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Old 10th July 2018
Lives for gear
SSL Channel Shootout (bx_SSL E/G, Waves, Duende v6, Console 1)

I took the debate and talk about the release of brainworx's new "bx_console SSL 4000 E" as reason to shoot it out against other SSL channels I own.

To make it more fun, I threw in my Stam SA-4000+ on the mixbus as well as brainworx's new "Townhouse" compressor. Settings were 30ms attack, fastest release, 4:1.
I matched those carefully for the same amount of compression, but you'll notice they have a quite different character, the bx being more heavy-handed, it does more RMS-lifting when calibrated to the same amount of compression on the needle. It sounds as if the Townhouse's fastest release sounds more similar to the .3 release on other models.

On the mixbus there's an instance of Slate VCC Buss (set to 4k E of course) before and Softube Tape after the compressor.

Session is at 44.1kHz. Audio is a set of multitracks publicly available from the Rode website, so everyone could download and compare those if interested.

I started making a quick and static mix with the bx_SSL E (default V gain and THD) and went for rather generic and trusty EQ and compression moves to make something happen fast. I added a little more highs than I found necessary to see how the contenders handle it because that's where software often falls short and gets annoying.

I then carefully measured the compression behaviour and compared the thresholds of the different channels (brands that is) to match compression between them as good as I could. EQ settings I simply copied from the original bx_SSL E mix, knowing this doesn't work 100% but it's close and more important, it does show the differences.

So all you hear in the mixes is just the channel strips with at least a little EQ and compression on everything and some basic ambience for more depth.

Then I matched the peak levels of the channels and matched the final mixes to have the same LUFS value.

The rough mix is the balance from the bx_SSL E mix with all strips bypassed, so just the raw audio tracks.

ROUGH (in fact it should be "raw")

Dropbox - SSL_rough.wav

Dropbox - SSL_rough_stam.wav

Dropbox - SSL_rough_townhouse.wav

BX_CONSOLE SSL 4000 E (Black EQ and channel "1" for all)

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-E.wav

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-E_stam.wav

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-E_townhouse.wav

with TMT engaged (channels 1 to 23 upwards through the multitracks, analog behaviour on stereo tracks):

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-E_TMT

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-E_TMT_stam

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-E_TMT_townhouse

WAVES SSL 4000 (Analog On)

Dropbox - SSL_Waves-E.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Waves-E_stam.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Waves-E_townhouse.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Waves-E_waves-comp.wav (threw the Waves Buss Comp in here for an "All Waves" setup)

CONSOLE 1 mkII (drive set to 5.0 on all instances, supposed to emulate default console saturation)

Dropbox - SSL_Console-1.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Console-1_stam.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Console-1_townhouse.wav

SSL Duende Native v6 (EQ on "E")

Dropbox - SSL_Duende-v6.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Duende-v6_stam.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Duende-v6_townhouse.wav

Dropbox - SSL_Duende-v6_duende-v6-bus-comp.wav (threw the v6 Duende Buss Comp in here for an "All Duende" setup)

BX_CONSOLE SSL 4000 G (Black/Pink EQ and channel "1" for all, with THD and V-Gain matched to the E's default value, VCC instance on mixbus changed to 4K G)

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-G_thd.wav

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-G_thd_stam.wav

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-G_thd_townhouse.wav

with TMT engaged (channels 1 to 23 upwards through the multitracks, analog behaviour on stereo tracks):

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-G_thd_TMT

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-G_thd_TMT_stam

Dropbox - SSL_bx_SSL-G_thd_TMT_townhouse

Note on Console 1:
As it lacks the Auto/Fast attack switch and although 3ms and 30ms are supposed to match them, it doesn't work that easy (at least for me) - you have to match by ear to have it feel the same. I tried the best I could. But you'll notice that for example the kick appears to be louder and pointier in the Console 1 mix although their peak level is the same. Also when soloed against the bx_SSL E kick, it feels the same, regarding compression as well as loudness and EQ.

Note on Duende Native v6:
It has a completely different gain structure than the others in the combination of threshold and auto gain makeup. Add the Peak/RMS selector and matching this one sensibly takes a lot more time and involves more fiddling and adjustment by ear rather than numbers. I did my best. What you'll notice right away is how different the EQ sounds with the same settings and the "E" switch engaged.

Have fun listening!

Last edited by JSchlomo; 16th July 2018 at 01:48 PM.. Reason: All files uploaded!