The SSL Duality: Man or Robot?
(AlexV | Posted 2010-03-16)
The SSL Duality is a large format fully-analog console that boasts both the capabilities of an SSL E, K, or AWS 900 series mixed with the capabilities of HUI or DAW workstation controller. SSL is an audio company out of the UK that has been poppin' out top of the line consoles for the past 41 years with flagship consoles such as the AWS 900+, Matrix, C200 HD, and now, the Duality.
The Duality is the new studio standard and features everything any serious engineer could want (and even dream of) in a large-format console. This console features the complete SSL analogue processing suite; SuperAnalogue and VHD Mic Pres, E & G Series EQ's, Dynamics and Master Bus compressor. Take a quick look up above all those tasty EQ's and compressors and you will notice 8 beautiful screens displaying full TFT metering for each channel bay and one located centrally showing everything from master bus metering to cue send levels to Total Recall settings and so much more.
Featuring SPLIT channel signal path architecture, the Duality is able to switch from mixing or tracking fully analog to using the console as a HUI control service for multiple softwares with the touch of a button. Want to create some SACD's or push some sound for film? The Duality features multiple stereo buses and full 5.1 mixing and playback functionality. Running more than one DAW at a time? No problem for the Duality's ability to control two DAW's simultaneously via ethernet. And lets not forget about channel switch automation. On the duality, fader automation is child's play. The Cue, FX, EQ, Cut and Inserts switches can all be automated.
Not enough? Remember the 568 recall sheets you created for each and every one of your 48, 72, or 96 channel strips? Time to break out the secret weapon. Total Recall is the duality's way of going green no more wasted paper! When finishing up a session all you do is go into the Duality's centrally located computer and pull up the Total Recall setting. Type in the name of your project, click save, have your assistant (lucky) zero out the console and go home to the Mrs. When you come back the next day to resume mixing, just simply pull up your Total Recall template and on each of the eight screen pops up a digital replication of each channel strips components. Anything that isn't in the right place is highlighted in yellow and it shows you exactly where every single knob, switch, and setting should be.
Lets dive into the center section of the console so you can see why I call it Command Center One. The center section includes:
Trackball, Group + Master Faders, DAW Transport & Numeric Location panel
Comprehensive monitoring section with external feeds and full monitor speaker calibration options, Oscillator and Noise Generator
Talkback Mic and associated communications switches
Main Output Bus functions (eg. Inserts, Summing, Mix Bus reassign etc.)
Four dedicated Stereo returns
Classic SSL Main Bus Compressor (both Stereo & 5.1)
Master controls for Track, Foldback and CUE/FX buses
Centre section TFT Metering
Dedicated VU meters and moving coil phase meter
DAW control TFT displays shows DAW status and plug-in parameters
Four encoders and five buttons assignable to DAW functions
Plug-in parameter control can be flipped to faders
This center section allows to to do just about anything you want but order a pizza (I'll email SSL about this). You can set cues, create groups, cut a track in pro tools, change signal path on any channel, pick between 4 different monitor pairs, add master bus compression, create multiple mixes, save a Total Recall, and in the bottom left control section you can do just about anything you'd do in pro tools without even touching a mouse. Convenience at its best!
Starting at $200K for the 48 channel model, the Duality most certainly sits in the top price range for new consoles. It is also expandable by adding 24 channel tables up to 96 channels. It has a relatively simple back panel and is, compared to other consoles, a relatively simple install. I have been lucky enough to work on this as my daily console for the past 3 years and have found it to be my favorite console in Nashville. With only a very small learning curve for all for all of you strictly analog folks, the SSL Duality is a must have for serious studios and is the new standard in studios worldwide. SSL also offers a substitute for those who typically run a 192 I/O with pro tools called the Alpha Link and I strongly recommend it for those looking to run the Duality into pro tools. It works much better between the two than the 192 I/O does and, at least in my case, has proven to be much more reliable.
The Duality adds so much more to your engineering experience yet seems less cluttered than most large-format consoles. It gives your so much more in a console and does it better than anyone else. Including the classic sound of SSL's signature compressors and EQ's mixed with the technology of today, this console does it all. With unbelievable versatility and endless possibilities, the SSL Duality is the console for the modern engineer. So, Man or Robot? I think I'll have to go with both!