Review: Slam XL Channel Strip Plugin by BeatSkillz

Slam XL is BeatSkillz latest release, the successor of the highly acclaimed Slam Pro and Slam Dawg multi-FX plugins shaped for modern urban producers.

Slam XL comes with a redesigned interface, but also what’s behind is completely new. The engine has been redesigned, and everything is changed, from saturation types to fully controllable compressor, 3-band stereo expander to EQ unit – which leads to a completely different experience.

This plugin is mainly aimed at beginner and intermediate producers looking for a simple solution to achieve a commercial feel, that bold and colorful sound found in modern music. It is suitable for styles such as hip hop, trap, RnB, pop, urban dance, but also in EDM and progressive house.

Slam XL is a channel strip emulation for mixing and mastering purposes. It can be placed either on buses or on the mastering channel strip. It has all kind of effects you usually need during the post-production.

Structure

The interface is quite simple with its 4 main sections. From left to right we see EQ, Saturation, Compressor & Limiter and Stereo Expander. Each section can be turned on/off. Let’s take a look at each section closely and see what is all about.

EQ

The three-band equalizer features bass, mid and top (high) bands, plus on the left hand, we find a Q Control row to set the frequency width of each band. There’s also a frequency crossover selector for each one of the bands. At the bottom, there’s a high pass filter that lets you remove frequencies below three predetermined frequencies (30, 50 and 100 Hz).

Review: Slam XL Channel Strip Plugin by BeatSkillz
EQ section

Saturation

Moving on to the Saturation module, first thing we notice is a big saturation/drive knob, which sets of course, the amount of saturation. Slam XL comes with 6 saturation modes – from 1 to 6 you experience different kinds, from soft to aggressive. BeatSkillz says these saturation modes are emulated after real analog hardware and, in my opinion, they sound amazing. Underneath, the section is completed with Input, Output and Mix knobs.

Review: Slam XL Channel Strip Plugin by BeatSkillz
Saturation section

Compressor and Limiter

The Compressor unit sports Threshold, Attack, Ratio, and Release levels, while the Limiter section contains just one knob to set the amount and make your sound as loud as possible without losing quality.

Review: Slam XL Channel Strip Plugin by BeatSkillz
Compressor & limiter section

Stereo Expander

Down in the right, we find a 3-band Stereo Expander with Low, Mid and High stereo width knobs, from where you can narrow or widen the stereo image. A simple application for it would be to “mono-ize” the kick or bass in order to make room for them in the mix, widen the high hats, pads etc for a fuller sound –  the possibilities aren’t limited here.

Review: Slam XL Channel Strip Plugin by BeatSkillz
Stereo expander section
You can also buy Slam XL at Plugin Boutique

Conclusion

Slam XL is fun to use, simple, and with a few tweaks, it can bring to life your mixes and fatten up your sound. I think this tool would be perfect for producers looking for a simple and efficient solution to work with every day. If you’re new to production or usually rely on factory presets, keep in mind that Slam XL brings an impressive library with tens of presets split across categories such as Bass, Drum Bus, Guitars, Horn Section, Mastering, Percussion, Strings and Synth & Keys.

I especially like the Saturation section, which in my opinion is the heart of Slam XL. The six saturation modes are same time different and engaging, also the analog sound they deliver feels true and solid. The entire plugin concept is well done, stripped to the basics but capable of fantastic results. I would definitely recommend Slam XL to any producer looking for a friendly solution to achieve the contemporary sound.

If you want to see the plugin in action, watch the video below, where our colleague Ian Ross is taking SlamXL on a spin:

Slam XL is available now at BeatSkillz and is on sale. For a limited time, it costs $79 USD instead of $149 USD. Some cool discounts are available for previous owners. If you own Slam Pro, then Slam XL will cost you only $49, and if you own Slam Dawg, get Slam XL at $69. Details on their website.

More information: BeatSkillz

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