Recorded with a SSL Duality for the first time


Nov 17, 2008
Munich, Germany
Haha I'm still fucking stoked. For this semester's production we were able to record a 24-tracks song in a commercial studio (Dorian Gray Studio 2). Said studio recently acquired a 24 channel SSL Duality console :tickled:
The Duality features the SSL "super-analogue" preamps with the option for each channel to use the VHD preamps with more harmonic distortion for a more coloured result. both the E and G series equalizer and the SSL dynamics section, and of course the SSL bus compressor. All signals went through the analogue console first and were only tracked with ProTools HD - everything like monitor mixes, EQ, gating and compression was done completely otb.

Honestly, I was very sceptical about big consoles or even analogue consoles in general - why would someone want to pay 100.000€ for this thing when you can get a lot more inputs and just buy some nice outboard EQs and compressors?
Well now I think I somehow understand. The concept of this console is really really nice and has a very smooth workflow. Although the signal flow is fully analogue, you still get the advantages of the digital domain like DAW control, total-recall and automation. Some examples: As I said you can choose between the normal, clean preamps and the VHD preamps. You can switch with one simple button - And the gain knob manages the gain for both preamps, you have a second switch to add harmonic distortion without altering the loudness at all. Fucking amazing. Same goes for the EQs, you can switch between the normal EQs and the more musical EQs with one button (the difference is very noticable). These are rather small features but they make listening and comparing sounds a lot easier. Needless to say the compressor has a auto-makeup-gain feature, so you can deactivate it and really hear what the compressor is doing to the sound and you're not deceived by the different loudness. And you can switch the order of how the mic/line signal hits the analogue parts (Filters, Gate, Compressor, EQ, where the return signal comes back etc.) with a few buttons.

Then there's the digital domain where you can control virtually any parameter of ProTools or other DAWs. It has a lot of TFTs for each channel and also one for controlling the DAW (plugins, setups, etc.). For example, the console can show you which knobs you have altered in your session so you can easily reset the whole console.

By the way while I still find it hard to tell whether plugins or analog compressors really make a noticable difference, I can definitely vouch for analog equalizers over plugins - at least for musically boosting frequencies. I need to get some good equalizers soon :lol:

It's probably the same feeling everyone has after he/she used a "big" / high-end console for the first time but this is seriously awesome. Just thought I'd share this with you. What do you guys think of such consoles or what were your experiences? Do you share my delight or do you think they're overrated, overpriced relics? Or that the gained ease in workflow and probably "better" sound is worth the money (if you have it)?
Personally I don't think the sound aspect would make me buy an SSL / API / whatever console. But the sound combined with the great features and usability really made me overthink my former opinion. :Spin: (I know of course that I will never ever have the money to buy one)

PS: The pre's have fucking +75db gain, that's pretty rad imo (hello there, SM7b)
I've used the duality as well. It's a pretty cool console although I thought it had a lot of "bells and whistles". Definitely fun to track drums with. I really like the pres, in fact, I have a SSL alpha vhd preamp with the same harmonic distortion capability that the SSL has. Adding some 3rd harmonic saturation on snare and distorted guitars always is a win.

A more realistic console for me would be a AWS. More straight-forward for me. I think those have the same HUI controls for protools that the duality has. Glad to see some console love here!
haha i think the lack of console love is more due to the lack of finances required to purchase said consoles.
I'm in a class right now were I have to use the Duality for most of my projects and let me just say it is a headache most of the time. There are so many functions on the console it gets confusion, but its definitely worth the headache because the end results sound amazing. And I love the four band EQ that follows the filters. It can be voiced as an E Series, or you can press the G-EQ button
to switch to the classice G series curves. With Hi and Low shelf bands that can be switchedto bell shapes with fixed Q. And the EQ may be
sourced before or after the balanced insert
points that may be engaged with the Insert In buttons. :worship:

But I only have little experience on the Duality and hopefully i get better over time does anyone have any tips?
I haven't had the chance to use a Duality but I do love the SSL stuff for mixing. Tracking, ehh, but that also makes me a snob haha. Not many options otherwise usually. I had the chance to track on this puppy, and it was NOT easy to understand. From what you say, the Duality would be much easier.

Yes it is complicated, but reading the manual and practicing with the console as much as you can (if possible) really helps. We had a number of courses and could use the studio from time to time to practice, in the end with your teampartner for the production kind of as a "dress rehearsal". It worked, we had to figure out some things but our combined knowledge saved us ;)

I ended up being the only one in my class (I think, or perhaps there was one other guy) also mixing with only the console + outboard gear. Everyone else used PT for everything, I didn't except for one automation. Mixing on it was probably even cooler than tracking, and I'd do it again if I could. Only using the computer (in this case ProTools) definitely limits in some points but gives an advantage in others.