Our Guide to the SSL Production Pack Software Bundle for SSL 2 & SSL 2+
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SSL 2 and SSL 2+ are the latest in a series of audio creation tools from Solid State Logic. They aredesigned formusicians, recording artists and hobbyists who primarilyworkat home. If you’refamiliar with Solid State Logic, youprobablyknow abouttheirlegacy of professional audio hardware, including their large mixing consoles.It's fair to say that SSL 2 is a big step towards making SSL more widely accessible to new engineers and musicians. But don’t be fooled by its small size & price tag... thismay be an entry level interface, but withSSL designed preamps, 4K enhancement circuit and console grade monitoring path– it sounds seriouslygood.
Let's face it - almost all small USB interfaces like SSL 2 come bundled with software. After all, you're going to need it, especially if you're just starting out! SSL 2 and SSL 2+ each come witha pretty extensivepackage, appropriately titled the SSL Production Pack. But unlike other interfaces, SSL have included some of their very own premium plugins from their SSL Native Plugin Range. Trust us when we say you're going to want to get these downloaded and installed!
Need more convincing? Here's our guide to the SSL Production Pack...
SSL Native Plugins
First and foremost, let's take a look at those SSL Native Plugins. These are plugins designed by Solid State Logic, translating their expertise in hardware into software tools for your digital audio workstation. The hardware may be sought after, but they are the next best thing. What's more, they reside in your computer, so no need to clear out space for hefty rackmount units! (All in good time...)
- There are 10 x SSL Native Plugins in total.
- As standard you receive two when you purchase SSL 2 or SSL 2+ - Drumstrip & Vocalstrip2
- Between the 1st Nov 2020 - 31st Dec 2020, SSL are offering two additional plugins – Flexverb & X-Comp
So you effectively start off with 4 out of 10 of the collection. Pretty cool, huh? But what exactly are these plugins and how might they be useful to you? Lets dive in and learn a bit more about them.
Drumstrip (Included as standard)
First we look at Drumstrip. As the name suggests, it’s a channelstrip-style plugin designed for processing your drums and percussion. Whether you decided to record and mix acoustic drums, or use electronic kits and samplers, Drumstrip can help to add that extra punch & clarity with ease. It's one plugin, but you get 5 sound shaping modules to play with:
Gate: A common processing tool for drums. The Gate helps to tighten up your sound, eliminating any unwanted spill or sounds below the threshold set. The Gate on Drumstrip is derived from the dynamics portion of an SSL Channelstrip. It sounds really natural and can be shaped using the attack, hold and release controls.
Transient Shaper: Drums have short sharp transients, and this tool allows you to accentuate or reduce them as you see fit. It’s great for bringing out the definition of the drums, or alternatively reducing the dynamic range of peaks for a more even sound.
Low Freq Enhancer: The Low Freq(uency) Enhancer uses some of that 'SSL magic' to improve the bass content of your drums. With selectable frequency and drive controls, you can focus in on those areas that make your drums hit harder and sound phatter.
High Freq Enhancer:Similar controls to the Low Freq Enhancer, but focuses around the higher frequencies for added sparkle and clarity. The High Freq Enhancer is great for keeping you drums sounding bright without brittleness you sometimes get from more clinical EQ plugins.
Listen Mic Compressor:This module comes from a classic hardware trick. Think big '80s drum sound'. This module allows you to mix in some hefty compression to make your drums sound massive. A bit like when the engineer for a certain someone forgot to turn off the listen mic during a take...
Another useful feature Drumstrip is the flexible signal flow. You rearrange to change the order of processing and even fully bypass each module. The A/B function lets you try 2 different settings side-by-side to see which works best for your mix. A Wet/Dry control allows you to use this plugin for parallel processing too.
If all of this is a bit confusing and you're not sure where to start, SSL have also been kind enough to build in some presets!
Vocalstrip2 (Included as standard)
Vocalstrip has a very similar layout to the Drumstrip. It's a collection of 4 enhancement modules with a unique SSL twist,designed specifically to improve the character of your vocal recordings. Here's a list of the modules you have at your disposal:
Compander: This module is a combination of a compressor and an expander. It gives you extensive control over the dynamic range of your vocals, ultimately helping them power through your mix. The added Output Drive control adds some pleasing harmonic distortion into the signal.
De-esser:A simple-to-use module that removes harsh ‘ess’ or ‘tss’ sounds from your signal. You can choose between split or broadband modes to set the de-essers response. You can also monitor the targeted frequency, and set the threshold of reduction to fine tune your de-essing.
De-ploser:Works on a similar principle to the De-esser, but instead targets plosives - ‘puh’ and ‘buh’ sounds – that can add large fluctuations the signal. The same listen, frequency selection and threshold controls apply here.
Equaliser:The EQ on Vocalstrip2 has 3 bands – A smooth high-pass, asymmetric notch and ‘air’ boost. It's designed to cover areas that most commonly need equalisation. The high pass removes unwanted low end from the vocal signal, the notch can target and reduce any unwelcome frequencies and the air band allows you to add gentle boost in the higher frequencies for increased clarity. Each of these bands can be bypassed individually as required.
All these modules have clear visualisations that allow you to see how they are affecting the sound of your vocals. This is particularly useful when you want to see how hard the de-esser is working, or to help finding that nasty resonant frequncy you want to remove with the EQ. As with the Drumstrip, you have a number ofpresets to get you started, A/B selection to compare settings and you can also reorder the modules in the signal chain.
Drumstrip & Vocalstrip2 provide a great combination of elements inspired by SSL hardware, that help you to help get the best out of your drum and vocal tracks.
But what about the other two we mentioned - Flexverb and X-Comp. For a limited time, they will be included in the SSL Production Pack. Lets find out a bit more about them...
Flexverb (Limited Time Offer)
FlexVerb is a brand new fully-featured and extremely versatile SSL reverb plug-in designed to deliver a professional mix-ready sound in a quick and intuitive way. FlexVerb’s versatile split early-late reflection interface allows you to add the natural body and tone of different early room reflections, complimented by the richness of a variety of expansive reverb tail options.
FlexVerb features a 6-band EQ, High and Low Pass Filters, 3-band reverb time multipliers and input sidechain compressor to help you craft reverb that sits perfectly in your mix. FlexVerb’s algorithmic architecture gives you the depth, character and detail of a professional reverb in a simple rewarding interface.
X-Comp (Limited Time Offer)
X-Comp is a sophisticated and extremely versatile stereo compressor that cuts through the mass of freeware and bundled plug-ins available with genuinely professional features, results and interface. The audio performance, specifications, analysis tools and depth of control offered by X-Comp are exemplary.
It delivers mastering grade audio fidelity with a distinctly analogue feel and can be used for everything from ‘invisible’ subtle dynamic control for mastering, to dramatic ‘brick wall’ effects that inject raw energy and power that competes with the legendary SSL Listen Mic Compressor. Between these two extremes X-Comp can reproduce the characteristics of a wide range of modern and classic vintage compressors. In X-Comp we haven’t just modelled a particular compressor, but have provided a set of features and controls that allow the emulation of a broad range of compressor designs.
6 Month Trials: The Rest of the SSL Native Range
As you can see, SSL 2 and SSl 2+ come with a strong line up from the SSL Native plugin range at the moment. But did you know that you also get a free 6 month trial for the rest? That’s right, the entire SSL suite of plugins for FREE for half a year.So what else is there to try out?
Bus Compressor - Legendary mix compressor (6 month trial)
Based on the centre section compressor from SSL’s 1980’s G Series analogue console. It is a simple unit with a simple purpose; it makes complete mixes sound bigger, with more power, punch and drive. It brings cohesion and strength to your mix without compromising clarity. The plugin also adds Dry/Wet mix control for parallel processing, and Side Chain High-Pass Filter to avoid unwanted pumping that can be caused by low frequencies in your audio.
Channelstrip - Full SSL channel strip in one plugin (6 month trial)
The SSL Native Channel Strip delivers the legendary tone and features of an SSL console channel strip. The EQ is a classic 4-band design with parametric LMF & HMF sections and shelving LF & HF sections. The whole EQ can be switched between E & G Series characteristics. The Dynamics section offers separate Compressor and Gate/Expanders.
X-EQ 2 – Versatile full featured EQ (6 month trial)
X-EQ 2 is a highly configurable 24-band EQ plug-in, featuring unique anti-cramping algorithms for an unparalleled open and transparent sound. It’s the ultimate EQ toolkit, with 17 different EQ types and filter shapes. Each band is switchable between bell, shelf, low pass or high pass filter types, with both classic and customisable shapes available for each band. It features brand new spatial processing options, band soloing, and the classic X-EQ 'Parallel' mode for recreating the characteristic sound of old parallel passive EQ circuits.
X-Phase is an All-pass Filter plug-in that offers the user manual control and high quality response. It enables the user to apply a phase shift (sometimes called a phase offset) at a specified frequency within a signal. This is useful for fixing phase problems with microphones when recording: eg overheads causing phase problems when mixed with close mic's.
X-Saturator delivers a stunning range of analogue style distortion effects. It is an emulation of an analogue circuit that introduces either 2nd order valve style or 3rd order transistor style distortion or a blend of the two (rather like SSL’s variable harmonic distortion circuits.) At low drive settings the distortion is mild and can add gentle warming to help instruments sit nicely in a mix or to add a little extra edge to help instruments cut through a mix. As drive levels are increased so too is the level of distortion until at high drive levels heavy distortion occurs.
X-Valvecomp - warm compression and valve saturation (6 month trial)
X-ValveComp is a fully-featured mono or stereo channel compressor with a full set of classic channel compressor controls and an added 'valve' emulation stage. The valve emulation stage sits after the compressor in the signal path and adds a variable degree of primarily 2nd order harmonic saturation and distortion that thickens and colours the sound.
DAW Software - Pro Tools First and Ableton®Live Lite™
Alongside the array of SSL Native Plugins included with SSL 2 and SSL 2+, you might want to think about a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW for short) to use them with. This will be essential for recording on your computer. If you haven’t already got one, SSL have got you covered with two excellent starter options included in the Production Pack. Both have very different workflows, and may suit different styles of music, but they are both available for you to try anyway!
Pro Tools First
The light version of the industry-standard Pro Tools music production software, with an additional 23 plug-ins including the Classic Compressor Bundle: BF-2A, BF-3A and Purple Audio MC77, Fairchild 660 and Fairchild 670. Pro Tools is excellent for those who like to primarily record and edit audio.
The lightweight version of Ableton's acclaimed music creation software for musicians, producers and performers alike. Ableton is better suited to those who like a non-linear workflow, as you are able to jam with loops.
Instruments & Samples
It's often useful to have a few extra samples and virtual instruments in your audio tool kit, especially when you're just getting started. The SSL Production Pack provides you with a couple of these as well:
Native Instruments® Hybrid Keys & Komplete Start
2,000 customizable sounds – drums and percussion, bass, acoustic instruments, synths, pads and atmospheres, effects, and more in Komplete Start. Hybrid Keys lets you dig deeper by blending sampled pianos, synthesizers, mallets, and more, adding creative effects to produce completely new sounds.
SSL and Loopmasters have come together to curate a collection of ready-to-roll samples and loops for your creations, organised intuitively by genre and available through the award-winning Loopcloud app.
The SSL Production Packis one plugin in bundle that you won’t want to overlook. Many interfaces come with free software, but it's safe to say the SSL Production Pack adds a huge amount of value to the SSL 2 and SSL 2+. The 2 standard (+ 2 promotional) SSL Native plugins that you receive are extremely powerful tools, giving you the edge when it comes to mixing your tracks. Combined with the 6-month free trial for the whole bundle (worth over £1200), you get a lot of ‘bang for your buck’. Add to that the free DAW options, instruments and samples – you can see why SSL 2 and SSL 2+ are awesome way to start recording & mixing your own tracks.
Thank you for taking to read Our Guide to the SSL 2 and SSL 2+ Production Pack Software Bundle. For more information and technical specifications on SSL Native Plugins, please visit Solid State Logic's product page.