AB Testing Starts at: This is an AB comparison between my Analog hardware SSL G Bus Compressor and some of the most used. Quite a while back, Waves introduced a set of plug-ins emulating the SSL 4000, including complete E and G-series channel strips, a separate G-series EQ, and the G-Master Buss compressor. Since then, many others have also set out to duplicate the analog magic of the 4000, but these Waves plug-ins remain one of the most respected, and most.
Brainworx have also added powerful plugin-only features such as THD, a compressor mix parameter and V-Gain for authentic control of the analog signal path. The new 4000 E/G Series plugins have been taken to the next level by SSL & BX engineers together: Revisited Component Modeling with assistance of SSL engineers. SSL 4000 G master bus compressor emulation presets for Logic Pro Compressor (Logic Pro 8 or newer) Legal These emulation presets are ©2008 Holger Lagerfeldt for Popmusic.dk and are not endorsed by either Apple, Waves or Solid State Logic. Download and Installation Links Audio Articles, Technical Tips, Download Presets.
Anyone who's ever heard music recorded and mixed in the '80s and '90s has heard the sound of the classic SSL 4000 consoles. These boards were more or less the standard in high-end studios for many years, until they eventually gave way to SSL's 9000 series, and later digital consoles. But the 4000, while perhaps not as clean and transparent as the later models, had a sound all its own, and one that engineers all over the world came to love, and rely on, to record and mix some of the biggest albums ever. Many people still gravitate to the sound of these consoles, now long out of production, and with the coming-of-age of digital modeling, they can have them, without having to worry about maintenance and parts, via one of the many plug-in emulations of these classic boards.
Fig 1 An original SSL 4000 console.
The SSL 4000 came in two versions'the original 4000E, which established itself as the de-facto studio standard, and the later 4000G, updated with additional routing options, somewhat cleaner circuitry for greater transparency, and slightly different EQ characteristics. The 4000 channel strip EQ'both the E and G versions'has its own 'character' (as distinct from EQs in SSL's competitors, like Neve and API), perhaps a little more aggressive, some would say a little more 'rock & roll'. The G-series EQ introduced a proportional-Q design, which meant that, with the same settings as the E-series EQ, it would sound noticeably different'you get different curves, for what many feel is a smoother sound, at typical EQ settings. However, with the broad range of adjustment available, you can get pretty much any sound you want with either, it's just that the different versions tend to push you more in one direction than the other'the E-series toward more presence and edge, and the G-series toward more gentle tonal shifts. That said, I hear people describe the differences in contradictory ways'it really does depend heavily on exactly what kind of EQ tweaks you're dialing up, but there's no doubt that either gets the job done!
The other component of the original SSL 4000 channel strip was its dynamics section, which included a noise gate and compressor on every channel'a first for consoles in that era. The ready availability of compression undoubtedly led to its much wider, and more aggressive, use in mixing, a trend that still continues today. And for many people, the jewel-in-the-crown of the 4000 series was its G-Master Buss Compressor, a final compressor strapped across the main outs, that achieved an almost legendary reputation for being able to magically 'glue' all the elements of mix together, making it more cohesive.
Quite a while back, Waves introduced a set of plug-ins emulating the SSL 4000, including complete E and G-series channel strips, a separate G-series EQ, and the G-Master Buss compressor. Since then, many others have also set out to duplicate the analog magic of the 4000, but these Waves plug-ins remain one of the most respected, and most popular, bundles, for lovers of the classic SSL sound.
Fig 2 The Waves SSL 4000 Collection.
The four plug-ins in the Waves SSL 4000 bundle are faithful recreations of the originals, down to the last detail. Let's take a look at them, starting with the channel strips.
The E-Channel and G-Channel share the same layout and features, for the most part'I'll describe the E-Channel, taking note of any differences in the G.
Fig 3 The Waves SSL 4000 E-Channel & G-Channel.
The E-Channel lays out the original console strip in two sections, side-by-side. On the left are the four-band EQ, plus highpass and lowpass filters. On the right are the channel Compressor and Gate, each with its own (LED) gain-reduction meter, a Trim knob and Phase (polarity-reversal) button, and the output fader and meter. There's also a switch labelled ANALOG'this lets you enable or disable Waves' digital emulation of the original console's noise and distortion characteristics. This is, of course, part of the 'sound' of these processors, so it would normally be left on. However, for situations where a more modern, less 'characterful' sound is needed, the option to turn it off is there. The BYPASS buttons for the EQ and Dynamics differ from the DAW's channel strip Bypass function, in that, while they bypass the processing on that section, they don't bypass the simulation of the analog circuitry'what audio would sound like running flat through the console's electronics.
As in the originals, the order of the Filters, EQ, and Dynamics sections can be changed'two buttons control the re-ordering. Normally, the Dynamics section is first, followed by Filter, then EQ, but engaging the SPLIT button in the Filter section makes it precede Dynamics (Fig 4). The CH OUT in the Dynamics section moves it to the end of the chain, after the Filter and EQ (Fig 4).
The Filter & EQ can also be routed to the Dynamics' sidechain input, via the DYN S-C button (or the FLT DYN-SC button on the G-Channel). Different combinations of that button plus the SPLIT and CH OUT buttons provide various routings, as shown in the diagrams in Fig 4 (from the Waves manual)'the routings are different for the G-Channel.
Fig 4 Filter/EQ, Dynamics, & Side-Chain Routing Options for the E- & G-Channels.
Another difference between the E- and G-Channels is the EQ. Besides any under-the-hood difference in sound quality'from the emulations of the different analog electronics and EQ circuit designs in the original consoles'the EQs also have somewhat different layouts. The E-Channel EQ is a four-band, with fully parametric controls for the two mid bands, and semi-parametric controls for the high and low bands (Fig 3). The BELL buttons switch the high and low bands from Shelving to a Bell curve (like the mid bands). As you can see from the screenshot, each band covers a pretty wide frequency range. The G-Channel EQ is also four-band, but the high and low bands are fixed Shelves'instead of the BELL buttons, there are HMFx3 and LMFÃ·3 buttons, which shift and extend the respective frequency ranges of the high-mid and low-mid bands.
Fig 5 The settings used for the E- and G-Channel EQs in Audio Example 1
Audio Example 1'Acoustic Guitar: 1) All EQs Bypassed, 2) E-Channel EQ, 3) G-Channel EQ with identical settings to the E-Channel in 2), to highlight the differences; 4) G-Channel EQ set to more or less match the tonal curve of the E-Channel
Fig 6 The Waves SSL G-Equalizer
The separate G-Equalizer plug-in, despite the name, is similar to the E-Channel EQ, with a slightly greater gain range than the E, and slightly different EQ curves. It's modeled on the rack-mount version of SSL's G 292, a different design than the E-Channel EQ (242) and G-Channel EQ (384) circuits. A Phase button and Trim knob are included, but the Lowpass Filter of the Channel EQs is omitted.
The Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor is modeled on the master buss compressor from the 4000G, which, as I mentioned earlier, has achieved legendary status as the secret ingredient to finish a mix, the 'glue' that pulls everything together. But this plug-in will also sound great on individual instruments, especially drums.
Fig 7 The Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor.
The original was a VCA design, which is faithfully modeled here. The G-Master has the usual compressor controls'Threshold, Ratio, Attack, Release, and Make-up Gain. There are Ratios of 2:1, 4:1, and 10:1'2:1 is probably best for mix bus applications. Attack and Release span a wide range, and Release can also be set to Auto, for a program-dependent response, like many classic compressors.
Waves has even included the controls for creating an automatic Fade-Out (remember, the original was a master bus compressor, in the days when console automation was not as quick and easy as DAW automation is today). If you are using the plug-in on the master outs, this feature does create some nice, smooth-sounding fades when enabled'you can set the fade time with the RATE-S knob, from 1 to 60 seconds.
Finally, as in the other SSL plug-ins, ANALOG disables the analog circuit emulation component, for a cleaner but less 'Characterful' sound.
So what is the special quality of this compressor that's made it so popular with so many engineers and mixers? I recorded two quick examples. The first is the G-Master on drums (Audio Example 2), where it adds some nice 'push' (there's also a touch of the G-Equalizer as well). Ratio was set to 10:1, with a fast (1ms) Attack and Auto-Release.
Audio Example 2'Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor on drums:
The second example is the G-Master on the mix bus'its main application (Audio Example 3).
Audio Example'Waves SSL G-Master Buss Compressor master bus:
I hear some people argue endlessly about plug-ins like these'which emulation is the 'best', and 'do they sound exactly like the original'? But I think that misses the point'the Waves SSL 4000 Collection not only captures the quality'the sound and vibe'of the originals, in spades, but it also offers an interface that's so familiar to those accustomed to working on the real thing, that they can instantly achieve the sounds and effects they're used to getting from the original hardware'and that's a big part of the appeal of these plug-ins! A friend of mine, who was an SSL devotee, then working in his own smaller studio, was ecstatic to get a hold of plugins that let him utilize the techniques he'd developed over the years on actual 4000-series consoles. And users new to the SSL universe will be pleasantly surprised at how these models really do add something of that classic analog sound to tracks and mixes.
Pros: Authentic-sounding emulations of classic SSL analog hardware
Cons: None, really.
Here is the order page for the ssl G series 4000 compressor clone. Hopefully all questions will be answered and you can check out the sound samples.
So if your not familiar with the compressor here’s a little info.
The Compressor comes from the classic SSL G 4000 console, in which it was a built in module. It’s also known as SSL buss compressor, 4000 compressor and the fx g384. It’s a solid state analog vca based design.
The compressor became well known as a great mix buss compressor & was used on countless hit records by famous engineers. Also sounds very good one drums. In the 90’s people were taking apart SSL desks to rack up the compressor. In response SSL released their own rack version. These became very sought after & will set you back about 2 or 3 grand. There have been newer revisions which are between 1 & 2 grand. Waves also released a vst version.
The compressor is probably best known as “the Glue” as when used as master insert when mixing it will just glue the track together giving it a smooth colour & more finished sound. This is known as mix buss compression & my main drive in building this, well drum buss use too!
So to sum up, classic compressor, very good as mix buss compressor & drum bus compressor.
the prototype clone pictured above.
The clone & building process
Each build takes a week to complete and four are made each month. Everything is hand made, from the case to each individual wire soldered. Parts are selected for the best performance and are of high quality. I use wima and panasonic FC gold caps for example. I take a lot of pride in my work and the little details bug me, so I do my best to ensure the quality is there inside and out.
Once all the building is done the clone has to pass a series of tests and finishes with a 24 hour burn in test.
The clone I’m offering is a part for part clone, meaning there are only a few slight changes to the design. These are in the power supply circuit, balanced in and out & simple improvements like gain make up bypass.
I’ve done a Huge amount of research in putting this together & have tried out different techniques in building. I’ve tried to get the look right with vintage meter & custom knobs like the original.
The sound is extremely close to the original & makes the plugin sound flat as hell!!! I rate it would be it would be to tell the difference between the original & clone.
Each of my clones will have a serial number. I can’t imagine making a huge amount of these so they will be one off pieces of gear.
The clone runs whisper quiet unlike many of the other clones out there. This is due to separated power rails and extra smoothing of the power rails.
Some spec info
Balanced inputs & outputs on TRS jacks or XLR
Compression ratios of 2,4 & 10 to 1
Attack settings of 0.1, 0.3, 1, 3, 10 & 30 milliseconds
Release settings of 0.1, 0.3, 0.6, 1.2 seconds & auto release (2.4)
Make-up gain: 0 to 20dB adjustable
Threshold: -20 to +20dBm
Input: 50K Ohm electronically balanced
Output: 100 Ohm electronically balanced
19″ 1ru enclousure
Power is provided by standard kettle lead (included)
I have some audio demos of the transformer mod and turbo, standard differences. Perfect for A/bing
All the samples start with untreated sounds then I put the compressor in, there are 4 sections, drums, mix buss, vocals & acoustic guitar.
Mods & Customisation
So one big advantage of a clone us mods & customisation right!!! I’m open to suggestions too.
Buttons and knobs come is a wide range of colours and can be combined. just let me know what you would like.
High pass filter
The original had a tendency for compression to kick in too quickly if a bass heavy signal was used. This means it would compress bass more than the rest of the spectrum. This makes working with bass heavy stuff bit more difficult. Not ideal.
Solution is a high pass filter on the threshold sidechain. Frequency Options for the high pass filter are 80hz, 160hz or 300hz. I could even put in all three & make them selectable from the front panel. This doesn’t effect the signal just the compression threshold.
External sidechain input
Jack socket in the back for inputting external sidechain trigger. This would be switchable on the front on & off. Classic ducking and creative side chaining techniques.
Turbo (oxford) mods
The turbo mod duplicates the Sidechain of the compressor therefore making it stereo. To break this down a standard SSL has the stereo left and right channels summed to mono for the sidechain. This mod reverses this so it is stereo. Some people prefer the turbo mods and others don’t. Both have different behaviour. Mono sidechains can have more compression on bass and centre panned audio, stereo sidechains don’t but compression can happen if one side of the stereo field hits the threshold before the other. This mod is switchable from the front panel and can be installed with the HPF and external sidechain mods.
Sifam knobs that are exactly the same as real SSL ones. Standard is blue caps but come in a range of colours.
Neve Carnhill transformer mod
Neve carnhill transformers on an SSL… YES! Basically this mod adds a pair of transformers on the output. These can be switched in or out of the circuit from the front panel. They can also be used in bypass as a tool for colouring mixes. These transformers were picked out of a bunch of different brands due to them having just the right amount of colour for the master buss. Expect to hear bigger bottom end, smoother mids and a pleasant subtle sheen across the top end.
This mod has proved to be very popular!
There a few clones out there on the market at the moment, some commercial, some diy. Commercial units are nearly the cost of an original, about £1500.
I’ve kept the cost down by bulk buying parts & not making much profit for making the units. To me it has to be affordable!!!
Current price list is below. Sadly I had to raise the price in 2017 due to global economic changes. This was a tough decision but had to be done. I decided to offer three models of the clones with different prices. The most popular has been the fully modded one.
Standard clone £500
Selectable HPF mod
External Sidechain mod
Turbo clone £600
Selectable HPF mod
External Sidechain mod
XLR input and out mods
Transformer mod £135
switchable Neve carnhill output transformers
Fully modded – £700
All of the mods, Turbo, Transformer, HPF, external sidechain and XLR in/out
I am happy to ship anywhere in the uk using courier (DPD or UPS) it will cost roughly £20-25 for next day insured delivery uk and 3-5 days internationally. Collection in person from Manchester is preferred as I like to meet everyone :-). I can ship internationally and have successfully sent clones to USA, Canada, Japan, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Israel and more. The clones will be wired to work on your countries voltage.
All orders are now processed via Nekotronics, a company I setup for all clone and repair work. You will receive invoices and confirmation from Nekotronics.
The ordering process works as follows. Each clone takes 1 week to make and is made to order. If there’s a few orders there will be a waiting list. A deposit of 50% of the total amount is required to secure a build slot. The rest, along with the shipping, is due on completion. Build slots fill up fast and is based on a first come first served basis.
Everything is handled with paypal or bank transfer, which ever you feel comfortable with.
To order just drop me an email at [email protected] title SSL clone. Remember to say what mods or customisations you want doing. Also any questions please email me.
The clone will be covered via warranty with Nekotronics for 1 year. This covers any failure of the unit build or part wise. I will offer support/servicing for these indefinitely and expect them to be around for a long time!
I Will keep this updated as much as possible but changes frequently so best to contact me to check.
Feb – SSL 001
March – SSL002
April – SSL003
May – No serial – sold on eBay
June – No serial – sold on eBay
Sept – SSL004
Oct/Nov – SSL005
Dec – SSL006
Jan 2015 – SSL007
March 2015 – SSL008
May 2015 – SSL009
June – SSL010 🙂
July – SSL011
August – SSL012
Sept – SSL013 & 015
October – SSL016 & 017
October 2015 – May 2016 – SSL018-024
May 2016 – December 2016 – SSL024 – 036
January 2017 – August 2017 – SSL037 – 060
August 2017 – November 2017 – SSL060 – 072
December 2017 – February 2018 – SSL072- 082
February 2018 – June 2018 – SSL082 – SSL100 🙂
June 2018 – August 2018 – SSL100 – SSL113
August 2018 – October 2018 – SSL114 – SSL122
October 2018 – Febuary 2019 SSL 122 – 143
Feb 2019 – September 2019 SSL 143 – 160
Fully modded SSL clone but with Turbo switch removed and permanently on. Sifam knobs to finish.
SSL sifam knobs and custom cream finish
SSL Transformer modded & light blue knobs
Not just SSL’s custom 1176’s and Stereo tube compressors
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Waiting to ship. Turbo modded, Transformer modded and Fully modded SSL clones
Lovely mastering chain. Tube compressor, Transformer modded SSL and Pultec EQ