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SSL X Rack vs SSL 500 Series
Old 15th May 2017
  #1
SSL X Rack vs SSL 500 Series

I could not find too much info on my questions on the comparison of the two.

A. Are the knobs any bigger or more spread out on the X Rack vs the 500 series?

B. Do they sound identical?

C. The 500 Series 2 bus compressor includes the hp filter (the newer version 2 of this great compressor). Are you able to get the X Rack series 2 bus compressor with this hp filter?

D. So the 500 series only has the 4000 series which I assume is because more rock engineers prefer the 40000 (black) over the 9000 (silver) series?


I work only with rock/blues and jazz music in my studio. I like more of the mojo character but if I have Manley and Portico gear, I am thinking the silver series actually might help my music to have a more modern punch and clarity over the 4000 series? Granted I can add a Manley Vari Mu afterwards or other things if I want more color.
E. The silver dynamic module has a "hold knob" control while the black series does not. I guess this feature was added just to the newer 9000 series.

Thanks so much.
Old 15th May 2017
  #2
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X-Racks being phased out of production as far as I'm aware...shot Jim from SSL an email or PM on here. Nice High end gear though now, many are selling half filled and parted out modules, so look and buy carefully, as for the SSL 500 Master Buss comp? Pass! Grab a Smart Research C1 Anniversary edition with multiple timing options, the best bang for the buck pro 500 Buss comp with Bantam patching to Sidechain ....buy it! It's soo much better! Looks great works great sounds SL4000 E console like! Go buy it now!

Good luck
TLB
Old 15th May 2017
  #3
Damm it that is bad news in my book. I am starting to really like the SSL 9000 series EQ and compressors and the X Rack is the most affordable way for me to get that sound. I heard high quality comparison of the Softube 9000 series vs the hardware and I love the hardware much better.

Without the X Rack I would think the SSL Matrix sales would go down as they have less SSL hardware racks to setup with it
Old 15th May 2017
  #4
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Well, that was my thinking to though SSL seem to feel a proprietary System verses 500VPR is simply lose win scenario...me I'd go X-Rack as I not only agree though the voltage is higher, the recall better and yeah, you nailed it, as external units plumbed into an SSL console system, they do work! Only option check to see what's going down though I do remember some selling and buying as word was the X Rack was going....? Ask [email protected]
Old 15th May 2017
  #5
I can only afford a Silver EQ, Dynamic module and a Mynx right now. It will take some time to get two more modules for a stereo pair. Now I am afraid if I buy a X Rack by next year I won't be able to buy two more silver modules.

Jim, it would be best to know for sure if this is the case. If so it gives us at least 6 months to a year to save the money for the X Rack gear. I am so depressed about this. Many of us love the X Rack gear but can't afford a whole rack. I am thinking about selling my 1176 to help pay for the X Rack if the gear won't be available next year. Yeah the pluynins are nice but the work flow and tone is still better with the hardware.
Old 15th May 2017
  #6
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Dude I'm not Jim...and he won't magically see this, find him on the forum or email SSL though unless you've got a X RCk Buss Comp...I doubt I'd get caught with a Mynx no way that could be trapped money never expanded, to contact SSL?
Old 15th May 2017
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLastByte View Post
X-Racks being phased out of production as far as I'm aware...shot Jim from SSL an email or PM on here. Nice High end gear though now, many are selling half filled and parted out modules, so look and buy carefully, as for the SSL 500 Master Buss comp? Pass! Grab a Smart Research C1 Anniversary edition with multiple timing options, the best bang for the buck pro 500 Buss comp with Bantam patching to Sidechain ....buy it! It's soo much better! Looks great works great sounds SL4000 E console like! Go buy it now!

Good luck
TLB
I have spoken to Jim at SSL and thankfully the X rack modules have not been discontinued nor will they. If choosing between 500 series or X rack, I would go with X rack for three main reasons.

1. The real estate on the X Rack module is taller so the knobs are a little more spread out.

2. The X Rack allows you to save your settings which is a big plus.

3. The X Rack provides more modules to choose from in the 500 series which makes it more flexibility. Granted if you already have 500 series modules, you may want to stick with the 500 series SSL.
Old 16th May 2017
  #8
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REGGAE's Avatar
Personally, I went with the 500 series over the X-Rack just for more options. If other manufacturers also made X-Rack modules, it would be a no brainer. Being limited to only SSL modules wouldn't give me what I needed to have access to.
Old 16th May 2017
  #9
Gear Addict
 

I think only the XRack summing modules were discontinued.
Old 17th May 2017
  #10
I want the 9000 X Rack series soooo bad. Savings money for it.
Old 17th May 2017
  #11
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I have both, prefer the xrack for the space and versatility. If you can fill up 8 spaces then go xrack, if 1 or 2 modules then 500 series makes more sense.

Another thing to consider, 500 series has less functionality, but more in demand so better resale value.
Old 17th May 2017
  #12
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ionian's Avatar
Another upside of the XRack is that since modules have both the front AND back included, stereo modules only take up one space versus two on a 500 series rack. The stereo units utilize TRS ins and outs instead of XLR to make it fit. So in an 8 space X rack, you can have 8 stereo modules. A plus if you like stem processing since you can run 8 stereo modules and process 8 stereo stems in the same space you would process 8 mono tracks (or 4 stereo stems).

I'm not going to criticize it though as I've tortured Jim enough over how SSL has neglected the XRack and turned it into the redheaded stepchild of the SSL line.
Old 20th May 2017
  #13
There may be an up coming review of the X Rack which you might find helpful. Stay tuned
Old 16th June 2017
  #14
I sort of doubt they would discontinue the x rack because there's no other way to offer superanalogue modules. Maybe if SA could be made for 500 series they would do it, and that might bury x rack, but Jim has indicated on this forum it's not. Popularity of the blackface stuff notwithstanding, the SA line is a draw for many, it is for me. With their x desk and sigma mixers and x rack modules you can get a full SA signal path all the way through for project studio money, I can't imagine that sales model would be abandoned.

Anyway I don't have any blackface stuff but the silver is fantastic. With the EQ you'd have to decide whether you want the choice between two different revisions of the E curves or the choice between E and G. I can't vouch for the former but it's awesome having E and G, either one or the other works better, it's fun choosing. The compressor is so good, really snappy and sharp and just unmistakable character. I'm sure there are cases when the blackface stuff is better for certain music, I'm sure you can't go wrong either way. Some people seem to diss this stuff and others love it, so it might come down to your taste, and demoing is a good idea. But these x rack modules are going for a song on ebay and at vintage king, I fully intend to keep picking them up budget permitting. My theory is a lot of people want something with 'a sound,' something that just passing audio through will impart some euphonic color, hence the romanticizing of the 4000 series. I think the 'sound' of the silver stuff just comes from the way the features and behavior inspires the engineer to use them. Not from the electronics per se. To me their strength is that they make you a better engineer, the same way playing a world class instrument makes you a better player. They allow you to be very creative, and explore a lot of possibilities, not just this automatic immediate bonus that plugging them in makes your audio better, which is what I think some people want from their tubes and transformers. That said I do think the silver stuff is generally open and detailed and vibrant. I think things tend to come out more exciting, probably suits certain music better than others.
Old 16th June 2017
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post

Anyway I don't have any blackface stuff but the silver is fantastic. With the EQ you'd have to decide whether you want the choice between two different revisions of the E curves or the choice between E and G. I can't vouch for the former but it's awesome having E and G, either one or the other works better, it's fun choosing. The compressor is so good, really snappy and sharp and just unmistakable character. I'm sure there are cases when the blackface stuff is better for certain music, I'm sure you can't go wrong either way. Some people seem to diss this stuff and others love it, so it might come down to your taste, and demoing is a good idea. But these x rack modules are going for a song on ebay and at vintage king, I fully intend to keep picking them up budget permitting. My theory is a lot of people want something with 'a sound,' something that just passing audio through will impart some euphonic color, hence the romanticizing of the 4000 series. I think the 'sound' of the silver stuff just comes from the way the features and behavior inspires the engineer to use them. Not from the electronics per se. To me their strength is that they make you a better engineer, the same way playing a world class instrument makes you a better player. They allow you to be very creative, and explore a lot of possibilities, not just this automatic immediate bonus that plugging them in makes your audio better, which is what I think some people want from their tubes and transformers. That said I do think the silver stuff is generally open and detailed and vibrant. I think things tend to come out more exciting, probably suits certain music better than others.
Great description and explanation of the Black and Silver modules. I think when we first got into digital, it was cold and sterile. People loved the 60's and 70's recordings and wanted that same mojo because the digital converters lacked the warmth. Now with much improved converters and people not wanting to live in the 60's and 70's they are gravitating more towards a cleaner clearer sound that is not cold or digital. Running all tracks through tape plug ins, and using mic pre's that have color help add some flavor while the rest of the chain is clean. Of course everyone also has their favorite outboard colored EQ or compressor as well.

I finally heard the silver series and I agree that I prefer them over the 4000 series and I am a blues rock guitar player. The silver adds a punch and forward clarity that is exciting. I still like the 4000 series but I prefer the Portico EQ's and compressors when I want color.
Old 16th June 2017
  #16
SSL have those lego series videos on YouTube, there's one that compares the black vs. the silver and one that compares the E EQ curves vs. the G curves. To be honest, I think the difference between the 4000 and 9000 is for the most part overstated. I think of Peter Gabriel's 3rd and 4th albums as the quintessential SSL aesthetic, you can really hear the snap of the channel dynamics and the precision of the EQ curves. That was 4000 series, yet I feel like those are exactly the kinds of sounds you're able to get with the silver modules. I think the timing laws of the dynamics and the shape of the EQ has a lot more effect than the circuitry, though I don't doubt there's some. For me though, do I want those tools with somewhat band limited hardware that has not quite as good phase response or do I want those tools with supreme high fidelity?

The music I produce is ultra modern classical ensemble, but 50/50 acoustic and electronic. I've found that I can use both the EQ and compressor on delicate classical acoustic recordings without worrying about harming the integrity of a very transparent signal path, and then turn around and aggressively waveshape synthesizers or sampled electronic stuff. So it's the perfect toolset for me. I had a Portico 5043 and though I was enamored with the larger than life, low mid inflated, vintage-y sound, there were so many cases where I couldn't use it because it would blunt the finer details, so I sold it.
Old 18th June 2017
  #17
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason rocks View Post
Great description and explanation of the Black and Silver modules. I think when we first got into digital, it was cold and sterile. People loved the 60's and 70's recordings and wanted that same mojo because the digital converters lacked the warmth. Now with much improved converters and people not wanting to live in the 60's and 70's they are gravitating more towards a cleaner clearer sound that is not cold or digital. Running all tracks through tape plug ins, and using mic pre's that have color help add some flavor while the rest of the chain is clean. Of course everyone also has their favorite outboard colored EQ or compressor as well.

I finally heard the silver series and I agree that I prefer them over the 4000 series and I am a blues rock guitar player. The silver adds a punch and forward clarity that is exciting. I still like the 4000 series but I prefer the Portico EQ's and compressors when I want color.
also: if you do go with any summing modules .. i would avoid the 8 channel - it really has No SSL Sound .. BUT if you get 2 Four channel Line Inputs that DOES sound like that special SSL thing .. my friend and i did the SSL x-rack review for somebody back when thy came out ... it was like night and day between the two .. he still has his and barely uses it and really does not know how to use it very well to not at all ... kinda sad ...

really nice polished sound .. !!

i personally own 4 502EQ's in a custom powered rack .. they came out of a Film Console in Burbank .. just engaging them gives me that same feeling !!! Polished !!!

Enjoy !!!
Old 18th June 2017
  #18
I have two silver EQ's and two Dynamics for my X Rack. Thinking about buying a stereo module of EQ and Dynamics next. . Then perhaps the Bus Compressor.

Last edited by Glenn Bucci; 18th June 2017 at 07:12 PM..
Old 18th June 2017
  #19
I did a shootout, where I recorded half a concert on SSL SA preamps and the other half with an AEA TRP preamp. Used an AEA stereo ribbon. Both pres have the same intention, straight wire with gain, but the recordings were different enough that you could reliably pick each out. So maybe that's 'the SSL sound' and 'the AEA sound.' But, I also auditioned the SSL as a line level amp as a first stage trim before outboard. I mean, you can't hear it at all, which was what I wanted. I could change the gain digitally or SSL and no way anyone could pick them out in a blind test, so much for the SSL sound.

Maybe, the line amps in x rack or x desk have a sound, but I sort of doubt it. If there's a test somewhere, please point me to it. Maybe some people would disagree with my perspective but I feel if you're looking for a sound, you should look elsewhere.

That said, try turning up the LF band in bell mode. I have not heard any EQ that sounds like that, the bass gets big and present but not even the tiniest bit bloated and boomy, the transients are still sharp as a tack, the phase is still clear and not smeary at all. To me, that is the SSL sound. And if you compare it to some other eqs, like my A&H R16 desk EQ, it's like watching 4K compared to regular cable. I'm sure there are as good or better eqs, but that's the sound I associate with SSL. Also the ability to sharply notch things down or bring up some peaky components to make something stand out more in a mix. I think those E shapes in particular are 'a sound' though in little increments you can hardly hear it.

Maybe the 500 series or x rack black modules would give you more of a plug it in and get instant color sound. I still think this is not what you go for if that's what you're looking for. Maybe great river harrisons or purple or something.
Old 24th June 2017
  #20
Gear Nut
 
NUVMUSIC's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
also: if you do go with any summing modules .. i would avoid the 8 channel - it really has No SSL Sound .. BUT if you get 2 Four channel Line Inputs that DOES sound like that special SSL thing
This is not exactly true.
What differences there are (in sound) between the 8 and 4 input module, if any, are minute. I own both and have done so for some time. Where *I* feel the 4 input module shines is in its versatility; the addition of inserts on each channel as well as the gain and pan controls (this is perhaps where that minute difference in sound lies).
Whilst the 8 input module is a fixed unity gain module by design, it still nonetheless passes its signal through the master modules mix buss gain stage.


Last edited by NUVMUSIC; 24th June 2017 at 10:16 AM..
Old 24th June 2017
  #21
Gear Nut
 
NUVMUSIC's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
Maybe, the line amps in x rack or x desk have a sound, but I sort of doubt it.
At the risk of misquoting you, this would be my response:

Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
...the transients are still sharp as a tack, the phase is still clear and not smeary at all. To me, that is the SSL sound.
...and a little more besides.

Old 24th June 2017
  #22
Very clever

I guess I meant the difference between 'a sound' and a sound. I'm really a project studio guy who has a couple channel strips, I haven't mixed on 9000 boards for years or anything. But I do think other project studio gearheads buy these modules looking for some instant classic rock signature and may be disappointed to find merely a crazy high definition tool with an extremely powerful feature set. I think that may be why x rack modules are all over ebay for like nothing. Man, what do you mean, can I slam the inputs at 11 so that I get this magical alchemical transformation of sound that sounds just like something recorded on a room sized recording desk? No?
Old 24th June 2017
  #23
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NUVMUSIC View Post
At the risk of misquoting you, this would be my response:



...and a little more besides.

hi, thats fine if thats your opinion .. my opinion is just what myself and some other engineers heard when we did the Demo Article for SSL ..

4 channel Line Amps had a vibe .. the 8 channel did not have that vibe ..

i cannot say if SSL change something in the Production Run of 8 channel .. maybe they did but i have not heard any other modules but the ones we tested ..

cheers john
Old 25th June 2017
  #24
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I would say that x-rack with recall - it. Makes difference
Old 25th June 2017
  #25
Gear Nut
 
NUVMUSIC's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
But I do think other project studio gearheads buy these modules looking for some instant classic rock signature and may be disappointed to find merely a crazy high definition tool with an extremely powerful feature set. I think that may be why x rack modules are all over ebay for like nothing. Man, what do you mean, can I slam the inputs at 11 so that I get this magical alchemical transformation of sound that sounds just like something recorded on a room sized recording desk? No?
Couldn't agree more with this augustusarnone
XRack works for me in the way that I can integrate my outboard comps and eq's into my workflow without the hassle of a desk.
Old 17th September 2017
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
......

That said, try turning up the LF band in bell mode. I have not heard any EQ that sounds like that, the bass gets big and present but not even the tiniest bit bloated and boomy, the transients are still sharp as a tack, the phase is still clear and not smeary at all. To me, that is the SSL sound. And if you compare it to some other eqs, like my A&H R16 desk EQ, it's like watching 4K compared to regular cable. I'm sure there are as good or better eqs, but that's the sound I associate with SSL. Also the ability to sharply notch things down or bring up some peaky components to make something stand out more in a mix. I think those E shapes in particular are 'a sound' though in little increments you can hardly hear it.

......
Which SSL EQ module are you referring to?
Old 17th September 2017
  #27
X Rack SuperAnalogue EQ
Old 17th September 2017
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by augustusarnone View Post
X Rack SuperAnalogue EQ
Thanks!! Thinking of hooking myself up with some of the stereo dynamics modules.
Old 20th September 2017
  #29
Gear Addict
 

fair price for a used xrack?

I want to sell my x rack but I can't figure out what a fair price would be for one? any suggestions? 800?
Old 20th September 2017
  #30
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I'm actually really excited to be getting into the X-rack system as I think in some ways it's a better thought out system especially given that you can have 8 stereo channels in a 19” rack as opposed to 5 stereo channels when using a 500 series rack.

In a Sterling Modular rolling rack, I’m planning on having 2 X-racks one with the dynamics and one with EQs which is going to be perfect to have between my convertors and my Sigma!
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