A small slice of gear lust

Well I don’t often enthuse about music tech gear here, cos to the non-electronic musician it’s a bit irrelevant and probably fairly dull. So for anyone who doesn’t have a passionate electronic musician’s interest in firewire plug-ins and EQ can probably skip this post.

Good, you’re still reading. A sensible decision, bravo!

So, I’m about to embark on the completion and mixing of our second album, and to make it a bit more fun and hopefully to make it sound super sweet I have bought an SSL Duende Mini, which is an external firewire box that contains 16 mono channels of EQ and dynamics. That might sound a bit dull, but it represents one of these:

This is an SSL XL 9000K SuperAnalogue mixing desk, and it will set you back around ¬£100k, minimum. I don’t actually know how much it costs as it’s not the sort of thing they give a list price for. SSL pretty much own the top end mixing desk market and any proper ‘big’ studio go will have one, or a Neve, or a couple of other ‘Ferrari’ level makes.

Despite being founded in 1969 (in Oxford), SSL are moving with the times and have released the Duende Mini, which is based on the 9000K above. I say ‘based on’: what they’ve taken is the EQ and dynamics (compressor) that you find on each channel strip. The obvious difference is that you only get 16 channels on the Mini, and the above is a 64 channel monster with aux-busses, automation, and god knows what else.

Actually, I do know what else: as a demo addition to the Mini, they include the ‘Bus Compressor’ from the above (which is different from the channel compressor), and if that isn’t a button that should be marked ‘please make my song sound like an expensive record’, then I don’t know what is. Unfortunately that demo times out after 10 hours, so I’m going to have to use it sparingly!

Which isn’t to say that the EQ & dynamics it does come with aren’t great, cos they are. Frighteningly good in fact – and I’m going to have to be sparing with them to begin with, as I suspect it’s as easy to ruin a record with them as to make a great one. It’s gonna be fun learning!

The other exciting thing is that this isn’t an ’emulation’ of SSL EQ – it is SSL. For only a few hundred quid. This sort of thing is what makes being a modern electronic musician such a thrill.

So, hopefully when I start posting demos of our new tunes, you’ll notice a difference (for the better!), and if not let me know, and I’ll ask for a refund.


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