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"That SSL Sound"
Old 24th May 2008
  #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
In the thirty some odd years I have been doing tis professionally I have seen A LOT of mixers and engineers come and go into an out of fashion.
So, who cares what any guy mixing someone else's record uses?
Can you afford to mix on an SSL?
Do you know how to mix on an SSL?
If so... go for it!

The digital and ITB crowd says that all you need to do is learn to mix ITB and you will get a good mix.Other guys say it can't be done.
Before ITB mixing I used to hear the same comments about SSLs or what-ever console someone might want to trash.
Most often it was comments from guys who didn't own the console they were trashing.
Most had never mixed on that kind of console.
They'd have a TASCAM maybe and they'd be trashing an SSL.
Either that or they didn't even own a console.

So, if the ITB "lesson" of all you need to do is LEARN to mix ITB and it'll sound good works there, it should work with ANY decent console, too!

The only "signature" of an SSL is that it gives you the ability to "bend" your tracks via EQ or compression.
There are LOT'S of chances for you too ruin things with compressors on each I/O channel.
The EQ can be quite drastic if over-used.
It can get harsh or over-EQ'd really quick.
Power equals the chance to goof stuff up.

The big name mixers used SSLs because of versatility... repeatability... flexibility and mostly the Total Recall.
The powerful automation helps in record mixing.
SSLs were designed as a mixing tool.

They also used the same dBx or Aphex VCAs as a MCI 500 series.
Those VCAs alone imparted a huge sonic imprint.
From a purist point of view, I concur.
From a practical/creative point of view, I don't.

There's a sound you can get from an SSL that you can't get from any other console.
That sound is created when you "ruin things"!

Some of the most revered guitar tones among many people are those of Led Zep (Whole Lotta Love) and the Beatles (Revolution). Both tones were created by using a piece of equipment in a different manner than it was designed.
Some of us LIKED the sound of all those op amps and VCA's,,, the grainy EQ was a plus, and the console would start to sound "good" when there were plenty of red "warning" led's flashing! Maybe that is not the sound that you prefer, but it had (has) its place.

Over-drive a guitar amp, and you have created something new. I don't think Jim Hall would be thrilled with Jimi's tone. Drums sound different when you saturate analog tape. Is this what the scientists envisioned when they invented tape?

To each his own.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #32
Gear Maniac
The thin sound of SSL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by uptoolate View Post
This has been covered to some degree, but I'm looking for a song or two that really have "That SSL Sound"

I know lots and losts of tunes have it, but what are some songs that really sound unmistakably SSL?

Thanks
ASIA. The band's first album. (Pretty sure it was done on a SSL. But don't hold my feet to the fire on it.) It's a good mix. Nice thick drums. Everything is a wash in early digital reverb. Nice and thin to me. Too bad the ASIA album master was lost in the Universal fire of 2008. I heard it from a guy who heard it from a guy who was working at the Universal vault in California.

In our larger mixing room B we have a SSL 4048G/G+ board from 1995. (24 year old mixer!) And we have an old large format TSM Trident board from the 80's. Nice and thick. A mixer with attitude. When Uncle Jack left his old job back in Vancouver the owner was getting rid of his SSL board. So Uncle Jack got it at a good price. $80 000 USD or something?? That's what it went for then.
It needed some ahhh...mmmm...work. We do quite a lot of mixes on it. SSL was known for having a clean sound. It lacked grit or personality or character or whatever. But if you want that classic clean SLL sound you can't beat it. please don't beat the SSL!

I don't buy the boards....I just use them.

Last edited by john morris; 3 weeks ago at 07:44 PM.. Reason: addition, mistake and correction
Old 3 weeks ago
  #33
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by paultools View Post
From a purist point of view, I concur.
From a practical/creative point of view, I don't.

There's a sound you can get from an SSL that you can't get from any other console.
That sound is created when you "ruin things"!

Some of the most revered guitar tones among many people are those of Led Zep (Whole Lotta Love) and the Beatles (Revolution). Both tones were created by using a piece of equipment in a different manner than it was designed.
Some of us LIKED the sound of all those op amps and VCA's,,, the grainy EQ was a plus, and the console would start to sound "good" when there were plenty of red "warning" led's flashing! Maybe that is not the sound that you prefer, but it had (has) its place.

Over-drive a guitar amp, and you have created something new. I don't think Jim Hall would be thrilled with Jimi's tone. Drums sound different when you saturate analog tape. Is this what the scientists envisioned when they invented tape?

To each his own.

When we look back on the equipment of old we often describe it as: warm, gritty, fat, tubby bass of old tube equipment, etc. And it's true. If you mix through a REDD board your track will have that classic 60's tube sound. And we love this sound. It's one of the reasons engineers like Steve Hoffman doesn't like remixes.

Say you have an album that was recorded on a Scully 284-8 (one inch 8 track) and mixed through a tube mixer. The album had the character of hundreds of tubes and transformers. Golden!

Now the remix: The engineer will play back the tape on a modern solid state machine and remix it through either a digital mixer (ITB / OTB) or a transformerless mixer like an SLL. And for good reason. Modern equipment has better specs. Lower distortion, wider frequency response, lower wow and flutter, etc. The remix will sound cleaner and have more, detail and more bass etc but the soul of the mix will be lost.

But when they built those tube: mixers, tape machines and compressors of old those engineers were trying to build the best and cleanest professional equipment that they could. Those engineers would have been insulted back then if anyone had uttered, "I love that fat tubby bass and laid back midrange from you 20 channel mixer you built."
The engineers back then weren't trying to get a tubby fat bass or a laid back (on lorazepam) midrange. Their intent was to build the best mixer or the best 8 track they could. Neutral and flat. Those engineers did not intend for their professional equipment to have certain sound. But they did.

Last edited by john morris; 3 weeks ago at 03:12 PM.. Reason: mistake
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