Slam Pro is the latest in a line of products from BeatSkillz aimed at electronic music producers. We investigate.
BeatSkillz is a Los Angeles-based audio software company specialising in plugins aimed at electronic music producers. The company’s latest offering, Slam Pro, is a ‘mix phattener’ which combines elements of compression, saturation, EQ stereo widening and sub-bass enhancement to act as an all-round mix processor.
Slam Pro could be viewed as a natural successor to one of the company’s previous products, Slam Dawg, which was released in the summer of 2015 and created by the same team of developers, led by Gaurav Dayal. Whereas the Dawg is an entry level unit, the Pro (true to name) is a significant upgrade with more wide-ranging possibilities. Trends in the market suggest a resurgence in popularity of all-in-one units and Slam Pro fits nicely within this category. Possibly developed with EDM producers in mind but lending itself to all styles of dance music, it provides a solution for mastering or for processing individual elements within a track.
Slam Pro offers control over an extensive range of separate processor types: Bass (with independent Sub, Thump and Boom controls), Heat (three types of saturation), Airz (adding clarity and presence via high-shelf EQ), Pop (a multi-mode compressor), Crush (loudness enhancement) and Stereo Expander. BeatSkillz describe it as a “simple yet powerful” tool, which is certainly true. With a very intuitive learning curve, I found it easy to apply, with immediately noticeable results across both the individual stems and master out.
Applied to an 808 bass sound, Slam Pro demonstrated an instant impact within the mix. Amongst the presets, one finds a number of settings geared towards sub bass in particular. Just dialling in a small amount of extra Thump and Boom enhancement will generate
As a result of this immediate impact, Slam Pro can feel a little destructive on the master bus. I found it to be at its most effective on a drum bus or instrument group channel. The Heat control in particular is effective at adding thickness and weight to sounds, with the three saturation modes providing a useful range of flavours.
I found that each element of the plugin adds something quite different, yet the various sections complement each other well, with the multi-band stereo widening option and wet/dry control for instant parallel processing effects rounding out what amounts to a true multi-purpose processing tool.
There are very few weaknesses. The layout and design is simple and will appeal to those who prefer to use ears and not eyes to process their sounds. There is a simple gain reduction meter to monitor the impact of compression added via the Pop section, but visual feedback is otherwise limited. While there’s a lot to be said for visual simplicity, I found the on/off buttons and the lights above the Crush switch slightly confusing. Perhaps numerical readouts for parameter settings could also help imrpove accuracy when dialling in sounds. For the price of $149, one might also expect more presets.
Tiny criticisms aside, Slam Pro makes it easy to implement effective changes to any mix. I wouldn’t consider it as a surgical tool for the master bus but more a plugin to add character, personality and a touch of something different. At $79 (until the end of September) it’s a great addition to the studio. After September, its RRP will be $149. Beatskillz are currently offering a free copy of the company’s Slam Dawg plugin when purchasing.
The Final Word
Simple, fun and effective. Slam Pro isn't the most precise tool, but it gets highly useable results.