Beatskillz has introduced Slam XL, the third generation of their Slam series. The channel strip plug-in picks up where Slam Pro left off and contains an equalizer, saturator, compressor/limiter, and stereo expander. Like its predecessor, it is meant to be your one-stop shop for fattening individual tracks and mixes – but it’s also a whole different animal.
While it does many of the same things as Slam Pro, Slam XL seems to follow a different philosophy. Slam Pro was more of a mix enhancer plug-in, which had the user fiddle with knobs mysteriously labeled “Thump”, “Heat” or “Airz” in search of the fattest sound. In comparison, Slam XL offers much more conventional controls for the EQ, dynamics and saturation, which means that the traditionalists among us will have a better idea of what’s actually going on. Does this mean that Beatskillz wants to expand its appeal beyond producers and appeal to the studio mixing and mastering crowd? Quite possibly.
One of the main visual differences from Slam Pro is the new circular level meter in the center. It provides visual feedback of the input and output levels, as well as gain reduction. The equalizer occupies the left half. The input and output gain controls, the saturator, and a wet/dry knob are located below the meter. The dynamics and stereo expander are to the right.
The EQ features three parametric bands with frequency and Q controls and a cut/boost range of 10 dB each. There is also a 12dB/oct. low cut filter with three selectable frequencies (20, 50 and 100Hz).
Beatskillz says that it captured “6 analog paths involving transformers, tubes, and transistors” for the saturation section. This means that there are six different flavors of saturation to choose from, which are adjustable with the saturation amount control.
According to Beatskillz, Slam XL’s compressor is designed to glue mixes together. There is no evidence of what type of compressor the dynamics section is modeled after, but it provides separate controls for threshold, ratio, attack and release. This makes it much more flexible and adjustable than Slam Pro’s preset compressor. There is also a limiter for increasing the perceived loudness without pumping.
Slam XL includes a 3-band stereo expander, which utilizes M/S processing. The crossover frequencies are adjustable, as is the stereo width for each band.
Beatskillz Slam XL is available for Windows (VST, AAX) and Mac (VST, AU, AAX). Right now, you can get it at an introductory price of US $79; the regular price will be US $149. Owners of Slam Pro and Slam Dawg can get it for US $49 or US $69, respectively.