Solid State Logic: the origin of ORIGIN
Posted on: Thursday 30th of July 2020
With the release of Solid State Logic’s ORIGIN studio console, director of new products, Niall Feldman, explains why the company went back to their roots to create a new analogue console to fit today’s music production requirements.
“In more than 40 years of developing consoles for changing studio workflows, in conceiving ORIGIN our thoughts returned to those first workflow-centric concepts that made the original SSL 4000 console such a success. Those features streamlined the integration of the tools in use at the time; Tape machines, pre-amplifiers, compressors and external effects. Applying that thought process to the modern studio production process, ORIGIN is a new console, with 21st century analogue features, but yet that takes us right back to the origin of SSL, namely a focus on the most efficient way to streamline a studio production session.
“Since the launch of the first SSL AWS console in 2004, SSL have championed and integrated the concept of the ‘hybrid studio’. Working with hundreds of engineers and producers over many years our understanding of session workflow and studio integration teaches us that there are still some things that a designed-for-purpose tool does far better than a workstation alone. Workstation software delivers huge feature sets at low cost but engineers can struggle to match the immediacy and ergonomics of using a console to run a recording session. Record feeds, headphone sends and talkback are all feasible to configure with a DAW system but they are simply not as fast or as intuitive as having the functions laid out in front of you on a discrete ‘knob per function’ surface. Despite the proliferation of home-based computer-centric studios and owner/operator spaces there is still a need for a proper tracking space as well as a proper tracking console. ORIGIN was designed from the ground up with all of the most appropriate tools to do this fast and to do this well.
“We also applaud good education. Without sharing traditional skills, knowledge and best practice then the engineers of now and the future will never fully understand gain structure and routing. Alongside the evolution of professional audio training courses, SSL has developed strong links in the Education sector. Hundreds of SSL consoles now work incredibly hard in schools, colleges and universities helping to guide the talent of the future. In thinking about ORIGIN another prime objective was to design a console at home in a professional studio but where the architecture and signal flow lends itself to help teach good studio practice in non-commercial spaces too.
“ORIGIN is a mix of traditional best practice; clever new tools and all the audio excellence modern circuit design and components can provide. It’s an analogue, inline, dual path per channel analogue console with 16 buses, E Series EQ and the Bus Compressor. ORIGIN has everything analogue you expect from an SSL console. However, it also benefits from years of efficiency and improvements; centralised bus switching, environmentally conscious power handling, and flexible new mic-pre design. While staying resolutely traditional ORIGIN can’t ignore the fact that it’s the 21st Century, so also brings in ‘extras’ that make it an ideal partner for the DAW-based world; extra mojo with our Drive input, a configurable centre section and DAW stem-ready 0dB fader bypass switches.
“In simple terms, ORIGIN is a 32 fader in-line analogue console, hopefully something time-served studio engineers will be familiar with especially if they’ve spent a little time in front of a big SSL before. Under the hood though, the circuit design is very different. Newer components and a drive to deliver the sonic advantage of SSL’s SuperAnalogue circuits at a new price point mean many new areas of circuit design. For example, the discrete mic pre design is brand new and uses transistors more traditionally found in modern switch-mode power supplies. Our component level design expertise delivers a clean, low-noise preamp, fast and excellent in capturing detail – just as you’d come to expect from a SuperAnalogue™ SSL circuit, but with an additional Drive feature that “warms up” a recording that just needs a bit more vibe. Drive the circuit a little harder than you might normally and we start to generate subtle 2nd order harmonics, the perfect answer to breath soul into a sterile, “perfect” digital system. Similarly new thinking in the power supply system means the console can monitor its activity and automatically ‘sleep’ when inactive for a period of time. This reduces the power consumption from roughly 800 watts (roughly the same as a microwave oven) to less than 40 watts (a fluorescent light), making running costs very efficient and significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
“With 88 inputs at mixdown we’re still talking about a console of significant capacity, but with a physical footprint less than 2m wide you no longer need a control room with a huge footprint, power provision and cooling to install. Only time will tell if we have achieved the right balance for today’s ‘hybrid’ production workflow, but our instincts tell us that ORIGIN has all the right ingredients to take its place in the legendary legacy of SSL consoles that have helped reshape music production.