SSL. Even the E series is about to go up in value. The day of the tracking console is numbered. Get a bunch of Neve, API, etc... mic-pres (32 varied mic-pres total) and you're set for just about any session that comes your way.
As cool as the Vintage 'tracking' neve console is, they really are not that flexible in a mixing sense unless its an 8078 or some toher beastie of a neve console. Most of them have few few routing faciltiies and even few Aux sends etc. Also you run into the 'double FAT' thing where everything starts to chunk up like Oprah before her wonder amphetamine diets.
The mere fact that from tracking to mixing, on the neve i worked on the mic signal goes through the mic input Xformer, direct line out xformer, buffer transformers to the Aux and BALANCED inserts, fader line amps. That is nearly a minimum of 7 transformers in the signal path just for tracking!!!!!! Rupert loved his iron! and then when it comes to mix it the same except with the mic input tranny being subsitiuted for a line input and there are stereo buss transformer line drivers to drive the master recorder.
So whilst transformers subtley colour the sound when the signal goes throguh so many of them it colours and somewhat mangles a bit of the sound.. go Slippy!!!! hence all the PHATNESS associated with Neve... I think its an appropriate coloru for somethings but definately not all. Im a bit over the whole recrod/mixing on vitnage Neve and as sacriligious as it sounds im looking for something like the SSL option for mixing purely for the transparency, crunch factor and facilities it can offer during the mixing phase of a project.
In the Long run the SSL is a totally more flexible and commerically viable business option. Robotnik also got it right again insaying that even some of the dare i say it 'vintage' E series are becoming sought after for their particular sonic traits. Who would have thought it in the 80's and early 90's?
So Get an E that has been all tricked out and is in nice condition. Get an armload of wikid pre's comps, EQ. Im definately no officiando of the SSL and have only used one once! but many tell me that the blakc EQ is teh prefered one, so perhaps u can hunt one down with that?
The only thing caveat here is that if you are trying to open the room as a comercial entity there is a fair bit of gear that is almost taken as a given that goes along with an SSL:
Just to further Wiggy's post, I'd also add a couple of 1176's, a couple of Pultecs, 2 x DMX 1580 and even a Lexi 224.
As for the E series, I used one for a few years and (i'll go out on a limb here) but I preferred to E eq to the G series. You can put in a G+ automation so it doesn't fall over as often (and of course, it has much better functionality). Keep a few spare modules about and it should be fairly problem free.
I personally would get the API over the SSL anyday--especially the 4000E series, they sound too dirty for me. If you really like that sound by all means... Everything from the preamps the dynamic section, the eq just sound icky. The 2-bus compressor is the only thing that I somewhat like about it. If I was given an SSL I would have it sitting in the corner with the bus compressor module missing, getting more comfortable in my rack.
And I hope the automation system has been updated, or you plan on doing so after purchasing. Have you seen those HUGE floppies?
I know this probably isn't a popular opinion and more people know "SSL" than "API" but can anyone really argue that SSLs actually sounded good, before the 9000 series??
I'm just as big a fan of Neve as the next guy but if we're talking all around, overall, I would pick API for sound quality and versatility.
So far it seems that the SSL is a clear favorite for mixing. So with that in mind what configuration (computer, channel type, meters, automation, etc.) would be desirable for strong and somewhat aggressive rock/pop material.
I'm a bit surprised that the API Legacy Plus is not a stronger contender here.
I'd look for a 48-frame E-series (with the 2E242 "black" EQs) with G+ computer (v4.x) with Total Recal and VUs (the bargraphs burn out quickly). Add a few stereo channels as well. And, to add to the gearlist given above, consider getting Pro Tools (with at least 32 outs), Masterlink, quality AD/DA converter (PSX100), analog 2-track mixdown machine (1/4" or 1/2") if you don't already have them.
I will allways love NEVE!.. i just will and its what i learnt on and will allways track thorugh them, or at least track through modules etc. They really are the bomb for tracking. I really wouldnt like to make a whole album on a SSL, however i dont mind using a Neve to track everything. Yet i would prefer a clean desk to mix from.
As an one of my favoruite albums of all time 'The Stone Roses' was tracked 100% and mixed on an old E series cos ZOMBA had specified that to use their own studio. And i felt that as awesome that the album was, if it was tracked with better pre's etc it would take it another level sonic, but im just still picking the shit out of things. Still its the songs, so thats what really matters.
There are a fair few of the E series around. Again Mr Robotnik is right in saying that the G+ computer is the way to go. As mentioned again before i aint really had much miles on them but ive sat in on a few mixes and im not sure if you really will need TR, perhaps u can poll some more regular member to guage its usefull ness. If your felling really rich perhaps ultimation could be an idea.
Another reason i could use the SSL would be during mixing where the EQ is much more surgical so i can cut and sculpt things a lot better than the more broader and fatter Neve EQ. I like to boost with neve during tracking then then make space and cut the gnarly shit out with a finer EQ during the mix. also the flexibility would be much more conducive to mixing.
Again froma comerical point, an API really is not a commercial option in Australia. Its basically and SSL or Neve, which is shame cos the API would be an awesome thing but its more of a cult desk that sounds fantastic, but very few would know what it is. I figure that getting an API would be like getting a Helios or a Trident a Trident-A range where its really about a desk for u alone. Cos you would have to be pretty much married to it like a Vintage neve, just without the name and gearslutz boasting rights..lol
Another vote here for an SSL. If it wasn't for a commercial facility or you were not going to be running it yourself I would also suggest as Euphonix CS3000 or 2000. They sound fantastic and have been used by a lot of great artists/Producers including Glenn Ballard, Bruce Springsteen, Babyface, Trevor Horn etc to name a few. However they take a while to get your head around. The beauty of the SSL is that anyone can walk in the door and get mixing.
Custom made Daking with uptown automation. Eq and comp on every chn, and Geoff gets together with Wade from Chandler limited and hooks up a custom TG1 2 buss for the mix bus. Hey ...one can dream right?
Robo's post pretty much summed it up, but... Like I said I prefer Plasma meters (yeah, call me a wimp.... A WIMP THAT CAN SEE LEVELS ACROSS THE ROOM!). I've heard of them going at a budget of $150k these days. Man oh man. What should I buy: A cabin for piss cheap in the Big Bear Area or an SSL these days? Yeah right, like either will happen.
Maybe I'm just different, but if I had the cash to do a top of the line desk I'd get a Forssell console. It's got all of the bells and whistles plus it's very well built. I know that it doesn't have the name recognition but I trust that the sonics would be superior in every way.
Ok, I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but this is for Denial's benefit, and not to start a "purity of gearslutz" discussion...been there, done that.
Professional Audio Design is North America's exclusive factory authorized reseller of Pre-owned SSL consoles. We also carry Neve, API, and other Large format consoles. We currently have 7 4K consoles (all sizes), 2 6K and 2 9K consoles, plus others (Neve VR, Focusrite Studio 48, Tridents, Euphonix, etc.)
Give us a call, we have the best service dept in the industry (All SSL factory trained), and we can make sure you get the best console for your money.
PS: Would've emailed directly, but Denial's address isn't posted
SSL's rock for mixing and flexability. As stated before, they are also fairly easy to maintain. However if sonics are your main determining factor, I would suggest the API. All three are outstanding, but the preamps and EQ's in the API are S-I-C-K
we had to make the same decision a few months ago and we went for a 4056 G/G+. I know the E series EQ sounds different and some people prefer it. I also wished for flying faders over VCAs, but in the near future we will retrofit the console with the new THAT 2181 chips if necessary. Consider that most E series consoles by now are almost 20 years old. Replacing plasma meters can get very expensive. Also remember, unless it has the right processor card, the upgrade from G to G+ is not just few shekels. We paid $ 75K for ours and I considered this a good price. You could put the rest of your money into all of those things that WIGGY suggested. I am not sure about the AMX though - sounds a bit too 80s.... .
Oh and SONGHEAD, just to give you hell, I think your salespitch belongs in a PM.
Dude.. the ams RMX 16 is THE 80's ... but then agian so is an 'E' series.. so go figure.. i love the ams verb cos its really natural and nothing else sounds like it. IT's a very 'New Romantic' verb.
And how is your new SSL going Bernd G?.. will the THAT VCA's go into the automation signal path for more headroom and quieter noise floor and specs etc?
Has it increased you studio profile and or business?
I have found a cool weirdo SSL... a 5000 series that was used to do film. Im thinking long and hard about that one cos its VERY affordable and for purely mixing PT outputs im thinking it couls be a solution and then i really can hose the rest of the $$ on choice cuts of the finest outboard known to man.