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What do Tupac and Dave Matthews have in widespread?

A great variety of musical masterpieces found their power in this one technology: the SSL mixer.

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4, 2020

4 min read

For more than four decades, Solid State Logic (SSL) mixers have produced legendary recordings, from Rush's Moving Pictures to Tupac Shakur's All Eyez On Me. SSL has recorded more platinum albums than any other mixer combined. They are located in world famous facilities such as Hit Factory and Abbey Road Studios.

We spoke to James Gordon, CEO of Audiotonix, to find out how the company keeps track of SSL's incredible past and always looks to the future.

Can you explain to non-gearhead music lovers how one recording console is different from another?

For an audio engineer, the mixer is the instrument. In this way, they manage and control the musician's individual instruments and ultimately balance out what the listener hears. This connection with the technician means that the sound of the console, combined with the accuracy and feel of the controls, is critical to the end result. This interaction and the physical layout of the console become part of your muscle memory, and the engineers instinctively know where to go to get the result and sound you want. This means that engineers are very attached to their preferred brand and physical layout.

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As the CEO of Audiotonix, how can you balance the legacy of a brand like SSL as you continue to change and innovate?

Part of SSL's legacy is innovation. Therefore, it is in the DNA of the research and development team to constantly look for new ways to do things or add to what is possible. The hardest part is prioritizing the ideas and turning them into real products. We recently had this with the SSL 2 and SSL 2+ USB interfaces, where we wanted to introduce the brand to the next generation of musicians and engineers. The team wanted to keep their audio levels and deliver the true SSL experience, all of which had to be price-priced. They did a great job and we now have a rapidly growing number of people experiencing what it means to have that quality at the beginning of their music.

What is the process for new product development?

We spend a lot of time with our customers. Listening to their challenges or aspirations drives much of our development. We then have a comprehensive think tank process in which all Audiotonix technical directors come together to assess development challenges and economic viability. It sounds like a pretty intense process, but I think any design team would say the products are always refined for the better. The brands in the group are very focused on their specific core market and the customer base they work with is therefore very close to the sales and product teams. This unrivaled connection and the unique focus on the market and the products enable us to react and often drive the next trend.

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How do you see the changes in music recordings in the coming years? What trends do you see among musicians?

There seems to be a trend towards collaboration that is now returning to music, where musicians want to work more closely together to create something. This is more of a classic approach and I think this trend will add to the success of ORIGIN as it is a console that you can put together and build. Covid-19 has also done its part in bringing musicians to work together via online platforms, which has significantly increased the acceptance of our ACP (Audio Creation Products) like SSL2 and SSL2 +.

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How does the music community deal with this in these difficult times?

As a company, we try to support our entire supply chain as well as possible. These are both our customers and our suppliers, some of whom are having very challenging times. We are actively involved in a number of campaigns around the world to highlight the challenge to our industry and the size of the freelancers who work in this industry and fall through the loopholes in a terrifying number of cases. If readers want some attention on this, please check out the work done by #WeMakeEvents and #LetTheMusicPlay. There are many others, but these illustrate the challenges and the reason we are trying to get local governments to consider expanding support.

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