March 30, 2006

Take that, Focusrite! SSL DSP box on the horizon...

by Chris Randall

No photos yet, and the SSL site has no information on the product, but it looks like SSL is going to release a Firewire DSP sidecar to compete with the offerings from TC, Waves, UA, and Lexicon. Called the Duende, it will come in a 19" 1U rack form factor, and initially have two plugins:

Xlogic Channel Strip: Up to 32 channels (it's still not clear whether they mean tracks or channels on either this or the Lexicon box) of this plug, an EQ/Dynamics strip, can be hosted on the box. From the press release: 4-band EQ, switchable characteristics between E and G series EQ, variable hi- and low pass filters, an ?over easy? soft ratio compression characteristic, independent side-chains for compressor and expander/gate, plus a link bus option to connect individual channel strips.

Stereo Bus Compressor: This is obviously the classic SSL 2-buss whacker, love it or hate it. (I'm in the former catagory.)

So, I imagine news of this, and pictures, will start making the rounds pretty quickly. As of right now, the only thing I can find is this press release on MSRP of ~1600 Eu, so a street in the 1400 Eu range. This is getting interesting, what with all the sidecar options.

EDIT: In thinking about it, how is this not the functional equivalent of having a 32-channel 9000 Series inside your DAW, sans the mic pres? The more I ponder this, the more I think that this might be the product to beat.




Mar.30.2006 @ 1:16 PM
Sounds more similar to having a Waves DSP box running the Waves SSL plug-ins. Which is probably exactly what it is, only with an SSL badge on the front. In case Waves wasn't pricey enough for you.

Mar.30.2006 @ 1:48 PM
Chris Randall
Not at all. The Waves box is ethernet; this one is Firewire, so that's one fundamental difference, which goes to the very root of things. The Waves box is just for doing DSP math, while this one is actually passing audio back and forth.

Another thing, if you'll note from the press release, is that there is an internal audio buss, so you can link channels and sidechain, which is a selling feature for me. I don't believe the Waves box uses SHARC DSP, either. This is, if I'm reading it right, basically the poured DSP for 32 channels of 9000, plus the 2-buss compressor, so not a general DSP helper like the Waves, TC, and UA devices. It has more in common with the Lexicon box, which is also a fixed architecture poured DSP device.

(To wit: rather than having a plugin with DSP code that can use the processors in the box for additional math, like in the PoCo, this actually has the majority of the plugins hard-coded in the box, and all you're running on your computer is the GUI. This is a guess, but an educated one, based upon my knowledge of this particular slice of the industry.)

Aside from all that, I am fundamentally opposed to ever giving Waves a single dime, for obvious reasons. They're one of the companies that punishes their customers because of piracy, which I strongly disagree with.

All that said, I believe, if they charged 16,000 Eu for it instead of 1600, it would be worth it if it does what I think it does. If I'm mistaken, I'll gladly retract, but I'm more or less convinced that this is what I think it is, all the DSP from a 32-channel 9000 series that can run inside your DAW. There is absolutely no question that, barring serious negative reports, I will buy this unit when it is available for PC.



Mar.30.2006 @ 11:03 PM
Interesting. Why would they partner with Waves, if they were working on their own DSP solution? There's also the URS plug-ins, so there's three of them to check out.

I'm not sure that there's audio running through this thing. They're using generic SHARC DSPs, and I think the "link buss" is a software feature to link two dynamics processors together. But I could be wrong, since I'm pissing in the wind here.

What Lexicon are you talking about? I only know the MPX500 or whatever it's called, the little reverb with a USB jack built-in. They haven't updated their site, either. SSL has their AWS900+ from Frankfurt, but not the plug-in suite. Maybe it was not supposed to be released? Or sent to press and then retracted?


Mar.31.2006 @ 12:26 AM
Chris Randall
Dunno 'bout that. The Lexicon I'm referring to is this:

link []">link []

Which goes to show that I shouldn't post before my first cigarette. Nicotine really does make me smarter.



Mar.31.2006 @ 9:51 AM
I haven't had my coffee yet, but I think that's a Focusrite.



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