Johnny McDaid is the latest to use SSL Matrix Mixer
(ShackMan | Posted 2010-11-22)
"I don't think I ever want to go back to mixing in the box again." So spoke London-based writer, producer, vocalist, and musician Johnny McDaid of his recent decision to add an SSL Matrix console, a SuperAnalogue 16 channel, 40 input mixing console with inbuilt signal router and multi-layer digital workstation control.
Johnny McDaid collaborates with Alt-Rockers Snow Patrol, has penned dance tracks for Paul van Dyk, remixed U2 and racked up writing credits with the likes of Gary Go, Carina Round, Iain Archer and Example. His music has also soundtracked a plethora of TV advertisements and shows, including Grey's Anatomy, The Hills, Defying Gravity, and even movies like My Sister's Keeper, and many more. Fieldwork Studio, Johny's North London production and writing writing suite, needs to be flexible enough to handle any job that comes his way. The Solid State Logic Matrix mixing console fills that purpose just fine for him.
It wasn't a quick decision, though. "I didn't specifically head out for an SSL," Johnny says. "I just wanted something that would tick the right boxes for me. I needed something that would work as a controller, that would function as a desk, a summing mixer that I'd be able to patch outboard gear in to, and when I did some research Matrix checked all of the boxes and added a whole load more to the list as well!"
He's more than happy to explain in detail, and it's readily apparent that he's done his fair share of comparison shopping. He adds, "The controller side of Matrix is fantastic, so I'm constantly using the short-cut keys and the jogwheel, and the transport is amazing. Mainly, though, what I'm interested in with Matrix is the analogue side of it. Before Matrix I always mixed in the box. When I was in a band and touring I'd mix on a laptop with headphones, but even when I broke away from that and had a studio I still tended to mix in the box."
"Matrix allows me to mix everything in groups as we build a track. And I don't think I ever want to go back to mixing in the box again. I thought I would always mix in the box because recall is easy, and a track sounds like it's going to sound in the end, but the difference with Matrix is massive - it's like night and day."
"When the guys from SSL installed the desk they said to have a go and see what I thought of it. Seems I was playing everything way under where I needed to, and that I could really push those needles until they're bending like a Russian gymnast against the sides of the pins. So I pushed it - and no matter how hard I push Matrix I've never got it to clip. I've never had this desk distort (in a bad way, he adds, with a grin) or clip on me. There's a very natural sound with it."
Johnny isn't a newcomer to the SSL product line, though. "I use an X-Rack outboard a lot, both going and coming out. I really like the hands-on feel of having an SSL Channel, whether it's a SuperAnalogue channel, or an old SSL Compression or EQ that I can put in to crunch everything up, and now I can do all that really easily with this desk.
"So yes, Matrix has changed the way I work... for a start there's the speed that I can now create ideas that end up becoming finished ideas that make it on to records. Before Matrix I would create tapestries of ideas that tended to be bits and bobs, you know, cluttered together inside a computer. But Matrix allows me to break everything out, so that the building blocks that are used to create a song or a piece of music are all there in front of me. In the analogue world, that's a huge difference in terms of workflow."
"If I want to jump back in to the old way of working I press a button and instantly I've got a digital controller that lets me get hands on with everything inside my Logic system... so however I want to work Matrix really streamlines the process and makes things very easy. And because the routing is taken care of inside one block, I don't ever have to go outside of it. I can create a completely fresh monitor mix for someone sitting in a vocal booth while I can audition something separately so they don't have to hear my mistakes whenever I'm pulling it together and reaching for a mix."
To check out Johnny's blog and personal projects, as well as see pictures of his studio, go to Fieldwork Music.
For more information on the SSL product line and the X-Rack and Matrix units, visit Solid State Logic Online.
James Rushin is a bassist, keyboardist, writer, and composer living and working in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He has performed with Selmer artist Tim Price, Curtis Johnson, guitarists Ken Karsh and Joe Negri. His compositions have been featured at West Virginia University and Valley Forge Christian College. He will be spending the Fall and Winter months working on playwright Frank Gagliano's Voodoo Trilogy and Bodoni County Songbook, as well as a full-length album with his latest project, Shutterdown.
Got questions? Comments? Want to know my personal thoughts on the PX-330? James can be reached as ShackMan in the Music Gear Review forums, or you may e-mail him at James.Rushin@MusicGearReview.com.