Need help from experienced SSL mixing engineers



Dear Pros - please help me out:

We are about to finish off our new studios and install the SL 4056 G/G+. My questions concern two important aspects of this particular equipment: its ergonomics and how they relate to the "history" of pop/rock music mixing/recording. Please forgive my long-windedness and multi-level questions.

(1) Seeing the long succession of SSL consoles since the B series, what do you find is the most significant change in functionality from B and E series throughout the numbers G - J - Ks? What can you do on one series, but not on the other? What would you do on one vs the other? I am aware of changes in the electronics/eq/bus compressors and the consequences on the sound, but I am curious to address those who have spent many hours working on this style of console.

(2) The sound of the consoles are often described as "crunchy" (G,E), "extended bottom, smooth top" (J). Given any other console/ mix situation, could you actually pick out the sound of a console in a recording? How would YOU describe the sound?

(3) Given specific mix situations, which are the creative possibilities and what are the Mixing CLICHES that are UNIQUE to SSL consoles and cannot easily be duplicated by other mixing consoles? Have you ever found yourself longing for a specific console's routing system/computer automation functionality/ espresso machine outlet?

Thank you so much - your help is invaluable.


I'm going to skip the objective stuff (apart from saying that the J/K are a different animal altogether, and sound utterly superb!) and cover a couple of practical matters.

The E/G are basically the same, there was a continuous evolution throughout the console's life, but the E/G difference is the computer. The 'G' series was launched with diferent EQ's but the user preference was for the older E series EQ and before long the vast majority were sold with the later 82E242 ("black-knob") EQ, so the change from E to G was really just a computer change, that happened to be marked by a change of EQ and input amplifiers... the EQ change was largely reversed due to the preferences of the users, and I believe that the Mic Pre (which had a switched, stepped gain on the later 'G' mic pre) could also be supplied as an E-series (continuously-variable transformerless -82E149- or transformer -82E01-) mic pre if the user desired... There was less objection to the mic pre changes than the almost open revolt against the G-series EQ.

The last G's were designated "G+" and came with phasescopes, infra-red talkbacks and a couple of other insignificant bolt-on goodies, but it was like sticking a spoiler and a pinstripe on the same basic car...

The SSls pioneered the idea of supercue, of true mixed cue where the engineer could audition a blend of group-output and tape-return. They included well thought-out switching to eliminate the "phaser" effect of digital multitrack through-delay, they invented recall. They made the first studio control system, where a single switch put the machine from sync into repro, switched the console into mix status, re-enabled studio monitors, disabled red lights... basically, they made things logical, helpful and easy.

Of the many many people who have claimed they can identify a Neve, API, SSL or Amek mix blindfolded, NONE have ever been able to do so. I have had the great pleasure of not only teching, but recording multi-platinum albums on all of the great consoles. Some might sound a little better than others, but none have ever hindered me... and while the humble G-series might not be the best-sounding -I'm being honest here- it is the most assistive and helpful console ever built. Even the later J and K-series hinder ever so slightly by comparison, since the great extra automation power that they give to the user generally adds a little extra complexity.

My favourite sounding console ever? the Amek 9098i.

My happiest console to work on? -The G-series.

Do I have even the slightest hesitation about working on a G? -None, as long as it's well-maintained. (and they are VERY very easy to work on indeed!)



mixing cliches?

Thank you very much for your interesting comments SSLTECH!
I find it particularly interesting (and revealing) that you find nobody can pick out the sound of a mixing console, since this is defacto the point that is always being considered by many. :wink:

One more question I do have:

HOW does working on an SSL G series affect you creative decisions and because of that what, if any, mixing cliches are paramount to this kind of equipment?

Many thanks, cheers