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Before we get into a full breakdown of the Solid State Logic BiG SiX, we were fortunate enough to get our hands on the desktop mixer ahead of launch. Vintage King paired our in-house engineer Bryan Reilly with the Detroit-based Century Babes for an epic recording and mixing session with the BiG SiX. Watch below to get a unique look at how the desktop mixer can be used in your studio.
Let’s take a quick tour of the new SSL BiG SiX console. In short, BiG SiX combines four SuperAnalogue ‘Money Channels,’ including classic SSL channel dynamics and EQ, with four fully-balanced stereo inputs, 16 channels of industry-leading conversion, and a built-in SSL bus compressor in a compact, desktop package. Here are the highlights:
Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s take a closer look at each section.
BiG SiX uses SuperAnalogue technology to bring large console sonics and processing into a very compact design. Each of the four "Money Channels" includes fully-balanced SuperAnalogue mic and line-level preamp inputs, along with switches for line-level or Hi-Z inputs, 48v phantom power, and a high-pass filter fixed at 75 Hz.
At the top of the channel strip, you’ll find gain pots with a wide gain range to accommodate any mic, as well as a phase flip button for stereo micing, and a “From USB” button for routing signal from your PC. Below the gain section, there are two cue sends complete with pan controls, pre/post options and bypass switches.
Below the cue sends, you’ll find a three-band EQ based on the classic E Series design. This gentle, broad-stroke EQ features high and low shelving filters at 3.5 kHz and 60 Hz, adjustable from +15 dB to -15 dB of gain, and a fixed Mid Frequency control at 700 Hz.
The HF and LF bands can be independently switched between shelving and bell curves using the BELL switch, which also changes the center frequency to 5 kHz and 200 Hz, respectively, for greater versatility. Additionally, the “IN” switch ensures EQ circuit is removed from the signal path entirely, preserving the exceptionally flat frequency response of the SuperAnalogue preamps.
The channel compressor on BiG SiX is a new design, inspired by the sophisticated channel dynamics sections of earlier SSL analog consoles, but with some clever new features for added versatility.
The attack time of the compressor is somewhat program dependant and varies between 8 ms and 30 ms for smooth response across a variety of input sources. The release time is approximately 300 ms and the ratio is a gentle 2:1, making it extremely easy to use. As with the EQ circuit, the compressor can be completely bypassed using the IN switch, providing a simple way to A/B the compressed and uncompressed signals.
Below the dynamics section, you’ll find all the familiar SSL console controls you’re used to, including studio-grade 100 mm faders with the classic SSL response curve and large sweet spot—just like those found on large-format SSL consoles.
Next to the faders are channel insert controls, standard mute and PFL buttons, and SSL’s precision-made LED meters. The upper LED meter points on BiG SiX’s main meters have been carefully chosen. The console is designed with a huge +27 dBu headroom and the meters have defined segments for +24 dBu and +18 dBu to match the two most common alignment standards, ensuring optimum performance for converters and proper gain structure throughout the signal chain.
Additionally, the meters in BiG SiX have been designed with a fast ‘peak’ response and a slower release time to give the ability to meter fast peaks while still being able to show useful signal levels.
BiG SiX also offers four line-level stereo channels. Each channel offers dual-mono switching and features SSL’s signature wide gain range. In addition to standard gain controls, you’ll also find two cue sends, an EQ module, and a high-res meter on each channel.
All of BiG SiX’s inputs and outputs are fully balanced (with the exception of the Phones output), ensuring crystal-clear sound with no hum or noise and an ideal signal-to-noise ratio throughout your entire signal chain—even with long cable runs.
BiG SiX’s monitor section offers some versatile routing options. At the top of the console, there are line-level inserts for EXT inputs 1 and 2, as well as switches to route input from your PC, allowing up to 16 channels of input. You’ll also find Talkback controls, including an XLR input, 48v phantom power, a dedicated Listen Mic Compressor based on SSL’s iconic design.
The G Series Bus Comp in BiG SiX is a stereo compressor applied across the Main Mix bus, using exactly the same circuit topology as the original design found on the SL4000 G-Series console released in 1989. The compressor uses the 4:1 ratio, 30 ms attack and 100 ms release settings from the original processor, and features a selectable AUTO RELEASE switch, which uses the same Auto Release characteristic as the original Bus Compressor.
Below the G-Series Bus Compressor, you’ll find master monitor controls, including routing options for monitor source, cue mixes and headphone mixes. Combined with two EXT sources, BiG SiX offers up to 18 channels of analog summing through the master bus, which can be monitored using the 12-LED Main Meter.
BiG SiX’s SuperAnalogue design combines the punch and clarity of SSL’s acclaimed 9000 series consoles with the flexibility of a 16-channel USB interface in a compact design that fits neatly on your desktop. As the name implies, BiG SiX is the successor to SSL’s beloved SiX desktop console. BiG SiX is over twice the size of the original SiX console, but is still small enough to fit into a full 9U, 19” rack space.
Don’t let its size fool you! With SSL’s groundbreaking SuperAnalogue preamps, classic channel dynamics and EQ based on the iconic SSL 4000E, an essential version of the SSL G-Comp Bus Compressor with renowned ‘Auto’ release, a comprehensive monitoring section, and up to 18 channels of analog summing, BiG SiX will be an essential tool for many studios.
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