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SSL X Rack vs SSL 500 Series
Old 20th September 2017
  #31
Gear Addict
I think the xrack is great...wish they would hv come out with send return unit...but at end of day your mixing on an ssl9000k!! .....take time and build your system...doesnt get better than this??? Cant believe people jumped off this thing for new summing systems...i see people clamoring cause they cant affrd an ssl console.....or duality but still sold their xrack system to get the newest flavor of the day summing box... and their now on to another summing unit???? Continuing to build my xrack sysems...10 yrs from now people will be wishing they had an ssl...and then they will consider xrack "vintage analog sound" and will search all over the universe for xrack units lol...cause at the end of the day...its a duality/9000 based system and people hve jumoed off and on to the new marketing trick
Old 20th September 2017
  #32
Gear Addict
Not ripping anyone but psst!! Its a 9000/duality people...wake up...ymmv but im stickimg with the xrack...the 4 input modules summing bus and eqs and compressors for it....ill supplement my outboard with other colors to complement
Old 21st September 2017
  #33
I agree with these comments, I also think it really comes down to whether you like these particular tools. It's a particular approach to EQ and a particular kind of dynamics section, with its signature timing laws and characteristic bite. It's a fantastic system if the aesthetic of these tools matches the kinds of sounds you like. They cover a lot of ground, and probably work for more music types than a lot of stuff out there, but I think are still a pretty specific aesthetic.
Old 22nd September 2017
  #34
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
Have both

My six X-Racks (24 EQs, 24 dynamics), two Sigmas, and a Nucleus2.

Saweeett!! Thts what im tawkin bout!!
Old 22nd September 2017
  #35
Quote:
Originally Posted by paraudio View Post
but still sold their xrack system to get the newest flavor of the day summing box...
Have both

My six X-Racks (24 EQs, 24 dynamics), two Sigmas, and a Nucleus2.

(ignore the green blob the floor, just testing out my new Radial Pro D8)
Attached Thumbnails
SSL X Rack vs SSL 500 Series-img_2140.jpg  
Old 22nd September 2017
  #36
Quote:
Originally Posted by paraudio View Post
Saweeett!! Thts what im tawkin bout!!
Yep, pretty much as close as I'm going to get to a Duality this year. Sounds epic as I'm sure you know.

It's a shame SSL's software is pretty terrible in terms of a lack of a seamless experience between the Nucleus2 and the Sigmas. And the absolute total lack of dual Sigma support. Pretty poor really - their hardware is the best around, their software is well below average.
Old 22nd September 2017
  #37
Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
My six X-Racks (24 EQs, 24 dynamics), two Sigmas, and a Nucleus2.
Wow, very cool. Outside of Timbaland's tour bus, never seen such a collection of X-Rack. https://youtu.be/ZZA_b-xOhDA?t=5m36s

Too bad to hear about the weak software - from all their demos, it seems like they have that part down. :/
Old 23rd September 2017
  #38
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
Yep, pretty much as close as I'm going to get to a Duality this year. Sounds epic as I'm sure you know.

It's a shame SSL's software is pretty terrible in terms of a lack of a seamless experience between the Nucleus2 and the Sigmas. And the absolute total lack of dual Sigma support. Pretty poor really - their hardware is the best around, their software is well below average.
That killed a dream.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frantz View Post
That killed a dream.
I'm reverse engineering their protocol and building my own VST to drive multiple Sigmas. I have already created a stand alone application that does it, so the dream might still come to fruition

In the meantime what I've ended up doing is using the Delta Control plugin to control levels on the first Sigma and then leave the second Sigma at unity. It's a annoying for sure, but mostly if I want to drive a channel then I'll put it in the first 16.

It's frustrating hearing the excuses from SSL as I know they're not telling the complete truth. If you look at their videos you can see that it was possible to pick the target Sigma on the original plugin builds. I assume they removed it because they had bugs that they weren't prepared to fix. But this is just basic IP networking, it's not hard. I am guessing their software development team isn't quite as savvy as their hardware development team.

I have a ton of respect for what SSL do - and the Sigmas especially have completely transformed the quality of my mixes overnight - but when I spend 40k on their hardware then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect their software to be of an equally high standard.

Last edited by louthy; 23rd September 2017 at 03:57 AM..
Old 23rd September 2017
  #40
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
I'm reverse engineering their protocol and building my own VST to drive multiple Sigmas. I have already created a stand alone application that does it, so the dream might still come to fruition

In the meantime what I've ended up doing is using the Delta Control plugin to control levels on the first Sigma and then leave the second Sigma at unity. It's a annoying for sure, but mostly if I want to drive a channel then I'll put it in the first 16.

It's frustrating hearing the excuses from SSL as I know they're not telling the complete truth. If you look at their videos you can see that it was possible to pick the target Sigma on the original plugin builds. I assume they removed it because they had bugs that they weren't prepared to fix. But this is just basic IP networking, it's not hard. I am guessing their software development team isn't quite as savvy at their hardware development team.

I have a ton of respect for what SSL do - and the Sigmas especially have completely transformed the quality of my mixes overnight - but when I spend 40k on their hardware then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect their software to be of an equally high standard.
Wow, keep us posted on how it turns out.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #41
Lives for gear
 
ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post

I have a ton of respect for what SSL do - and the Sigmas especially have completely transformed the quality of my mixes overnight - but when I spend 40k on their hardware then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect their software to be of an equally high standard.
Exactly. If your in house team isn't up to the task, then outsource it to a team that is.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
Exactly. If your in house team isn't up to the task, then outsource it to a team that is.
That's the nuclear option which nearly never works unfortunately.

I have sympathy for SSL in this area as I am a co-founder of a software company and finding good people is hard. If the person leading the development team isn't up to scratch then that can have a negative knock on effect throughout the team. It's especially hard for non-technical managers to find good software development team leaders (as the subject is so abstract as to be incomprehensible to most). In some ways it's a much harder thing to do than the hardware side (because of it being such an abstract skill).

You could have a leader with little experience and that is what causes them to make bad decisions, which lead to bad products. Or you could have a very experienced leader who hasn't kept up with the times - software moves so quickly and people expect so much more from it these days that if you have a leader who's resting on their experience laurels then you still end up with bad software.

Outsourcing still requires in-house people with enough skill in designing software systems that they can communicate that to the outsource team. This communication buffer often becomes just as big a problem as an inexperienced in house team. Given the choice I would always want the developers to be as close to 'home' as possible. i.e. sat in the SSL office.

I'm on their beta test team for the new Sigma software, but unfortunately it still has some problems, however they do seem committed to fixing issues - which is good, but they do appear to have some fundamental architecture issues - my gut feeling (which means take this with a massive pinch of salt) is that they have a poorly implemented coordination system for their devices. Coordination of remote devices isn't trivial - there's lots of very hardcore papers written on this subject - but it is also a known issue now.

One small example, I was working on a track last night and once again one of my DAW layers in Nucleus had lost the Sigma, so I couldn't control it from the Nucleus. This stuff happens too often. And the magic startup sequence required (load Sigma software, turn Sigma 1 on, load Nucleus software, turn Nucleus on, turn second Sigma on) is indicative of a broken coordination system. Each device should see when any other device comes onto the network and just start working with it.

The replies I've had about multiple Sigma support is that it isn't going to happen. Initially I was told it was because of some undefined technical issue, but then it was let on that they had some issues when a Sigma was turned off and on again - which sounds like a plain and simple bug - or more likely the result of a poorly designed solution. Apparently there's no demand for this feature, so I don't see any support coming. Which seems crazy to me - maybe there would be demand for second Sigmas if the software worked, who knows?

One upside to software is it's patchable and fixable. SSL controls the firmware, the application software, and the plugin software - so they can turn it around.
The absolute best approach for SSL and their software team is to react to these concerns and fix them - and try and have some empathy and understanding for how the end users are using their software. They're not idiots, they can clearly write software. They can learn from the mistakes of this implementation and do it better based on the bugs that they see, or the gaps in functionality. All developers make mistakes on their way to enlightenment, so I'm happy to give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
Old 23rd September 2017
  #43
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
Have both

My six X-Racks (24 EQs, 24 dynamics), two Sigmas, and a Nucleus2.

(ignore the green blob the floor, just testing out my new Radial Pro D8)
I gather you like the SSL sound! Did you get their converters too?

Which EQs are you running with mostly?
Old 24th September 2017
  #44
Solid State Logic
 
Jim@SSL's Avatar
 

As you might be able to tell, we're talking quite extensively to Louthy :-)

He has some excellent knowledge in this area, but to fill out the picture it has to be understood that the Delta technology has been developed for a whole platform of products with different physical attributes (Duality, AWS, Matrix and Sigma). This makes some aspects of architecture across all of them challenging in some cases.

We are committed to making it the best experience possible, and while what we have right now may not be perfect for every setup we will do our best to optimise all aspects of it.
Old 24th September 2017
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yummerz View Post
I gather you like the SSL sound! Did you get their converters too?

Which EQs are you running with mostly?
I adore the SSL sound! Once you hear it you can't un-hear it As you may be able to see from the picture I also have 3 of their VHD Pres and the G Buss Compressor (rack).

And yep I have their converters too (three Alpha Link MADI SXs, which I run via MADI through an RME card) - but mostly because at the time they were probably the best value for quality/features.

The EQs are all SuperAnalogue 9Ks. I personally don't think the 4K EQs are as good as the classic desks. The 9K EQs are really stunning though, so amazingly musical but still surgical.

I have a mixture of 4K and 9K dynamics.

Last edited by louthy; 24th September 2017 at 06:54 PM..
Old 24th September 2017
  #46
Lives for gear
 

@ [email protected] - Is there any roadmap for the future of the X-rack system that can be shared with us or even any cryptic teasers to fuel wild speculations!
Old 6th October 2017
  #47
Here for the gear
 

First, my $.02 on the original thread topic - I'm with the X-Rack modules all the way. They sound fantastic (I'm partial to the 4k modules but have a healthy mix amongst my 4 that will eventually expand to the max of 6), the form factor feels much less cramped, and the Total Recall is just such a huge workflow boost that people seem to continually overlook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
I'm reverse engineering their protocol and building my own VST to drive multiple Sigmas. I have already created a stand alone application that does it, so the dream might still come to fruition
Funny, I've been doing something similar with the X-Racks to try to make up for some of the lack of flexibility in the way the TR saves work. Haven't had as much time to spend on it as I'd like, but making progress.

Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
In the meantime what I've ended up doing is using the Delta Control plugin to control levels on the first Sigma and then leave the second Sigma at unity. It's a annoying for sure, but mostly if I want to drive a channel then I'll put it in the first 16.
I encountered the same frustration when I traded in my Nucleus for a Matrix2 (as discussed here https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-m...-new-post.html) with the intention to use it alongside my Sigma.

The best workaround I've found that I've yet to see mentioned anywhere is to actually incorporate a second computer into the network. I run my main Logic session on my typical dedicated DAW computer and have that one also running the Matrix control software with the Matrix Delta plugin contained within that session. I then run the Sigma software on my old Macbook as well as a slave Logic session that contains nothing but the Sigma Delta plugin - it turns out to be really simple to sync this session to the main one without introducing an additional MIDI interface since they're both running the IPMidi software.

Obviously needing to have a second computer around is less than ideal and I would greatly prefer to have everything in a single session, but I would imagine most studios of my size or larger have an old one or two sitting around like I did and this still gets me the ultimate result of using Delta control with both systems. I've only had time to run a couple of test sessions this way, but everything seems to work.

Of course when I mentioned this to SSL support, they said it was untested but that they would try it out.

I've heard tale of a few AWS and Duality users wanting to add Sigma into their system as well for some extra flexibility, so hopefully that motivates SSL to get it working properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
It's frustrating hearing the excuses from SSL as I know they're not telling the complete truth. If you look at their videos you can see that it was possible to pick the target Sigma on the original plugin builds. I assume they removed it because they had bugs that they weren't prepared to fix. But this is just basic IP networking, it's not hard. I am guessing their software development team isn't quite as savvy as their hardware development team.

I have a ton of respect for what SSL do - and the Sigmas especially have completely transformed the quality of my mixes overnight - but when I spend 40k on their hardware then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect their software to be of an equally high standard.
I have a software background as well with a similar perspective. The thing I have to say though is that of all the companies that still care about making good analog hardware (not just emulating it), SSL is far better than the others at making it integrate with the software side of things. As much as we run into these headaches, I usually get the sense that they are paying attention and do actually care about fixing the issues in as timely a manner as they can if they are indeed fixable. They may not quite move with the same agility as a modern software company, but they're way ahead of their peers IMHO. API for example, seem not to really care about the software side at all (or they just avoid it because it's too hard), and Neve's evolution of the software side of the Genesys has been excruciatingly slow and ham-fisted at best. SSL is the only one I've encountered of the older companies that seem to come anywhere close to understanding "Why Software Is Eating The World". The mere existence of Sigma is pretty substantial proof of that. It's a tricky balance of resources that they must have to strike, as a lot of the recording engineers I know who still care about analog would rather not have to deal with the software side at all.
Old 28th December 2017
  #48
Quote:
Originally Posted by louthy View Post
I adore the SSL sound! Once you hear it you can't un-hear it As you may be able to see from the picture I also have 3 of their VHD Pres and the G Buss Compressor (rack).

And yep I have their converters too (three Alpha Link MADI SXs, which I run via MADI through an RME card) - but mostly because at the time they were probably the best value for quality/features.

The EQs are all SuperAnalogue 9Ks. I personally don't think the 4K EQs are as good as the classic desks. The 9K EQs are really stunning though, so amazingly musical but still surgical.

I have a mixture of 4K and 9K dynamics.
I agree the SuperAnalogue EQ's are wonderful. As I have other EQ's to work with, the Black series EQ's and Dynamics are not as unique as the Silver series though they are also very useful.
Old 16th January 2018
  #49
Here for the gear
 

Probably stupid question

Hi Guys,

I'm planing to buy a SSL X-Desk and an SSL X-Rack. (if you have any other better version for summing and some analog sound in this budget please let me know, it would be nice to find something analog with DAW control also)

Unfortunately I'm not so familiar with 500 series modules SSL X-Rack modules.
I see there are SSL X-Rack Stereo EQ Module and SSL X-Rack Stereo Dynamics Module.

My question is if I run a mono signal trough a stereo modul they work same as the normal mono module?

I look forward for your reply,
Thanks,
Old 17th January 2018
  #50
I added a SSL VHD pre to my X Rack! Without activating the VHD button it will sound just like the regular SSL pre. By activating the VHD and putting the distortion around 120:00 - 1:00 o clock, it starts to thicken the mids and it has a fuller sound. This is a much more usable pre which is also in the AWS and Duality consoles. The VHD pre though brings something unique things to the table.

If you boost the low end of the SSl pre with a simple DAW EQ plug in around 100, it adds a little bit of weight which gets a little closer to the Neve. The Neve still has a thicker character that helps guitars or vocals sound bigger and richer.

On some acoustic guitar setups, the SSL VHD could be a better option. I also was able to nail The Beatles Revolution guitar tone with the SSl VHD, a Fender TWIN, and a little distortion from my Mess Boogie Flux pedal. But the majority of the distortion is from cranking the VHD all the way up. You can get a smoother tube sound by moving the VHD to the left or a slightly pointy sound by going right which is more of the solid state emulation.

I also find the SSl pre can be enhanced by a Neve EQ or compressor, just as my Neve pre's can be enhanced with SSl Eq's and compressors. They help each other out in nice ways .

The SSL pre has a lighter character and of course is clean. With the higher impedance it adds a little more air which can be great on vocals for that extra top end. Not only is there also a hp filter but also a lp filter as well. If you have a vocal track that needs reduction with sss issue, the lp filter can be helpful. The simple compressor is very effective in controlling the peaks. You need the time to get the setting correct and not overdo it. The VHD when active does not affect the sound too much up to 12 o'clock. After that it starts to add some nice break up. A smoother (tube like) distortion when moved to the left and a more pointy distortion (solid state) to the right. Between 1:00 and 3:00 o'clock are my favorite settings which can add a little grit to a already distorted guitar sound.

The next question is how close is my UAD SSL 2bus (Mark II) 2 bus compare to the hardware. Will I notice a difference if I add a SSL 2 bus to my X Rack? I would think the headroom for one would be better with the hardware. Or maybe I should just get a stereo Silver EQ next.
Old 10th April 2018
  #51
Still very very happy with my SSl X Rack Silver Series. It really provides a punchy open sound without being harsh.

I'm also interested in checking out the 2 bus compressor but even used ones are $2,000. Then with the fact that I'm so happy with the UAD SSl 2 bus makes it difficult to pull the trigger.

Has anyone heard the hardware X Rack SSl compressor and compared it to the UAD version?
Old 10th April 2018
  #52
I bet you can find samples to listen to, the ZenPro Clipalator has a full mix run through X Rack and all the other ones in this style. Maybe the sound will jump out at you and you'll feel like you have to have it? Probably you should ask yourself whether an outboard would suit your workflow better. If you assume the UAD or the Duende both sound really good, would an outboard compressor let you work in a better way? Fit your system better? Then maybe it's worth it if you can swing it. I just bought a WesAudio Dione. It's a little cheaper but I xan't complain about the sound at all. I have the silver dynamics too and I was really curious how the quad vca with auto release would compare. I'd say it has a similar exciting snap to the attack but somehow the auto release is just better on full program material, sounds bigger, more body. The channel comps thin things out ever so much, though I love them to death. Even if I thought UAD was just as good, maybe it is, I have no idea, I still would've gotten the Dione because I use multi bus analog summing, and I love being able to dedicate one bus to the SSL type ballsy and huge sound.
Old 11th April 2018
  #53
Lives for gear
 

I have an x rack SSL bus compressor in a Mynx.
Was trying to sell it due to space as it’s an awkward Piece to place just in the mynx, but part of me wants to get an Xrack so I can grab a couple eqs.
I’ve shot it out against all available plugs ins and I prefer the actual hardware unit myself, more depth, better stereo image etc... plus it has extra ratios plugs/hardware doesn’t have.
Old 13th June 2018
  #54
Has anyone used the stereo SSL X Rack EQ? I assume it sounds exactly the same as their mono version? But can they squeeze all the same components for two EQ's in one module?
Old 14th June 2018
  #55
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason rocks View Post
Has anyone used the stereo SSL X Rack EQ? I assume it sounds exactly the same as their mono version? But can they squeeze all the same components for two EQ's in one module?
I’ve got a few of them. Love them on true stereo sources like stereo-mic’d acoustic guitars, drum overheads, etc. Definitely have similar characteristics to the mono silver modules, though my experience with those is limited as I prefer the black modules for most of my mono sources and have filled my racks with those instead. I think they’ve got the stereo-in-a-single-channel-width thing down from the AWS948 and such.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #56
Lives for gear
 
Eigenwert's Avatar
What‘s the supply voltage for Xrack modules? Is it more than the +- 16V on the 500 rack?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eigenwert View Post
What‘s the supply voltage for Xrack modules? Is it more than the +- 16V on the 500 rack?
Yes, I think it's 18V. Nonetheless, I wouldn't say headroom is a strength of the x-rack modules. I've made the EQ and dynamics modules distort plenty, and it's not a distortion you would ever want to have. It's more or less a non-issue though since you just have to go into them with a sensible level and gain up afterwards if that's what you want. They're not designed to be pushed anyway, so you just hit them at the proper level whatever the case.
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