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SSL Vs TLA

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SSL Vs TLA

Postby cma- » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:17 am

Dear all

For a small analog console at home - for tracking instruments individually
Which would be better to get

TL Audio Fat Tracker
TL Audio M1
SSL SiX

I was toying between the two TL Audio consoles then the SiX was released, would it be a better choice? Less noise? Better EQ? Better compression? Better work flow?

Don’t worry about the cost as they are all pretty similar, M1 a little bit more.
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:12 pm

I have a lot of respect for TLA gear, but in the company of SSL I'd take the SSL every time. But I haven't tried it, so...

Then again, are you specifically wanting to put valves in your recording path?
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby Dave B » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:19 pm

The Elf wrote:Then again, are you specifically wanting to put valves in your recording path?

+1. The TLA stuff is deliberately designed to be coloured. If you like that colouring, then they are great. The SSL should be quite clean. Of the two, I'd be looking at clean. YMMV
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby Wonks » Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:50 pm

The SSL SiX only has a two-band fixed frequency shelving EQ, so for recording individual instruments, it's not a particularly versatile tone shaper. The compression on the SiX isn't that adjustable, and doesn't suit some types of sounds. It's got a very clean signal path, so isn't likely to add anything to the sound of a standard AI preamp. Yet again. it won't take anything away.

If you want to be able to colour the sound as it goes in, then the SSL's probably not the unit for you. But whether any of the TLAs are the answer, I don't know.

Have you considered any other channel strips? The UA 6176 for example?
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby The Korff » Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:00 pm

How many sources/musicians do you want to record at the same time? The M1 has a lot more preamps than the SSL, and would favour a traditional recording setup where you've got multiple musicians, each needing their own foldback mixes, at the same time (and would also be better for mixing on, with its many faders more comprehensive EQ). The SSL is geared much more towards a modern/cut-down recording environment, where you're recording maybe 1 or 2 musicians at a time, and mixing in the box (but with the benefit of those nice analogue compressors to use on the mix and/or busses).

In some ways you get more features on the TLA M1, but the corollary is that the SSL will have lower noise, wider bandwidth, greater 'fidelity'.
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby cma- » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:06 pm

Hey thanks a lot for each post you have all given me a lot to think about.

I will be mainly recording myself, occasionally another person also.

I like the M1 because I can have my synths all plugged and ready to go. But your right it is for recording more instruments at once.

I have seen the UA 6167 but forgot about it. Hmmmm very interesting idea.

I want to record all analog on the way in, so I suppose a bit of valve/tube colour is nice and driving the compressor hard.

I think the M1 is better that the Fat Track but I like the way that if you had the Fat track you would use all of it in different ways, and get to know it. I assume the SSL is like that too.

On the videos I have seen on YouTube the SSL really changes the sound interms of depth and presence.

I need a little more investigation.
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:05 pm

cma- wrote:On the videos I have seen on YouTube the SSL really changes the sound interms of depth and presence.
As I said, I haven't used the SiX, but if there's one word I'd use for SSL's SuperAnalogue technology it is... 'transparency'. It changes nothing - ultra clean. If the SiX is genuinely in the SuperAnalogue family I would expect to get out exactly what I put in, barring any deliberate processing within the mixer itself, of course.

What you *should* hear is a 'fade to black' behind the sound as the SA circuitry adds so little self-noise it is almost disconcerting.

I think that YouTube has a lot to answer for when it comes to 'informed' decisions on how gear sounds! :lol:
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby cma- » Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:34 pm

I’m by no means an expert, but I think the channels on the SiX get bussed together and that’s what makes the sound fuller.

I am intrigued by the UA 6176, has amazing reviews.

Sometimes I wonder if studio items get created because there is a home studio market, so it’s a money making venture.
Between that and genuine studio hear that can help you create the sounds you want. Hope that makes sense....

I’d like a basic set up but with versitle gear that gets used lots. I like the sound of Tom Waits, beautiful and imperfect. I like Lofi, I don’t want to sound like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga super high fidelity
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:02 pm

cma- wrote:I’m by no means an expert, but I think the channels on the SiX get bussed together and that’s what makes the sound fuller.
If this were the case it would be a very badly designed mixer! Whatever you are hearing, this is not the reason.

Maybe what you are hearing is some of the processing, dynamics, or tonal, in the SiX that is being used to enhance the audio.
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:12 pm

cma- wrote:
I am intrigued by the UA 6176, has amazing reviews.

Sometimes I wonder if studio items get created because there is a home studio market, so it’s a money making venture.
Between that and genuine studio hear that can help you create the sounds you want. Hope that makes sense....

The 6176 is pretty good.. even better a LA610 chained to a 1176 :)

Of course they’re doing it for the home or small studio market! :) If they had to rely on large studios they’d be bankrupt in no time.

But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is not the kit. Put a 1176 in a crappy room and a random mic location and it’ll sound crappy. What makes you create the sound you want is the ability of choosing the right position and find - or make - a nice room.. recording skills in other words. Having a Ferrari doesn’t make you as race driver, and the first step in becoming one is to realize that you’ve got to learn to drive fast whatever car you use.
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:20 am

cma- wrote:I’m by no means an expert, but I think the channels on the SiX get bussed together and that’s what makes the sound fuller.

Every mixer busses the channel signals together. That's what a mixer does!

But the Elf is right; the SiX is a very neutral and transparent sounding mixer. To my ears you get out what you put in -- not added depth and presence... Unless you fiddle with the channel,EQ and compressor, of course! ;-)
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby cma- » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:12 am

Thanks for all the comments.

Is it best to record and then use EQ and compression during the mix?
Or do you use EQ and compression while tracking?

If it is best to record the sound of the instruments/vocals without EQ or compression - is there really a need for a desk like the TL Audio or SSL.

For me, once it’s in the box I stay in the box, so maybe I should just use my Apollo and save the money.
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:36 am

cma- wrote:Is it best to record and then use EQ and compression during the mix?
Or do you use EQ and compression while tracking?

On the days of analogue tape it was often necessary to EQ and compress while tracking to overcome the inherent deficiencies of the tape format. That requirement is no longer present with digital recording.

However, there is still an argument to make recording decisions early and record the sound you need in the mix, so there's no reason not to EQ and compress on the way in -- as long as you are confident of what you need. It's obviously harder to 'undo' incorrect processing in the mix subsequently. In general, though, it's more common now to record flat and process only in the mix.

If it is best to record the sound of the instruments/vocals without EQ or compression - is there really a need for a desk like the TL Audio or SSL.

Good question... and the answer for many is a resounding NO. Hence the prevalence of systems that only use an interface rather than a console.

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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:47 am

There is no 'best'. Some prefer to process on the way in; some will undertake a small amount of processing with a view to adding more later; many will not process at all and leave it to decide in context of the mix. All are valid approaches.

I think that it would be fair to say that avoiding any processing at source is arguably 'safer' in some ways, since it avoids the potential for ruining a great performance by badly chosen processing.

I tread all these paths, depending on the needs of the moment, but most often I record clean and process later.

You're right that this calls into question much of the processing available in your recording front-end. My own SSL channels spend 80% of their life with hardly any of their processing engaged; I use them more for their transparency than their processing. This is why I am a great fan of Focusrite's Liquid Channels (which also have a 'session saver' system to avoid overloads) - record clean, then come back and digitally impose the character of a pre/compressor later.

It's odd that you're looking at these specific devices and only now considering what they do! You either know you need this type of front-end, or you would just go for a plain interface. These front-end devices are capable of giving you hardware processing options after recording, and that's no bad thing. If you intend to stay in the box then even this aspect may not be of any value to you.

As an SSL front-end, if SiX shares the transparency of the SuperAnalogue family, then that alone, for me, would be justification for having it. Where it fails for me is that it then requires to be fed into a separate A/D converter. I would have preferred that SSL gave us a digital output of SSL quality to remove this variable, but it is what it is...

The problem with overtly 'coloured' front ends is that they will similarly 'colour' everything you record through them. Is that good, or bad - you decide!
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Re: SSL Vs TLA

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:46 am

cma- wrote:Thanks for all the comments.

Is it best to record and then use EQ and compression during the mix?
Or do you use EQ and compression while tracking?

If it is best to record the sound of the instruments/vocals without EQ or compression - is there really a need for a desk like the TL Audio or SSL.

For me, once it’s in the box I stay in the box, so maybe I should just use my Apollo and save the money.

If you are making these questions, absolutely the latter when you're making critical recordings - stuff that's hard to redo. There are no technical reasons anymore for compressing when tracking nowadays, just keep your levels around -18dBFS and you'll have enough headroom for anybody. Then you can EQ and compress in the mix to get the sound that best gels with the rest in your mix.

But by all means, try to do it when you can afford to redo the take. It's a great way to learn. And if you hit a sound in your headphones which is gorgeous, go for it and see if it works later in the mix.
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