Got mine yesterday and have now played around with it a little while... I've just re-read my post and should probably have spent more time playing with the Duende rather than writing this enormously long post. I apologize in advance and warn you: it's like reading Slipperman's entries only without the insights... Great - I bet you can't wait...
First of all on the technical side there are certain problems here and now, such as in Logic the bypass switch on the plug doesn't work and there are issues with offline bouncing such a small dropouts sometimes.
I am not surprised by this - the software is version 1.0.0 and I am sure that an update from SSL's website is very much on the cards - the fact that the installer from the cd in bright read colours suggests that you check the SSL website for updates prior to installing seems to indicate as much.
So please let us not turn this thread into 'the should have fixed it prior to release' SSL-bashing. We all know how these things work with logistics surrounding shipping etc etc and from what I'm told firewire is a notoriusly fickle beast to tweak in relation to things like this. And the only reason I am mentioning all this here is for the benefit of those of you who need to have something that works NOW due to deadlines etc. I suspect a week or two will change things quite a bit.
Amongst the good news is that at least on my system the Duende seems to be happily co-existing with my powercore pci mk1, powercore pci mk2, powercore firemire and UAD-1 cards. Given the history on some systems of problem between the TC and UAD cards, I was a little concerned that the Duende would throw another dsp-card spanner in the mix but my initial observations are very positve.
Also the Duende doesn't seem to introduce too much added idling-pressure on my G5. I haven't tried maxing everything out 100% but on a project with all my powercores AND the UAD-1 maxed out using about 65% of the power on the Duende everything played along just about as it did without introducing the Duende. Apart from an obvious addidtion to the sound, that is.
Baring in mind that this is very much a preliminary rapport and that I haven't been mixing with the Duende as such but only 'knobbing about' my first impressions are that it has a sound that I would desribe as similar to the Waves SSL but with more depth, punch and weight. I haven't worked enough on SSL desks to say whether this is due to the modelling talent of waves versus SSL or it's the difference between the 4000 series and the 9000/C200 take on things but the Duende reminds me more of the Sony Oxford especially in the way it deals with transients - which for me has always been one of the great things about the Sony Oxford stuff.
However it doesn't sound like the Sony Oxford per se... it's just a generic way of trying to describe the difference in feel. Those of you who remember some years back will know what I mean when I say it reminds me of the difference that (used to?) exist between Native and TDM - there's just a solidity about the Duende/Sony stuff that to my ears is less obviously present with the native stuff. YMMV and this might well be down to me not having the right native plugs in the first place...
The eq has a very analogue sound (here we go again... sorry.,!!) by which I mean that it just sounds like you're adding more top end rather than tweaking an eq and the phase smear that happens sounds very 'natural' and analogue to me. And the sonic difference between the two types of eq included is obvious.
The channel comp. to my ears has quite a bit more punch than the Waves - again espcially noticeable on more dynamic source material with loads of transients (drums, bass, acoustic guitar etc) and is as you would expect VERY easy to work with. Sure there will be times when the attack settings are either too fast or too slow and as we all know there is no in between here... but hey, that's why we've got different plugs.
The buss comp sounds like I would expect it to. Slightly 'bigger' sounding that the waves - whether it will hold its own against the real thing time (and no doubt countless a/b-ing) will tell. But it sure sounds like an SSL bus comp - or at least like a digital version of it
All in all I am very excited by the SSL Duende. Being on a Dual 2gig G5 which I tend to spank quite heavily when I'm mixing, I am happy I held out for The Duende and didn't get the waves plugs. The Duende isn't the be all and end all, but I think it's quite a significant step in the right direction for us ITB people.
I'm sure that as it's always the case with emulations certain colours in the sound will emerge after a while that in some years will make us recognize the Duende sound and possibly question how we could POSSIBLY live with that for making music. I still remember people running out and selling their Fender Rhodes pianos when the DX7 came out. I also remeber myself selling my Blackgace Deluxe Reverb because it was obvious that the Mesa Boogie Quad Preamp and power amp into 2 EV's sounded exactly the same - if not better.... It just NEVER sounds just like the real thing does it - not for very long anyway...
But for now it sounds fantastic and I can't wait to incorporate it properly. One of the things that really struck me when demoing the Waves plugs was how quick they were to work on. The Duende is obviosly the same - it's the same interface (more or less). In a way the 'problem' with the Sony stuff is that they can do almost everything and are so tweakable that you can get lost in them. On the plus side: when you know them well they can do a LOT of different things. The Duende only does the SSL thing, but.....