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SSL mixing for Electronic Music
Old 18th December 2010
  #1
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SSL mixing for Electronic Music

So I'm a pro mixing and mastering engineer with an SSL desk. Based in Berlin, techno-paradise on earth.
While I'm coming from a heavy electronic music background and also mastering a lot of electronic music, mixing such music analogue on the SSL was a novelty for me. I don't know of any producers working in the traditional way (mixing with a mixing engineer in a mixing studio).
Until the last days.
I was trying what it would be like together with a rather well known Berlin-based producer.
He basically prepared the mix ITB as always and then gave me all the bounced tracks. We then mixed those in PTHD->ApogeeDA16X->SSL AWS900. On the main bus I used SSL bus comp -> Tubetech CL2a -> MassivePassive. For FX mainly TC6000 + Soundtoys.
But he also printed his own FX tracks.

It came out really nice. I have to say the sound of the modern SSL consoles (9K, Duality, AWS) is really perfectly suited for elecronic music. Clean, punchy, wide and deep.
Also funny that you can turn an 808 kick almost into a 909 kick with the SSL channel comp.

While I know that for most people it's maybe out of reach financially, it is something we want to do regularly now.
For me it's really fun and something 'new' to work on, for him it's nice to have a mixing engineer bringing another perspective, mastering grade acoustics and monitoring, plus nice tools to the table.

Well, just wanted to share my enthusiasm!
Old 18th December 2010
  #2
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MusicProducer's Avatar
 

Cool . What is the exact SSL you are mixing on? And price?
Old 18th December 2010
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicProducer View Post
Cool . What is the exact SSL you are mixing on? And price?
SSL AWS900.
You can find the price via google.
Old 18th December 2010
  #4
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T.R.'s Avatar
 

Yes, it can come out nicely. But on the other hand, it is not suited for every electronic genre there is- at least according to my experience. Could you tell us a bit more? I would be heavily interested to listen to the difference it makes.

And by the way, the loading progress bar of your MLaudio- site is the best I've seen so far for a music- related bussiness.

All the best!
Old 18th December 2010
  #5
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I find that every type of music benefits from being mixed through a nice console and using great outboard. Pure ITB productions tend to come out pretty bland and lifeless sounding IMO.
Old 18th December 2010
  #6
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mike vee's Avatar
no dude that's not true....there are tons of awesome ITB mixes coming out...

That said, I will maybe never own an ssl console but I try to use as much SSL as possible...I own their converters, G-bus comp, preamps and EQs and duende and I love them.
Old 19th December 2010
  #7
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actually I agree that you can get very very good results mixing ITB.
I know, since I mix quite a lot ITB, too. Everything post-related f.e.

That being said, the stuff I get for mastering that is mixed by the Electronic Music producers themselves has often the same problems. Uncontrolled bass and nasty highs.
But those are not just results of mixing ITB, but mainly becuase of insufficient monitoring/acoustics and/or not enough experience in mixing.

But if everything else is on a high level, the tools can be the icing on the cake.
B&W 802D monitors help with hearing that icing.
F.e. the very subtle but ubercool bouncing you can get into a track by compressing the 2bus with the exact right release setting. The tubetech is great for that.

Another thing to consider is that mixing is a completely different process when working on a console. Which of course influences the outcome big time.
I'm at the very least much faster when mixing on my console without a screen in front of my face all the time.
Old 19th December 2010
  #8
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I'm more of the old, dirty sound desks guy, specially for electronic music and my type of music, but then i never mixed on the new ssl line .... i wish i could.. did you guys used automation on the console? did that run smooth all the way?
Old 19th December 2010
  #9
+1 Tell us more... Who's the producer mentioned?
Old 19th December 2010
  #10
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Any chance of posting sound demos?
Old 19th December 2010
  #11
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
So I'm a pro mixing and mastering engineer with an SSL desk. Based in Berlin, techno-paradise on earth.
diddlydoo
Funny coincidence, I live on the same street as your studio (well the one linked in your profile) and I've got an SSL desk also. Except mine's just an X-Desk. ;)
Old 19th December 2010
  #12
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Well the producer is called Benno Blome. His label is Sender Records (Meaning he is the label boss).

I won't post sound examples since those mixes are not released yet.

I didn't use analogue automation, it was not necessary in those cases. I did use quite a bit of Protools automation, written with the faders. Seamless with the AWS.
I don't know what details you guys want to know, just ask. I didn't use anything fancy beside the stuff already mentioned.
Old 19th December 2010
  #13
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BTW, cosmos, actually this whole thread is your sigline put into reality:

"Without collaboration the music is not beeing given its full potential. There is a reason that you have the talent, the producer and the engineer because each can worry about his own thing and they can collaborate on the final outcome. When music is done in a virtual vacuum it does not sound as good." Tom Bethel... amazing.

Old 20th December 2010
  #14
Lives for gear
SSL mixing for Electronic Music

Hi man, sounds interesting!

I'm alone amongst the producers I know in mixing on a tonelux system with good outboard, direct outs, patchbays and Aux sends etc the 'old fashioned way'

Most of my peers seem to use just hardware inserts, if at all.

For my post work of course ITB is more than capable, I just prefer real knobs for music!

Perhaps we can both afford that luxury because we do other work besides techno

I know sender well btw, I'm friendly with Efdemin and some of the other guys from Dial/Laid and of course Carsten has released on Sender.

Would be great to hear the release!
Old 20th December 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disco Cubist View Post
Hi man, sounds interesting!

I'm alone amongst the producers I know in mixing on a tonelux system with good outboard, direct outs, patchbays and Aux sends etc the 'old fashioned way'

Most of my peers seem to use just hardware inserts, if at all.

For my post work of course ITB is more than capable, I just prefer real knobs for music!

Perhaps we can both afford that luxury because we do other work besides techno

I know sender well btw, I'm friendly with Efdemin and some of the other guys from Dial/Laid and of course Carsten has released on Sender.

Would be great to hear the release!
I try to get all my music mixed on good outboard. I write and record what I can at home. Then I go to musicians studios and living rooms and mic them up there. Then edit it all back at home and then head out to a mix studio. The last 2 tracks I have mixed have been on an SSL g series and a trident desk with various outboard.

I feel quite alone in this process as well. Seems to be less and less common with non commercial releases! But I think I am getting better results that way.

For the music I make for TV I don't have the budget to go outside for my mixing but my own music gets special attention!
Old 20th December 2010
  #16
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It's funny to think about some of the setups people used back in the 80's and 90's to make music that is considered classic and still inspirational today. I mean, for instance, No UFO's wasn't mixed on an SSL console lol... neither was Magic Feet, or My Medusa, or Nude Photo, etc., etc...
Old 20th December 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomaudio View Post
It's funny to think about some of the setups people used back in the 80's and 90's to make music that is considered classic and still inspirational today. I mean, for instance, No UFO's wasn't mixed on an SSL console lol... neither was Magic Feet, or My Medusa, or Nude Photo, etc., etc...
Yes, but the great sounding stuff from the 90s was usually done in big studios with nice equipment. We're talking sonics here, not production or inspiration.
Old 20th December 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
Yes, but the great sounding stuff from the 90s was usually done in big studios with nice equipment.
Really, *only* the great sounding stuff from the 90's was done in big studios? Like what?
Old 20th December 2010
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomaudio View Post
Really, *only* the great sounding stuff from the 90's was done in big studios? Like what?
Chemical brothers, Massive Attack, Prodigy to name a few
Old 20th December 2010
  #20
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Like this for example:



You don't get this kind of sound mixing through a Mackie 1202.

I also think there aren't that many great sounding dance tracks, as most of the music was produced and mixed in humble bedroom studios. But a 909+101 through a Mackie and a dbx160 or whatever still sounds better than the current all-Ableton type of track to me...
Old 20th December 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Odey View Post
Chemical brothers, Massive Attack, Prodigy to name a few
I'm sorry, I thought Sender was more of an underground techno label. You're listing groups that had big label backing, and frankly I would consider these to be commercial dance music with Massive Attack covering a bit more ground than just dance music.
Old 20th December 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Odey View Post
Chemical brothers, Massive Attack, Prodigy to name a few
Yes, not restricting this to dance (or even more narrow techno) there are quite a few electronic productions mixed in great studios.

Right now it still makes the difference. Listen to Empire of the Sun's album, that's loads of great equipment at work.
Old 20th December 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kosmokrator View Post
I won't post sound examples since those mixes are not released yet.
Would you be able to run any older projects through that you are able to upload samples off? Maybe someone could upload a demo project that you could use?

It would be great if we could do a comparison with something like Duende / UAD / Waves + VCC.
Old 20th December 2010
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
Like this for example:



You don't get this kind of sound mixing through a Mackie 1202.

I also think there aren't that many great sounding dance tracks, as most of the music was produced and mixed in humble bedroom studios. But a 909+101 through a Mackie and a dbx160 or whatever still sounds better than the current all-Ableton type of track to me...
I don't care what they used to record it, if I heard that being played on a large system at a club or whatever, I would likely want to shoot myself.

If you have access to an SSL console, that's great. Can't hurt anything obviously. All I was doing was making an observation that good music can be recorded without $100,000 consoles. Most of the Detroit Techno was mastered at NSC, on equipment that you would probably consider inferior. Yet it has a timeless sound IMO.
Old 20th December 2010
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomaudio View Post
I don't care what they used to record it, if I heard that being played on a large system at a club or whatever, I would likely want to shoot myself.

If you have access to an SSL console, that's great. Can't hurt anything obviously. All I was doing was making an observation that good music can be recorded without $100,000 consoles. Most of the Detroit Techno was mastered at NSC, on equipment that you would probably consider inferior. Yet it has a timeless sound IMO.
I like that track. Not really club material however.

I don't think an SSL console is necessary. They're not even the best, there are several manufacturers that made better sounding consoles IMO. And you can get by with a well-tweaked smaller console easily.

The point is that the gear should be of a certain quality and gets the important stuff right. This translates into audible sonic advantages.
Old 20th December 2010
  #26
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OK, sadly also this thread turns into a 'yesNoYesNo'-****fest. Well, that's Gearslutz in a nutshell I guess.

So let me repeat:
Of course you don't need all the tools to make great music.
Of course those tools CAN help making great music even more enjoyable.
End of story.
Old 20th December 2010
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djanthonyw View Post
Would you be able to run any older projects through that you are able to upload samples off? Maybe someone could upload a demo project that you could use?

It would be great if we could do a comparison with something like Duende / UAD / Waves + VCC.
Hey, sorry, 2 points why this won't happen:

1.: I'm not really interested in comparing the desk vs. plugins. There's no point for me. Even if they'd sound 1:1 the same, the workflow is so different that it would be worth it for me.

2.: I simply don't have time for that. As I said, I'm a pro. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm better than a hobbyist, but it means I do it to make a living. I go to the studio, get the job done and go home.
Rather spend the time with my son than testing stuff..

Sorry. I'll tell you guys what release this will be on. If any of you want to try it yourselves, shoot me a PM.
Old 20th December 2010
  #28
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I understand this, but I'm speaking for others that might be interested as well as myself. A professional in this industry is one that makes all of their income just from music? I guess I must be a professional as well... but I also like testing things for fun. Oh well, not a huge deal, just thought it would be worth a shot asking.
Old 20th December 2010
  #29
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crufty's Avatar
first, great thread kosmokrator! Thanks for starting it and sharing.

djanthony, than I feel same way

Not so much plugin a/b, just itb v ssl desk a/b

but also realize time is money and so didn't ask...

i was curious about workflow though...kosmokrator, if you could find the time to answer a few quick questions that would be cool...

a) when it came to pthd->ssl levels, what kind of conventional wisdom applies?
-- thought a: come in hot, use gain to trim and leave the levels static (since vol automation was pthd)?
-- thought b: come in low (conventional itb wisdom: -18 db 'green' metering) and use gain to boost?
-- or ???

b) did you find yourselves printing inserts, or were a few bypassed in favor of onboard compression/eq?

c) where and how were tracks grouped (if any)--pthd, ssl, both?

i know these are kind of rudamintary, but i have long been curious and would be helpful to see perspective! Thanks!
Old 20th December 2010
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crufty View Post
first, great thread kosmokrator! Thanks for starting it and sharing.
No prob. Thanks for the interest!

Quote:
i was curious about workflow though...kosmokrator, if you could find the time to answer a few quick questions that would be cool...

a) when it came to pthd->ssl levels, what kind of conventional wisdom applies?
-- thought a: come in hot, use gain to trim and leave the levels static (since vol automation was pthd)?
-- thought b: come in low (conventional itb wisdom: -18 db 'green' metering) and use gain to boost?
-- or ???
well, I calibrated my setup so that going out of the converters at full scale doesn't drive the line ins of the SSL into distortion. Benno had his tracks leveled healthy, so faders in PT were mostly around unity. I used the trim pots on the SSL a bit.

Quote:
b) did you find yourselves printing inserts, or were a few bypassed in favor of onboard compression/eq?
It's a combination of plugins on PT inserts and desk comp/eq.

Quote:
c) where and how were tracks grouped (if any)--pthd, ssl, both?
I grouped a lot in PT. Didn't use any groups on the SSL. Well, on one track I had a drums group for analog parallel compression.

Quote:
i know these are kind of rudamintary, but i have long been curious and would be helpful to see perspective! Thanks!
Hope that helped.
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