Slate Raven 2.0

Slate Raven 2.0
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The software update has had Mike Aiton thumbing his thesaurus for superlatives.

Slate Media Technology has released an update for its Raven multi-touch virtual console. For those of you who have been behind a rock for the past nine months, the Raven is a multi-touch screen controller and virtual mixer, so far released for Pro Tools and for Logic, with other DAWs in development.

The team has been quietly rebuilding the foundations from the ground up for the ‘all new’ version 2 software and beyond, as in development they kept discovering better ways to implement all their exciting new ideas. I can only imagine how much fun the ‘what if’ meetings were.

Raven 2.0 now sports a batch command system – via a single button you can execute combinations of up to 1,000 key commands, mouse clicks, or menu selections. This is purpose-built bespoke integrated software. Slate has thoughtfully included a comprehensive set of pre-made commands that you will find very useful. This is not just a set of buttons so that you can activate Automation Preview, create a new playlist without reaching for your mouse, etc (although stuff like this is nicely included), but it goes way beyond and includes multi actions.

Slate resets the bar here and is going to turn your world upside down. An example of a multi-action would be to set up a headphone mix for a tracking session, where it would: create a stereo Aux, select a series of tracks, create a headphone send, copy the fader level to the send level – all with one button! Need to export your session to someone else who doesn’t have Pro Tools? Hit one button and watch Pro Tools select each track and bounce to disk sequentially while you either regale the client with your “when I met Hendrix” stories or just show them the latest YouTube cat videos. The Raven does all the tedious work for you in the background. “Now that’s what I call Cattitude”!

All the Batch Command buttons and layouts are freely customisable and you are able to program your own workflow time savers and put them on your own layouts. I can really see the opportunity for a healthy community of batch command and button layout sharing developing and thankfully Slate Media Technology has thoughtfully created a new Raven User Forum on its website. There is even a place to put photos of your studio set up.

While showing this software to James Ivey of Pro-Tools-Expert, it really struck me how different the worlds of music and post are, as we got excited about completely different batch commands and buttons. James was raving (sorry about the pun) about all the playlist short commands that would obviate the need for a mouse, whereas I was going misty eyed over the one button ‘back and play’ or ‘view next’ and ‘view previous plugin’. There really is a wealth of great stuff here. Slate Media Technology has created a set of batch commands for General use, for Music and even or Post Production. Any user-designed batch commands get saved into a User section.

Other parts of the software update that may just escape your notice (due to the audio world’s batch command feeding frenzy) are that the internal mixer (where the Raven mixer integrates itself graphically with the Pro Tools mixer) has a new way of working with Pro Tools 11. It now supports colours all the way down the channel, displays the Pro Tools dynamics and meters better and, best of all, supports mixed track widths so that post-production sessions with stereo, LCR, and 5.1 tracks can all intermingle happily. Great stuff – this really has made my day.

The faders algorithm has been even further improved with even better response and accuracy – why? Because they can! I have always loved the ability to go into fine fader mode and write minute fader moves with big sweeping gestures. ‘Eat that’ mechanical faders!

The toolbars have also had a quick juggle around and the floating window now includes some nifty buttons that change according to your layout. Another new feature most welcome is the two-finger navigation, both vertically and horizontally.

For me the only Achilles heel is the scrub implementation on the touch pad, but rest assured the development team are well across this and are beavering away.

Conclusion

We are all familiar with Steven Slate’s desire to push the boundaries of the audio world and he shatters many myths and pre-conceptions in a very productive way, but by Jove I think he and his team, captained by Matt Dodge, have trumped themselves here. Slate Media Technology has clearly defined that they are a company that for has vision and delivers that vision. For me, they have an Apple-like ability to make you enjoy what you are doing with their technology, and they have put the fun back in audio. If you never wanted a Slate Raven before, you should want one now after reading this. This is a product that not only is improving, but is redefining the way we work in audio. There is a new better in town and Slate’s new marketing motto should be “Good, better, best... Slate.”

Now have you seen the video where the cat….”

The reviewer

Mike Aiton was weaned at the BBC. But after breaking free nearly 20 years ago and becoming one of London’s busiest freelance dubbing mixers, he can mostly be found in his Twickenham dubbing suite, Mikerophonics. In his spare time he takes therapy for his poor jazz guitar playing and his addictions to skiing and Nikon lenses.

www.slatemt.com

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