Solid State Logic
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|Headquarters||Begbroke, Oxfordshire, UK|
|Colin Sanders (founder)|
4000 series console
9000 series console
Xlogic rackmount series
Duende rackmount DSP
Number of employees
Founded in 1969, SSL has since expanded to its present 15 acre (61,000 m2) science park in Oxfordshire, England. The company invents, designs and manufactures technology for the manipulation of sound and the production and delivery of video.
One of the first SSL consoles (in fact the first in the UK, and only the second console sold) was a 4000B installed at The Townhouse Studios on Goldhawk Road in London. The earliest 4000E console was at Battery Studios London. RG Jones in London, closely followed by Eden Studios and Sarm Studios. Eden had a 48-channel console with integral patch and automation using 8" floppy drives. Sarm East had a 40-channel console with remote patchbay and automation with 8" floppy drives. Both consoles had Total Recall enabling console settings (and hence mixes) to be recalled & remade with a high degree of accuracy.
SSL analogue and digital audio consoles are used in both pre- and post-production for film, audio, video and broadcast sound. Notably, in May 2001, Studio 3 at Abbey Road Studios was refurbished with a 96-channel SSL 9000 J series console, the largest SSL console in Europe. Westlake Recording Studios in West Hollywood, California, which also makes extensive use of SSL consoles, was fitted out with an SSL 9000 K console in its main studio in 2013.
SSL also produces rackmount audio hardware for use in recording studios.
In 2005, musician Peter Gabriel and broadcast entrepreneur David Engelke became majority shareholders of the company; the SSL 4000 had previously been used to achieve the gated reverb drum sound on Gabriel's "Intruder" in 1980. The change of ownership has seen some changes in strategy for the company including new product releases to address the fast-changing state of the pro-audio marketplace. The proprietary aptX-codec was sold in a management buyout. (On 1 March 2005, APT Licensing Ltd. was incorporated in Belfast.)
The company was sold to Audiotonix Group in 2017.
In 2003, SSL entered the rackmount market with semi-modular offering from its 9000K console including its first channel strip. By moving to surface mount technology, SSL have been able to offer selected features of their large format consoles at prices more affordable to smaller studios and committed home recording enthusiasts.
2005 saw the release of further rack mount units such as the E-series channel strip and the X-rack. The XLogic G Series Compressor unit is a 1U rack mounting stereo compressor. It utilises the classic SSL G Series center compressor design elements within a Super-Analogue design topology.
Analogue Workstation SystemEdit
In late 2004, SSL launched AWS 900, an integrated analogue console and DAW controller. Bearing in mind the considerable, £50,000+ entry level price tag for this smallest of SSL desks, the unit has proved popular. SSL now lists over 300 studios using the AWS900; they received a TEC Award in 2005 for this new design. 2006 saw the release of its successor, AWS 900+. The most recent updates include the AWS 916, 924, and 948 supporting the delta control plug-in.
In late 2006, SSL launched the Duality, a large format console that is similar to an XL9000K, with the control surface features of the AWS 900. The duality features updated signal routing controls, accessible from the console's center section rather than on each channel. The console's channel strips include both E-Series & G-Series equalization, which is selected via a single button per channel. The Duality was also designed with 'Variable Harmonic Drive', or VHD preamplifiers. These microphone/line preamps can be operated as standard low-distortion preamps, or in a mode which introduces 2nd (even) & 3rd (odd) order harmonic distortion.
Further releases in 2006 include the Duende DSP, platform designed to emulate SSL console-grade audio quality for home recording enthusiasts. Based on the digital technology behind SSL's C-Series consoles, Duende is designed to integrate into Digital audio workstation environments using a FireWire cable connection, though a PCI-e card is also available. The digital processing channels appear as audio plug-ins. The system supports Steinberg VST, Apple Audio Units and Digidesign RTAS, (support via Fxpansion wrapper).
Using the system DAW users can emulate SSL channel strip features including filters, SSL E and G series EQ and dynamics processing. The system also allows access to the SSL Stereo Bus Compressor, a very popular facility of large format SSL consoles. On 25 April 2007, SSL announced the release of another plug-in for the Duende, called Drumstrip, which contained a noise gate, a transient shaper, high frequency and low frequency enhancers, and the Listening Mic Compressor.
Also in 2006, the company also announced its expansion into broadcast video content management and delivery with their MediaWAN system.
Existing large console marketEdit
SSL large format consoles remain popular. Both the 9000-series consoles and the older 4000 series consoles are discontinued, but there is still a huge second hand market and a number of third party companies that are offering spare parts for these consoles. In 1996 Billboard Studio Action Chart reported that 83% of number one singles that year had been produced using an SSL board. The company claims that more platinum albums have been recorded on SSL mixing consoles than any other company's equipment combined.
The company began with the SSL 4000A series consoles. A total of two were built and sold.
The SSL 4000B was first built in 1976 with the first delivery to Abbey Road Studios in London and the second to Le Studio in Montreal. Virgin's Townhouse Studios in London and Record Plant in Los Angeles also used 4000B consoles for many years.
The SSL 4000 G-Series (including the G+) continues to be popular among mixing engineers in Rock and Pop genres. Notable mixing engineers using the 4000-Series are Bob Clearmountain, Chris Lord-Alge, Tom Lord-Alge, Andy Wallace, Mark "Spike" Stent, Will Schillinger and Alan Moulder. In 2005, platinum-selling Bristol band Massive Attack based their new studio facility around a 4056 G+ Special Edition console. SSL claim that the 4000 has been the mixer behind more platinum selling albums than all other consoles combined except the MCI series of consoles that did most of the classic hits in the 70's and 80's. SSL's first 4000E (serial #001) is currently in service at Sonic Ranch Recording Studios in Tornillo, Tx.
According to chief engineer of Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, the 4000 series is responsible for "mixed more number one records that any other console that's ever been built or probably ever will be built". Tree Sound Studios 4000B console in studio 11, named for the console's serial number, was purchased in 1993. It was originally purchased by Le Studio in Montreal where it was used from 1980-1985 recording such albums as Rush's Moving Pictures.
5000 was one of Solid State Logic's most esoteric and expensive mixing consoles. Primarily used in the film and broadcast industries. Disney, Mediaset, SAE and Skywalker Sound, among others, employed them in their facilities, though the console was plagued with design faults and a poor automation system. SSL made only 120 desks, often customised to customer requirements, but then was deemed too expensive to support and develop. One senior SSL executive was quoted as saying "the desk was an absolute nightmare from start to finish and almost crippled the company."
6000 series has six mix buses. Three stereo. A, B, and C. The 6000 has an additional stereo program bus compared to the 4000. E series equalizers: Low and high shelving equalizers, which can be switched to bell curves. These are normally 'black' equalizers. Low frequency equalizer controls have color caps. Similar to the 4000 series of classic consoles, the SSL 6000 E-Series was very popular among mixing engineers in Rock, Pop & Hip Hop genres. Notable mixing engineers and producers using the 6000-Series were James "Jimbo" Barton, Keith Olsen and artists ranging from Whitesnake and Kiss to Fleetwood Mac and Tupac Shakur.
The 9000 J and K series have been widely acclaimed for use in R&B, Classical and Pop genres. Wyclef Jean, formerly of the Fugees, has equipped his Platinum Sound studio with two control rooms, one with a J-series and the other boasting a K-series console.
- C100 On-Air Broadcast console.
- C200 Production Console.
- C300 Post-production consoles.
- C10 On-Air console.
In its infancy, SSL was the first firm to manufacture solid-state control systems for pipe organs. The name 'Solid State Logic' was coined by founder, Colin Sanders, to explain the then modern technology of transistor and FET switching to organ builders. Sanders' real enthusiasm was for music recording and he built mixing consoles for his recording studio, Acorn Studios, in Stonesfield, Oxfordshire. Sanders was killed in a helicopter crash on January 28, 1998.
The organ division was sold in 2002 and is now known as Solid State Organ Systems. Shortly after, artist Peter Gabriel became the majority shareholder in Solid State Logic. In 2017, SSL became part of the Audiotonix Group, while Gabriel became a major investor in the group following this transaction.
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- Solid State Organ Systems.
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