Has SSL had its day?
There was a time when SSL (Solid State Logic), makers of ultra-high-end mixing consoles, was synonymous with pro recording. Indeed it was hard to find a successful single or album that had not been recorded or mixed on an SSL. And if you were an SSL-experienced recording or mix engineer, then you were in demand.
SSL sprang from nowhere in the early 1980s and, thanks largely to their powerful and intuitive automation system, soon rose to become top dog in mixing consoles, even surpassing Neve (later AMS-Neve) in sales.
But now things look rather different. Where SSL was once ubiquitous, now it is Pro Tools that contributes at some point to just about every successful recording. And if you have a high-end Pro Tools system, particularly one that includes the ProControl physical mixing surface, why would you need an SSL?
Granted, SSL is still the benchmark for top studios, but you have to consider where the trend is leading. SSL have, in the form of their AWS900 console, specifically designed to partner digital audio workstations such as Pro Tools, addressed important changes in the market.
The AWS900 features a modest twenty-four channels and, contrary to conventional SSL practice, there is no dynamics processing in the channels. This is plainly a cut-down SSL, and lately they have cut it down even more...
Would you believe that you can now buy an 8-channel SSL mixing console? Yes, you really can - it's an AWS900 with just eight channel strips filled.
All credit to SSL though for adapting to the changing market. I wish them every success. Though the heyday of the large-scale SSL console might be over, there is still room in the world for their high-class products.