machine to get that sound and UAD is only one that can do it.
and yes I own Slate/Waves too.
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