SSL XLogic Channel

Could this be SSL for the rest of us?

By Mitch Gallagher
Here’s a minor understatement for you: Solid State Logic consoles are just a wee bit beyond the financial grasp of most of us.

Which isn’t to say that we don’t lust after having a huge expansive console arrayed before us in our state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line, professionally designed and decorated studios, located, of course, in sumptuous mansions perched majestically on hillsides overlooking pastoral trees, valleys, beaches, and the glorious blue sea. . . .

Whoa, somebody stop me! What I’m saying is that many of us would love an SSL, but there ain’t no way we’re gettin’ one. At the last AES trade show, SSL introduced a new series of products aimed at those of us without mega-budgets: The XLogic series includes the XLogic Channel strip, a 6-channel compressor, the 4-channel preamp and accompanying remote control, and 2-channel compressor. EQ managed to score time with one of the first XLogic Channels off the production line.

The XLogic Channel is the equivalent of a channel strip in a Solid State Logic XL 9000 K series console. The single rackspace unit comprises a “SuperAnalogue” mic/ line/instrument preamp, a compressor, expander/gate, high- and lowpass filters, and a 4-band equalizer switchable between G and E series console EQ responses. You can add an optional analog-to-digital converter card to the unit for directly interfacing with a DAW or digital recorder.

The preamp in the XLogic sounds great. It’s present and big-sounding, whether used with mics, line level signals, or electric or acoustic guitar or bass. The bottom end is thick and rich, while the mids are full without being bloated or boxy. There’s a lot of detail on top, but not a trace of harshness or sterility.

Dynamic response is excellent; the XLogic Channel follows right along with the performer in this regard, feeling and sounding very natural. There’s plenty of gain available for even quiet sources.

The XLogic compressor is incredibly flexible. It can switch from peak to RMS response, be switched pre- or post-EQ, be linked to a second XLogic for stereo operation, and keyed from an external sidechain source.

You can switch the high- and lowpass filters into the key (sidechain) path. You can also switch the EQ into the sidechain for frequency-dependent processing like de-essing. And yes, you can switch both the filters and the EQ into the sidechain if you really want to get carried away.

The expander/gate can switch between, well, expansion and hard gating, with separate controls. Both the compressor and the gate can be switched to fast attack response.

The XLogic Channel EQ is like two equalizers in one . . . you can change the response between two classic SSL curves: E and G series. The EQ is a 4-bander. The low and high bands can switch between shelf and bell (peaking) response. The two mid bands are fully parametric, with control over frequency, bandwidth, and boost/cut. The bands can overlap, frequency-wise.

The EQ is incredibly powerful; combined with the two filters and the &lusmn;20dB of gain (&lusmn;16dB on the highs) per band, whatever tone shaping you need is available.

So is the XLogic Channel the “affordable” SSL we’ve all been waiting for? I’d definitely say yes. It literally is a channel from an SSL XL console, with all the power and sonics that entails. Features abound, amazing flexibility is available, and the sound is there. The price is still steep — $3,600 for a single channel ranks right up there — but it’s by far the least expensive way most of us can even consider getting an SSL into our rooms. If an SSL front end is what you’ve lusted for, this is the way to get it!