Slate Digital has taken on the challenge to emulate the classic dbx 902 de-esser and released the FG-DS 902 plug-in for Virtual Mix Rack. Slate says that the FG-DS 902 plug-in delivers the same organic and natural sound as the original. How does it compare to other alternatives?
Slate Digital FG-DS 902
The dbx 902 came out in the early 80s and remains one of the most popular analog de-essers to this date. One of its advantages is that it doesn’t use a fixed threshold. Instead, it determines the required amount of de-essing by comparing the levels of the selected frequency and the full bandwidth signal. As a result, the de-essing is independent of the input level, which ensures musical and transparent processing.
The new FG-DS 902 plug-in from Slate Digital brings this classic de-esser to your DAW. Like the original, it lets you dial in any frequency between 800 Hz and 8 kHz. The mode switch, which toggles between the regular wide-band mode and a high-frequency mode, is also available. The range control serves to set the desired amount of de-essing (e.g. how much attenuation should be applied to detected sibilances). There’s also a virtual LED meter for displaying gain reduction.
In addition, Slate Digital has come up with a couple of features that weren’t available on the original. Instead of the bypass switch, the FG-DS 902 plug-in offers a mix knob for blending the processed and dry signals. There’s also an output level control, which helps with gain staging. And last but not least, Slate has added a button for previewing the affected portion of the signal, which is great for precise adjustments.
Just a few months ago, Lindell released its version of the 902 with many clever additions, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Slate FG-DS measures up – especially since it’s quite a bit more expensive.
Price and compatibility
The Slate Digital FG-DS 902 plug-in is available through the Slate All Access Pass subscription (which also includes about 75 other plug-ins), but you can also purchase the plug-in by itself. A monthly All Access subscription is USD 14.99 with a one-year commitment (USD 9.99 during the first six months). The month-to-month plan with no commitment is USD 24.99/month. If you pre-pay for a whole year, you pay USD 149. The perpetual license for the FG-DS 902 plug-in is also USD 149.
The plug-in runs on macOS 10.14 or higher and Windows 8 or 10 in AU, VST, VST3, and AAX formats (64 bit). For the All Access Pass, you’ll need an iLok account or dongle. Caution: The perpetual license requires an iLok 2 or iLok 3 dongle!