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SSL mixing
Old 3rd February 2003
Gear Head
Skwaidu's Avatar
🎧 15 years
SSL mixing

First of all, I'm aware of the "So what's an SSL" thread...

I am a young, nowadays PT- based engineer myself(started on 1 inch 16-track) and I have my third "real work" SSL mixing session scheduled next week, and this time I even read the manual. (The desk is an SL4000E)

I would just like to ask tips on mixing on the desk. Quad master compressor favorite settings(I love it!), cool patching tricks(like the NYC drum comp), etc.

I have not learnt the automation computer, and it seems a bit wacky to use something with 8" floppies instead of the G4
However, what if I want to maybe compress a heavily automated vocal track in the board or whatever. I'd get level control automation from Pro Tools by using it as an analog insert in PT and then back in to the desk, but even with HD192 converters this seems a bit stupid. What do you think? Granted, I fear the SSL E computer.

Old 4th February 2003
Lives for gear
Steve Smith's Avatar
🎧 15 years
If there is a good assistant with the desk, they should be able to sort out the automation for you?
Old 4th February 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
🎧 15 years
If your mixing out of PT to the SSL I'd use the SSL automation and leave the PT faders at unity gain. The compressor on the channel strip is before the fader so any automation moves are post compressor. I usually go light on the Quad Compressor. A little is a lot with that beast. But, I usually like more transparent compressors on the 2-buss.
Old 9th February 2003
Gear Head
Skwaidu's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Hmm... I live in Finland and we have no assistants, as the market and the budgets are so small. The studio I'm talking about might even be the only one with SSL's in here!

So, if I wanted to use the SSL automation, I'd have to learn it almost all on my own(Maybe with some assistance from the studio owners). At the moment that doesn't seem too viable. Still thanks for the tips and keep them coming! (Thanks, Carlos! I'll comment later.)

Old 9th February 2003
Gear Addict
Jens's Avatar
🎧 15 years

Im at the same level as you understanding the foundation of SSL automation. Except that I spent 30 minutes with the studio owner prior to mix and it isnt that hard to understand. This was a couple of months ago so I cant say that i remember much today. The desk I was behind was a 4000 G+ , don´t know if the automation works the same but they seem to have very much in common.

If I were you I´d go for the SSL Auto, I think that beeing able to control the delay of i.e the lead vocal with 100mm fader beats drawing a line in PT.

Old 11th February 2003
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Okay time to chime in... One of the most underused functions on the ssl's is the ability to automate Dessing. I still prefer this technique over the commons: SPL Desser, the DBX 902 desser, and even the waves plug in desser (probably my favorite) since you don't have to over de'ess material that doesn't need it. For the newbies, or people that don't know or just never tried it, I highly suggest you give it a whirl or at least read my incoherent console babble so you can learn something. I'll try to make it interesting. Shesh.

Step #1: Mult the vocal track (or track in question, works nicely on Hi Hats as well, but try not to limit your use of this technique) next to your vocal track, but make sure it isn't the same number of any group send in use because you'll be using your direct outputs. After this, make sure the lights are out in the studio and look at your reflection in the control room glass and flash a "G" sign. [presentation is everything, is it not?].

Step #2: Hit the CR button, which puts the eq into the channel. Filter off all the lows, even cutting lows, and boost as much as you can from 6k - 9k depending on the track in question. (Is it esses? tsks? pisses? male vocal? female? etc...) Make eye contact with your producer and do your best John Tavolta imitation and say "Ain't it cool?".

Step #3: Hit the MON button in your dynamics section. Compress with the fastest attack and release times (put up on the release knob and leave it turned full counter clockwise). Set your ratio to infinity. Your threshold should sit nice around -10 or so, again, depending on the material. At this point, smirk at your second and either go "Ayyyyeeee" like Fonzie, or "Ohhhhhhhweeeee" like Andrew Dice Clay. depending on age. [Any SNL imitations of ANY time era are strictly forbidden during this step]

Step #4: This step kinda varies depending on the console you are on. Press the DIRECT, FLOAT, and READY GROUP buttons and lift the group knob to solo iso the channel. If you are on a 9000J or 9000K analog super dealey wheelly kneely, take off LF Mix (so the large fader doesn't go to the 2 mix) and hit the LF ISO to isolate the solo of the channel. During this step you hard to push an aweful lot of buttons so reward yourself by doing a couple rolling chair, syncopated ice skating moves, depending on how crowded it is in front of the console. Think "Brian Boytano", or "Tonya Harding", no wait, "Christina Yamaguchie", yeah.. that's the ticket.

Step #5: Hit the "LINK" button of the left of the 2 channels. It doesn't matter which track is on which side, which can make finding a channel that doesn't share a group send number a little easier. Right here, look suspicious, take in a very deep breath and look around and then do nothing. Sometimes inaction gets more notice than action itself.

Step #6: Automate the large fader on the channel you hit all the buttons on as your threshold. If you are on the 9000 series, don't let the release time LED's fool you. It shouldn't really matter because your release times should be as short as possible, but if for some reason you did a 1 sec release, the LED's DO NOT represent a 1 sec release time. (never understood that LED release thing myself). Now you can bask in you glory, take off all your clothes, and dance about the studio like nature boy.

Try different varations of this to your liking and keep in mind you are techincally compressing the entire track not multiband compressing. I hardly invented it. Try using inserts on the channel. What about sending to "ess" channel to a verb for a different effect? Ever wanna "De bass" a track? If you haven't tried this, I highly suggest it as it will help you keep from over DESSING a track that only needs it here and there. Don't forget to thank "GOD" at the grammys
Old 12th February 2003
member no 666
Fletcher's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Re: SSL mixing

Originally posted by Skwaidu
Granted, I fear the SSL E computer
Name the title of the song [NAME-TITLE], define where the song begins and ends: (I'm using imaginary SMPTE numbers) TITLE-FROM- 01:00:00.00- EXECUTE or TITLE-FROM-HERE-EXECUTE... to designate the end of the song... repeat the process with the SMPTE numbers from the end of the song TITLE-TO-01:03:24.26-EXECUTE... or with TITLE-TO-HERE-EXECUTE...

Leave yourself a good 10 seconds of "runup time" before the first note of the song when you're defining TITLE FROM, and a good 10 or 15 seconds at the end when you're defining TITLE TO.

You can name the various CUES in the song should you desire... this can be especially helpful if the desk has machine control.

First pass... GOTO MIX-EXECUTE- it'll ask you a question... hit EXECUTE again... the hit play. Don't make a move subsequent to that command... that's your "base pass"... the pass on which all others will be based... so at that point, you have your basic levels... just store them.

The red lights next to the buttons on the fader will illuminate... these are the lights that indicate "absolute" status... which means everything you do will be recorded in the mix computer as a 'fresh move'.

After this pass, the lights will be green, which indicates an 'update' status... which will remember all of your earlier moves and add to them. So... say you move a fader 1db with the green light on... it'll remember all the moves you made earlier... but at the point you moved the fader 1db, it'll remember all the moves you made earlier 1db different than before.

For this reason, very often, after the "base pass"... a lot of brothers put all the faders straight across the desk at "0". That way, all their moves will be stored, and they can modify anything that needs to be changed with a common reference point for all the faders. You may or may not want to **** with it that way... I found it to make my life a little easier.

Before you move all the faders to "0"... you may want to make a pencil mark on the fader packs as to where the original level was... that way if you want to bring the fader back to "absolute" status... you'll know where it was originally. There is a computer command to show you where the fader was originally... when you're ready to use that command you'll find it in the manual... as you will with all of the "advanced user" commands... you'll find them in the manual as you're ready to start using them.

Now... if the desk is setup to do machine control... it will follow the start and end times you've programmed into the computer... and you can use the "PLAY" command... if it doesn't have machine control then you'll use the "GOTO" command.

Whenever you end a sequence, you have to hit "EXECUTE"... then read the prompts as it will sometimes ask if you want to change the status on something [to "absolute" from "update", that sort of thing]... there are others besides "absolute" and "update"... but they're kind of an advanced thing (not as advanced as the "automated de-esser", but kind of advanced none the less), and this is a basic overview on how to get started... like I mentioned before... when you're ready to start using the other commands, you'll find them all in the manual with litttle to no struggle.

The main difference between the "PLAY" and "GOTO" commands is that "PLAY" will start the machine from here ever you tell it to start the machine [TITLE, CUE ___, etc.]... so the subsequent command series for the rest of your mix endeavors will be PLAY-JOIN-MIX-FROM-HERE (or TITLE, or CUE ___, etc.) or GOTO-JOIN-MIX-FROM-HERE

With "E series" automation, you have to hit "JOIN" in the command sequence or the section you've just done won't be added to the prior passes... you'll have to add it as an "offline command" which is a pain in the balls... so if you just make sure you add JOIN to your command sequence... you'll be fine.

Now... let's say you have a really tricky bridge section... you go PLAY-JOIN-MIX-FROM-CUE "bridge"... now say you do the section great for the first 4 bars and **** up in the 5th bar. Stop the machine... rewind... hit play... and the computer will replay all the moves you just did. When you want to add more moves to a pass that's already been done... hit the REVISE button... this will bring you back to a point where you will again be recording your moves. If you're satisfied with all the **** you just did to the bridge section... hit END to store the mix... as long as you remembered to hit the JOIN command... the moves you just did will automatically be added to the rest of the mix.

So... typical mix... you name the start and end times for the song... run a "base pass". Decide you want to add mutes to the lead vocal track when the singer isn't singing... you run the sequence: GOTO-JOIN-MIX-FROM-CUE"verse1"... change the status on the fader from "update" to "absolute" [hit the button on the fader pack until the green light goes out, and the red light comes on], hit EXECUTE [you'll see the fader position graph on the little green screen in the middle of the desk] then hit 'play' to start the song from 'verse 1'.

Do the mutes on the vocal... it's OK if you miss one or two, just back up the song and hit REVISE whenever you want to correct a mistake... you can do your fader moves at this point too [it's probably a good idea to do both fader and mute at the same time when you're first learning the system... one of the 'advanced commands will be "remember mutes, write fader"... but that's for after you're comfortable working the basic system... it's all in the manual].

When you get to the end of the song... and you like the all the moves you've made... hit the END command. This will store the automation pass you just did to disk.

Once the pass is stored it will ask you to name the mix... if you just hit EXECUTE it will assign the mix a number. You can type in a description of the move you just did if you prefer... then hit EXECUTE to store the name of the mix you just typed in.

It can be pretty intimidating at first... but once you do it a few times it'll become pretty much second nature.

I generally don't touch the 'master fader' until the very last pass before I start to print mixes... or I'll do the "end fade" on the very first "base pass". To access the master fader you'll need the command "MF"... hit the "status" button [it's up near the buttons that give you machine control, etc.] and if I remember right, you'll be able to access the master fader from that menu.

Best of luck with it!!!

[disclaimer: it's been several years since I've used "E" series automation... I hope I didn't leave anything out... if I did, I sincerely apologize]
Old 13th February 2003
Gear Head
Skwaidu's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Hey, thanks everybody, especially Fletcher!

Unfortunately I'm in my third day of mixing...
The mousing around with pro tools way.
Would be fun to use the real faders more but at least I know exactly what' s happening there.

Still seems like an awful lot of command presses there

But, at least I have nice(basic) things going on in the routing... Drum comp busses, weird aux sends and stuff. The desk is great even without the automation!

Old 13th February 2003
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally posted by Skwaidu
Still seems like an awful lot of command presses there
It's actually pretty simple once you've done it a few times.

Pressing dedicated buttons on a console is quicker and easier, at least for me, than staring into a screen or two while mousing around.

With SSLs there are usually several different ways to do any given task. This diversity is kind of confusing at first, but with time, you find the ways you like best and forge your personal operating and mixing style.
Old 14th February 2003
Here for the gear
🎧 15 years
I don´t have automation on my small SSL as I said to you. I program auto moves in Ptools if I need to but as you said even so you benefit with the SSL sound Protools comb. I hope you found interesting what I sent to you...did you work the new Protools HD 192 with the SSL? send me some comments we are going to upgrade the PT.

Old 15th February 2003
Gear Head
Skwaidu's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Yes, three 192:S and a 96 totalling 40 outs from PT into a 40 channel 4000E(with a couple of G channels installed).

The sound was great! (I also used the 192:s softlim function on some drum tracks, as this project didn't pass through analog tape at any point. Worked nicely on snare!)

I still run it in 44.1khz as we had something around 100 tracks...
Are you people using higher sampling rates? How big is the benefit?

I did the vocal automation in ProTools BEFORE compressing( some vocal tracks were compressed already in PT) with a Tube- tech AND the SSL channel comp. It's harder to draw the automation but still possible. It worked ok for me.

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