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SSL vs Serpent vs Obsidian 2-Buss Comp
Old 13th May 2013
  #1
SSL vs Serpent vs Obsidian 2-Buss Comp

Hi,

This has been discussed many times but I feel there is new stuff on the table.
I need one of those and wanted to know your opinion on the following.

- SSL just released the G-Comp for 500 series, it seems to be the obvious choice.It is priced quite high, which is not really the problem but I can't understand why the hell they changed the release times of a compressor that's been around for 40 years ?

- Obsidian is apparently people's favourite, it doesn't seem there is anything bad to say about it, except it is also pricey.

- Serpent Audio just released a 500 Series SSL inspired compressor for half the price of the two above. I haven't heard it and I'm looking for someone who could talk about it ? It does also have a DRY/WET option ( unseen on any SSL comp, except on something like Cytomic's The Glue plugin ) and manually adjustable release time ( much like on an API 2500 ) so a lot of things on his side !


Pretty much trying to find out if I drop the money in the real SSL stuff, or if with progress in the the 500 format I'll be fine with spending half the money on the Serpent Audio. OR Dramstic is just the best SSL comp out there.

Thx !!
Old 13th May 2013
  #2
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ionian's Avatar
Might as well throw IGS audio's new SSL compressor into the ring with a crazy price of $700 with parallel mixing and sidechain. No samples yet but most of IGS' gear sounds great.

For the record I'm a diehard Obsidian user. That thing blows me away every time I use it.


Regards,
Frank
Old 13th May 2013
  #3
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The obsidian is great.
Old 13th May 2013
  #4
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Jackie Moon's Avatar
Interested in this as well, especially in the Serpent vs Obsidian.
Old 13th May 2013
  #5
So you guys think the Obsidian is BETTER than the actual SSL ?
Old 13th May 2013
  #6
Where do you see this IGS SSL comp for $700? I'm seeing this on their site...

S-Type Stereo Mix Bus Compressor 1290 €

Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
Might as well throw IGS audio's new SSL compressor into the ring with a crazy price of $700 with parallel mixing and sidechain. No samples yet but most of IGS' gear sounds great.

For the record I'm a diehard Obsidian user. That thing blows me away every time I use it.


Regards,
Frank
Old 13th May 2013
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcoutu1 View Post
Where do you see this IGS SSL comp for $700? I'm seeing this on their site...

S-Type Stereo Mix Bus Compressor 1290 €
Nevermind. Atlas has the 500 series version for $700. Seems like a steal!
Old 14th May 2013
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeroplane View Post
So you guys think the Obsidian is BETTER than the actual SSL ?
As an outboard unit? Absolutely. Although there is something really nice about the SSL buss comp in an actual SSL desk.

But yeah, the Obsidian is hands-down the best SSL-style/VCA mix buss comp I've used.
Old 14th May 2013
  #9
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Serpent

Haven't used the obsidian, but when I was looking for an SSL style comp, I found and ended up buying the Serpent, and......my search is over.

Features are forward thinking, heritage is solid SSL, and after buying 3 different compressors designed and built my Mike Pildis @ Serpent (SA3A, Splice, and the aforementioned 4001), there is no doubt in my mind that as far as new compressors go, he is the man to beat. He focuses on the best compression he can do without compromise, has great instincts as to what is needed with modern stylings of classic designs, and IMO he is beyond meticulous in achieving his goals. Honestly, I don't know how he delivers what he does at such amazing prices.
Old 14th May 2013
  #10
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ionian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeroplane View Post
So you guys think the Obsidian is BETTER than the actual SSL ?
I would say that if you're looking for an SSL compressor and you don't demo the Obsidian, you're seriously shortchanging yourself.

In the SSL category, I've yet to hear anything match it in my opinion.


Regards,
Frank
Old 20th May 2013
  #11
Ok, bought the Obsidian, thanks guys !
Old 21st May 2013
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Mike Green's Avatar
 

Serpent or www.rhoadesaudiodesigns.com, the latter preferably.
Old 21st May 2013
  #13
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kingofswing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
I would say that if you're looking for an SSL compressor and you don't demo the Obsidian, you're seriously shortchanging yourself.

In the SSL category, I've yet to hear anything match it in my opinion.


Regards,
Frank

You mean 'only' in the 500 series world, right?

I have recently compared my Smart C1 to an early 2000 G384 rack (borrowed from a friend), and to be honest the difference wasn't night and day as I was expecting. I was so surprised how close they can sound on some material and how much wider the C1 goes when used in dual mono. Overall I felt both the G384 and C1 shared a very similar sound, familiar grab and compression characteristics.

So yeah, if in 500 land, probably not much choice - but then again SSL have just released there own module. I have the X-Rack version and it sounds fantastic, slightly cleaner but still great. But in 1u rack land, I know which one I would choose.

One point I would like to add is that the Obsidian is transformer based, unlike the SSL design. This certainly changes things sonically. I love transformer based gear, but then is it still an SSL?
Old 21st May 2013
  #14
Gear Maniac
 
Mike Green's Avatar
 

guys, please check out rhoadesaudio stuff, I've been impressed with that stuff myself lately. The 2bus gssl comp is a joyride beyond imagination, far better than the original plus they offer racked 4 / 9k originals.
Old 21st May 2013
  #15
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Nowadays you can get the SSL in rack or 500 form, so if you want an SSL there is no more holding anybody back and seriously...it's an SSL!

For all the clones I've heard and used, the Serpent wins on action and tone...but then you factor in the features and it really stands strong.

War
Old 26th May 2013
  #16
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Jackie Moon's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
Nowadays you can get the SSL in rack or 500 form, so if you want an SSL there is no more holding anybody back and seriously...it's an SSL!

For all the clones I've heard and used, the Serpent wins on action and tone...but then you factor in the features and it really stands strong.

War
How's the stereo imaging on those serpents ?
Old 26th May 2013
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
For all the clones I've heard and used, the Serpent wins on action and tone...but then you factor in the features and it really stands strong.

War
Hmmmm, lovely chewy action......chomp chomp.
Old 10th June 2013
  #18
Gear Addict
 
jkervin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbjoubaud View Post
Interested in this as well, especially in the Serpent vs Obsidian.
Has anyone who's used both the Serpent and Obsidian care to comment on differences or similarities?
Old 10th June 2013
  #19
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
I think of the Obsidian as being an improved design. The new Dual Mono Expander card just came out...and it's pricey and all...but I just don't care. That's what I'm getting. I just prefer the sound, it's bigger (Transformer driven Outputs), and the features on the 500 series are actually better than the rackmount version.
Old 10th June 2013
  #20
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbjoubaud View Post
How's the stereo imaging on those serpents ?
As good as anything, no issues.

War
Old 10th June 2013
  #21
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herecomesyourman's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
As good as anything, no issues.

War
To be fair I think the Serpent is also a better design. The WET/DRY feature on that is great, and I thought it sounded more like the old G comps than the new SSL's.
Old 10th June 2013
  #22
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Mike spent I think 4 months side by side with an original G buss when developing the SB4001. The Serpent is crazy good indeed. That dude cares more than most designers too, to get it right and keep it right.

War
Old 13th February 2014
  #23
Gear Nut
 
Driveby Studios's Avatar
Hmmmm... it seems the obsidian is based on the GSSL design with better components maybe? (Not sure but google it n make up ur own mind) And transformers? I doubt the input transformer is being driven hard, not adding much too the sound.
Obsidian > GSSL, but way too pricey!!!

The Serpent is by all means a modern GSSL with ALL the bells and whistles except transformers. Can't go wrong here.

Looking at the guts of the IGS comp, I'd say it gets you your basic SSL sound w only some of the great features. Price is spot on!!!
IGS = basic GSSL

Chameleon Labs = GSSL w Chinese components.

I don't think the Roll Music is based on the GSSL either.

A lot of the clones are based on the SSL 4000, with a few tweaks here and there.

I'd like to know if there's much sound difference at the low ratios that you would use on program material.
Old 14th February 2014
  #24
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

All of the SSL clones in our Clipalator were tested side by side, and we used test tones to set up everything identical to make it fair before printing the result of each. You can easily hear the difference between all of them. We also put a borrowed Dramastic in there and I know many of you would be led to believe that transformers equals more bass but that is simply not the case.

They each have their own strength, and none of these (except maybe one) are miles apart from each other including the SSL.

The ones done all in the same session using exact settings are:

Chameleon Labs 7720 (stock and mod)
TK Audio BC1-S
Dramastic Obsidian (rack version)
Serpent Audio SB4001
Alta Moda Hippo
SSL Stereo Buss 500

Settings were:

4:1 ratio
Attack: 10
Release: AUTO

and are performing identical amounts of compression.

You can hear the differences in frequency response, tone and action.

War
Old 14th February 2014
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Driveby Studios View Post
Looking at the guts of the IGS comp, I'd say it gets you your basic SSL sound w only some of the great features. Price is spot on!!!
IGS = basic GSSL.
I wouldn't call it too basic. It does have stereo/dual mono, a 5 point Hi pass sidechain, and a parallel Mix function.


Since we are talking about SSL inspired 500 units, here is the IGS S-type below. Top shelf and super tight.

Old 14th February 2014
  #26
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Motoxxx's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warhead View Post
All of the SSL clones in our Clipalator were tested side by side, and we used test tones to set up everything identical to make it fair before printing the result of each. You can easily hear the difference between all of them. We also put a borrowed Dramastic in there and I know many of you would be led to believe that transformers equals more bass but that is simply not the case.

They each have their own strength, and none of these (except maybe one) are miles apart from each other including the SSL.

The ones done all in the same session using exact settings are:

Chameleon Labs 7720 (stock and mod)
TK Audio BC1-S
Dramastic Obsidian (rack version)
Serpent Audio SB4001
Alta Moda Hippo
SSL Stereo Buss 500

Settings were:

4:1 ratio
Attack: 10
Release: AUTO

and are performing identical amounts of compression.

You can hear the differences in frequency response, tone and action.

War
Hey War, where is the Clipalator you speak of? I would love to check all of these boxes out as I am building a new studio as we speak and really want to add to the compression list I already have.

What is the mod on the Chameleon Labs 7720?
Old 14th February 2014
  #27
Here for the gear
 

I'm using a TK BC1 ME, I couldn't imagine a better bus comp and for the realistic dosh; I'm very happy. SSL is good but the BC1 is just as good in my opinion, if not better as you have the Carnhill on the output stage.
The other one I have is the Charter Oak SCl1 which I use on folk/acoustic but improves everything, seemingly automatically once you learn the workflow.
Old 14th February 2014
  #28
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Motoxxx View Post
Hey War, where is the Clipalator you speak of? I would love to check all of these boxes out as I am building a new studio as we speak and really want to add to the compression list I already have.

What is the mod on the Chameleon Labs 7720?
Hi, the Clipalator is here:

Clipalator: Audio and Video | Studio Gear Shootouts @ ZenProAudio.com

(requires Adobe Flash support in your browser)

The Chameleon Labs 7720 mod here at ZenPro does a few things:

1) Fixes the AUTO release to be the same as SSL
2) Enhances the audio path with a beautiful presence
3) Tightens up the left / right stereo imaging

War
Old 15th March 2014
  #29
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jrod9900's Avatar
 

I have the Serpent and CL. I also work on a 4056 E/G+ with the real thing in it. I've used the newer SSL stuff. I've never used the Smart stuff, but I have a trusted friend (industry pro with plenty of label credits) who has the C1 and C2 and loves them. The 30+ year old SSL desk comp just sounds killer. It just does "it" extremely well. The Serpent, to my ears, is the comp that best mimics the vintage comp. The newer SSL just doesn't have the life the classic comp has, it's a bit more "sterile" if I had to pick a term. The CL does a good job as a buss comp, but it's not my go-to unit. I will usually end up using the Serpent on a drum buss and the G desk on the two buss.

Whether or not the Serpent sounds identical to an actual G, I could give two ****s. It is a killer sounding unit with TONS of flexibility. The mix feature, sidechain filter, grind (subtle but awesome), and ration and release options make it one of the most useful tools out there that sounds killer.

I would like to try the Smarts and Dramastic units. I know Joe B uses the C2. His mixes straight-up rip your face off. The last Chevelle record (Hats Off To The Bull) rips your face off.

YMMV.

JROD
Old 15th March 2014
  #30
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod9900 View Post
I have the Serpent and CL. I also work on a 4056 E/G+ with the real thing in it. I've used the newer SSL stuff. I've never used the Smart stuff, but I have a trusted friend (industry pro with plenty of label credits) who has the C1 and C2 and loves them. The 30+ year old SSL desk comp just sounds killer. It just does "it" extremely well. The Serpent, to my ears, is the comp that best mimics the vintage comp. The newer SSL just doesn't have the life the classic comp has, it's a bit more "sterile" if I had to pick a term. The CL does a good job as a buss comp, but it's not my go-to unit. I will usually end up using the Serpent on a drum buss and the G desk on the two buss.

Whether or not the Serpent sounds identical to an actual G, I could give two ****s. It is a killer sounding unit with TONS of flexibility. The mix feature, sidechain filter, grind (subtle but awesome), and ration and release options make it one of the most useful tools out there that sounds killer.

I would like to try the Smarts and Dramastic units. I know Joe B uses the C2. His mixes straight-up rip your face off. The last Chevelle record (Hats Off To The Bull) rips your face off.

YMMV.

JROD
No ****, the Serpent has that 'gooey' thing down better than newer SSL stuff.
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