Studio Electronics Slate Pro Audio Dragon

1-channel FET Compressor/Limiter with VU Meter
Studio Electronics Slate Pro Audio Dragon image 1
Studio Electronics Slate Pro Audio Dragon image 1
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Studio Electronics Slate Pro Audio Dragon
Special Order

This Baby Breathes Fire!

You can't fix what's not broken, but that doesn't mean you can't put your own spin on it! Slate Pro Audio's Dragon does exactly that, taking the classic FET compressor circuit from the '60s and '70s, and enhancing it up to mastering-grade specs. So, how does Slate Pro Audio push the FET compressor standard with the Dragon? It all starts with a Class A output section based around a custom-made transformer that imparts a rich, warm quality to your audio, but it can turn aggressive if you so desire.

No one wants a 1-trick pony in their rack, and the Dragon uses its three character settings to shape the sound to what you're tracking. The aptly named "Boom" setting adds sub-bass harmonics to make basses and kick drums thicker and fatter than you thought possible. "Bite" is more universal in its application, pushing bass, snare, vocals, and guitars forward in the mix. Looking to add an airy shimmer to your tracks? Engage the "Sheen" setting, which responds much like the classic opto tube compressors and is great for vocals, acoustics, and overheads. Better yet, the Dragon can use all three settings simultaneously!

Slate Pro Audio knows a little something about drum sounds (after all, they're the brains behind Steven Slate Drums!). Push the Dragon's "Vintage" button to transform the sound into a more vintage-y sound, with the perfect blend of harmonics and grit. Perfect for electric guitars and bass, this setting also really shines on drums! And just for more sonic variety, the Dragon has a 3-setting saturation selector. Add anything from subtle harmonics to gritty distortion by varying the setting. A lot of fun to play around with, the saturation selector makes everything sound better!

You know how some compressors overreact to bass content in the source material? The Dragon conquers that with a highpass filter that limits the amount of low end that is fed into the detection circuit. This is helpful on mix bus applications where you want more transparency. And speaking of compressing the mix bus, the Dragon succeeds where most FET compressors have failed (too much color and too much aggression). The Dragon compensates for this with a subtle 2:1 setting that works wonders on full mixes. Here's a hint: use the 2:1 setting with the "Sheen" setting and hear your mixes come alive!

One of the most famous FET compressors was popular for its "All Buttons In" setting. Engage the Dragon's "Squash" setting and hear the classic "All Buttons In" sound being applied to your drums, making drums sound bigger than life while avoiding the harshness that frequently accompanied the original unit. The icing on the Dragon's cake is the Mix knob, which lets you dial in the perfect wet/dry ratio, as well as engage such classic studio tricks as parallel compression.

Slate Pro Audio Dragon Dynamics Processor Features at a Glance:
  • Classic-style FET compression/limiting
  • Use 3 character settings individually or simultaneously for different flavors
  • Great for drums, guitars, vocals, bass, and more!
  • Covers everything from subtle compression to highly colored squashing
  • 1 x TRS and 1 x XLR I/O plus 1/4" TS connection for stereo linking
  • Highpass filter limits the amount of low end being fed into the detection circuit
You get powerful dynamics processing from Slate Pro Audio, with the Dragon!

What Does "Special Order" Mean?

A special-order product is one that we don't normally keep in stock. We order it from the manufacturer as soon as you order from us. We have great relationships with all the manufacturers we carry, so we can get your special order to you as fast as or faster than anyone else. Remember that special orders are non-returnable and non-cancelable, so make sure the item is right for you. A Sweetwater Sales Engineer can help you decide — call (800) 222-4700 for assistance!

Additional Media

Signal Processing Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Type FET
Number of Channels 1
Controls Input, Compression, Attack, Release, Output, Hi Pass, Saturate, Mix
Ratio 0 to 20:1
Inputs 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4"
Outputs 1 x XLR, 1 x 1/4"
Rack Spaces 2U
Height 3.5"
Width 19"
Manufacturer Part Number Dragon

Customer Reviews

Based on 11 reviews
Write your review

Intoxicating, alluring, seductive, addicting!!!

I have been at the professional recording and Radio/TV broadcast engineering game since the summer of 1969. Used every type of genuine 1176 versions many, many times over the years. Also own some Purple Audio MC77's, best sounding 1176 remake on the market in my opinion (and a few thousand other's too). I also have Distressors racked up which are unique in their own right. Now, enter the Dragon!! This thing is just amazing!!! It sounds absolutely stunning!!! So take the basic 1176 circuit, meld in some incredibly useful and powerful features, pump your program material through this unit, tweak and fiddle the controls a bit, and prepare yourself to be thoroughly hypnotized by the absolutely stunning results presented to you. I don't get too many "wow" moments at my age, but WOW, the Dragon has totally seduced me into its heavenly sonic garden of delights. Just as the LA-2A, 1176, and Distressor EL8 have become defacto studio standards and have remained the top three most widely used compressor-limiters of all time in the professional recording world, so shall the Slate Dragon own its place along side those formidable dynamic processors to become a true defacto studio standard as more and more folks experience its phenomenal sonics. Once you've auditioned a Slate Dragon yourself, I'm pretty confident you'll be intoxicated by its alluring, seductive, and highly addictive sound, and you won't be able to relax until you own one (or two or three or ...)!!
Music background: Recording since 1969


This thing is impossibly good. Extremely transparent for vocals. I was PEGGING the gain reduction on a vocal the other day while tracking and it simply sounded finished and perfect. No need to run multiple compressors on vocals with this. And the tone options are just plain fun.
Music background: Music Producer


This is simply the best compressor I've ever used. Even the fact that this is only a mono channel compressor does not take points away. I have been using this compressor every day for the past few weeks as I work on mastering an album for a local band, and it has brought so many small details that I'd never heard in the tracks I'd been working on. I cannot imagine another project without this on it. I'm already working on ordering my second unit for stereo operation.
Music background: Recording/Mixing/Mastering as well as active musician

Well, Dang!

I knew it was good before I actually used it. I went to a demo at Blackbird where Steven Slate demonstrated it and put it up against one of Blackbird's favorite 1176's. But when I finally got to use it I was even more impressed. Tracking with parallel compression? Check. Quick and easy EQ settings? Check. Ability to run clean or colored (via "Vintage" and "Harmonics" sections). Check. This thing has quickly replaced my Distressors as the first compressor I reach for. Everyone I've worked with recently is blown away by the vocal sounds we're getting. And it's a beast on a mono drum mic!
Music background: Recording Engineer, Producer


One of those pieces that seems to find its way into every signal chain I set up these days. Versatile. Deifnitely has the beating heart of an 1176, but hugely flexible. At first I was averse to the EQ options onboard, thinking "That's the last thing I need is more switches and EQ options where they don't belong in the chain" but boy did I change my tune quick. Extremely musical tweaks just sound natural - get your squeeze on a bass through this and you'll feel it in your gut, back it off and use it for subtle vocals is beautiful, and it can slam when you want it to. Had to calibrate the meter when I got mine, but no problems. Love to squeeze my tracks a little harder then back off the blend to 25% or so - incredible flexibility and speed of workflow. The Distressor has been lonely since this unit showed up, and I don't think I'm just drunk on it - this is going to be a staple in my rack for years and years to come. I'll venture as far to say that this will eventually become a modern classic.

Sweetwater Advice

Stuart Niven

I just got a Dragon bolted into my outboard rack, and a second unit is already a planned purchase. This is no ordinary compressor! Reminiscent of the UA 1176LN, and as flexible as the Distressor, the Dragon is an AMAZING tool for both tracking and mixing. By redesigning and building on the basic elements of the 1176 and adding some great features such as the "Vintage" setting (my favorite ) and a "Saturation" Mode ( addictive ) Steven Slate has created a truly revolutionary compressor that will help you shape, create, and sound like never before. The output stage is a very "vintage Neve" sounding, transformer-based signal path that just sounds amazingly warm and rich, adding a vibrant analog vibe to anything that you touch with it. From gentle compression to absolutely pegging the needle down, it sounds delicious. This is a must-have compressor to have in your arsenal of gear, especially in this digital world. Nothing makes an sound sit in a mix better than a real analog box with real transformers and "vibe!

Josh Estock

If I was stranded on a desert island and could only choose one compressor to sustain my dynamic needs for the rest of my days, the Slate Pro Audio Dragon would be my choice! This compressor will do nearly anything, plus you can chain two together for stereo compression. The "Mix" control is a godsend. No need to setup aux sends. It has parallell compression built-in! Buy this. You won't regret it!
See also: Compressors, Studio Electronics, Studio Electronics Compressors / Limiters, Studio Electronics Compressors / Limiters