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the mindset of any new console it doesn’t take long before you find yourself getting used to the controls. There is a feeling of fluidity between the multi-gesture touchscreen UI and the control surface with its distribution of processing power. It feels effortless to jump straight to parameters and edit them, including inserting new effects without any drop in audio. The idea of having a single screen with large graphics that are easy to manipulate by touch is so simple but effective. The Live exhibits its SSL

heritage in two ways: Firstly, it uses all of SSL’s digital algorithms from EQ through to reverbs. It has the simulated analogue EQs, compressors, and the famous bus comp and effects, which all sound great. I tried out the bus comp in the only way I knew how from regularly using an analogue one and, to my surprise, Jason remarked, “So you’ve used one before then?” It hadn’t occurred to me, as I was just punching in some standard settings, but

sure enough it behaved just as expected (and on a touchscreen too). There are also a few very

neat sonic features SSL has introduced with this console. There is a new ‘tube warming’ feature on the channel compressors, which is out of this world. Before you apply any other processing on the channel, or even edit the compressor’s threshold, the simple action of enabling the tube warmth is really distinct. I’m now left waiting for the plug-in version to have in my DAW in the studio.

Another unique feature is

the addition of an all-pass filter on every full processing channel. All-pass filters are not something you regularly see but they make perfect sense. With so many potential phasing issues when working live I can see these simple to use all-pass filters being considered as a closely regarded secret by many engineers. Even though the Live holds all of the heritage and prestige that comes along

with the SSL name don’t be fooled into thinking it misses out on the benefits of digital audio. It wasn’t until I had been mixing for a while that I realised the amount of processing power the console has. Inserting effects and changing the order of the signal processing paths on each channel is simple and fluid, unlike some other live consoles. With this architecture, SSL is now also introducing something called stem groups, which are very much like normal subgroups but with the capability of full processing and effect inserts like standard input channels. Additionally, unlike normal sub-groups, stem groups can be routed to other stem groups or auxes to allow for flexible mixes.

AROUND THE CORNER Along with the release of this new hardware is, of course, the first release of its software, which has been completely purpose built by SSL and isn’t based on any commonly found operating system. This has given SSL

the ability to fine-tune every aspect of the digital domain for audio. As this is still early days, there are a number of updates already planned for release with some exciting new features. For now, SSL has been focusing hard on making sure the system is as stable as possible. One additional feature that is still in development is remote control for the console and expansion features. As yet we are not sure of how this will be implemented, or what it will entail, but it’s important to know that there have been plans for such features from very early on in the design process.


CONCLUSION The new Live console from SSL certainly lives up to expectations. It encapsulates everything I’d hope to see from an SSL console in terms of quality, build, and sonic reproduction. At the same time, it has a few tricks to excite even the most experienced engineers and surprised me with the fresh approach to digital processing. This is a truly remarkable pro audio release.


is a full-time sound engineer and record producer. After a stint as senior engineer at City Studios in Cyprus where he headed up the new music studio, he can now mostly be found at Woodbury Studios in Hertfordshire.

• Up to 976 inputs and outputs connected with 192 internal audio paths running at 96kHz and 64 bit

• 19in multi-gesture touchscreen control • More than 30 SSL effects processors • Extremely flexible processing power allocation and I/O architecture

Jory MacKay speaks further with SSL Live console product manager Jason Kelly about the history, and importance, of this new desk.

interface should be intuitive and, as far as humanly possible, liberate the engineer to focus as much of his/her attention on the creative process as possible. So we’ve taken an approach to the control surface that supports different ways of working and utilises the latest touchscreen technology. Naturally we had to make a console with unrivalled sonic performance but also with the robustness that touring gear demands.

Tell me how the SSL Live project started. Why was it the right time for SSL to move into the live industry? Creating a console for live audio production has been a part of the SSL development plan since 2006 when the current owners of SSL took over. The actual development for the console has taken over two years. A considerable number of high-profile people in the live sector asked us to do it. It seems there was a strong desire for a live console with the

audio quality and tone of SSL and for a control surface with the elegant ergonomics SSL is known for in other sectors.

What was the initial thought/design process behind the desk? How did you decide on the shape/ergonomics? This was very much a ground up development. As with other applications, we first consulted with the engineers in each specific sector. A core design philosophy is that the

How does the SSL Live meet the demands of the modern FOH engineer? It gives them a superb sounding console and a collection of excellent processing tools within a great control surface. Live gives them plenty of processing power, a wealth of connectivity options and an open architecture approach that lets engineers lay out the console in a way that suits each individual project. The combination of gestural multi-touch screen technology with assignable hardware controls and a high degree

of visual feedback helps them keep in control of the show and deliver a great performance.

What are some of the SSL Live’s key features that set it apart from the competition? As with many designs, it’s the combination of features – and how well they work together – that differentiates one solution from another. Familiarity with a particular product and how it works understandably gives you a particular perspective. The Live console adapts well to a variety of approaches and will be readily adopted by mixers with diverse backgrounds. There are a number of unique features such as the 30 SSL effects processors, the full size effects GUIs, the low latency performance (<1.5mS mic to IEM including effects), the Eyeconix displays, the multi-touch touchscreen, the versatility and flexibility of the routing architecture that contribute to this; and of course we hope that the audio quality will set new standards.

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