Beatskillz, the maker of Slam Dawg, Valvesque, and a lot of other well-loved plugins, is the brainchild behind Slam Pup, a free tube driver and compressor plugin. Dubbed as “warm and loving to its owner ..” yet “aggressive to strangers,” Slam Pup promises to put your mix into beast mode with its versatile tube drive and compression power.
As the name implies, Slam Pup is a petite version of Beatskillz’s Slam Dawg, which is an altogether different animal. But don’t be fooled by the name: Slam Pup means serious business. A single instance of the Slam Pup can add some bite to your sound. Moreover, the drive and the compression algorithms used in Slam Pup processes the sound intelligently and efficiently, so it always comes out sounding good even without prior seasoning.
Specs and features
As you would expect from a free plugin, Slam Pup is a simple tool with very limited features. It only has two knobs: a “Bark” knob and a “Bite” knob. The Bark knob controls the level of the tube drive while the Bite knob controls the compression. We’ll give Beatskillz plus points for creativity, that’s for sure.
The Bark knob, as a tube drive controller, is based on Beatskills’z favorite British multi-stage saturators. It gives the sound a “filling and fattening” effect that gives your sound more presence and energy.
On the other hand, the Bite knob is based on the company’s favorite American Compressor. The compression, Beatskillz claims, is “thrusty.” We’d have to agree that the compression does give the sound more gravity, enabling audio to punch through the mix without sounding too overbearing.
The plugin’s simple interface has five controls overall, including Input gain and Output gain (inf to +4 dB) and a dry/wet slider.
Such simplicity makes it easier for producers to look for that sweet spot when they are trying to get the most out of their audio signal. The Bark and Bite controls seem to use some adaptive under-the-hood algorithms to handle all sorts of signals. New producers will also appreciate the accessibility of this plugin – all it takes to get a good sound is common sense and a reliable set of ears.
We can’t help but be reminded of FL Studio’s classic Soundgoodizer (mentioned in our picks for top FL Studio plugins) which does pretty much the same job as Slam Pup. Sound-wise, the two seem to be just at par with each other. But we’ll have to give Slam Pup some praise for the extra work put into the presentation. It’s hard to hate on a plugin that uses all these dog imageries.
In terms of the actual performance, we’d have to say that Slam Pup does its job really well. The Bark makes the audio signal as loud as possible without drowning out some important frequencies. Careful listening will also reveal that the effect also introduces some nice saturation across the spectrum. This effectively makes the transients more transparent so as not to jar the listener.
If you play with the knob, you’ll also notice that there is a bit of attack time before the saturation kicks in. Thus, the effect is gradual. We will also not be surprised if there is some automation going on under the hood to make it adapt to specific audio traits.
On the other hand, the Bite knob does a good job giving the sound that titular ‘bite’: it compressors the sound properly and makes it cut across the mix more effectively.
Of course, we don’t expect Slam Pup to assist you in your mastering duties. The lack of control over important parameters such as attack, decay, is certainly a big drawback.
Given the simplicity of this plugin, it seems that most users are satisfied. The plugin is also lightweight, so plopping multiple instances of Slam Pup across channels will not break your CPU.
Creative, powerful, and very lightweight, Beatskillz Slam Pup is a fine plugin, especially given the fact that it is free.
Where to get it
Slam Pup is available in Mac OSX, Windows, and PC in VST3/AU. It is available for free download at Plugin Boutique and at the Beatskillz’s website.