If there is a single piece of
analogue processing equipment that is synonymous with SSL, it must be the SSL
Bus Compressor. From the very first commercially released SSL 4000B console in
1976 and through many generations of SSL consoles that have followed, the Bus
Compressor has always been the stalwart of the console center section. For many
of the world's top engineers and producers, the Bus Compressor continues to be
the most relied-upon processing tool for making mixes sound bigger and more
complete, with drive and energy from adding that legendary SSL glue and punch.
We've been on a mission to create
the ultimate and most versatile incarnation of the Bus Compressor ever. The
bedrock of the design remains faithful to the original circuit and using this
as the foundation, we've built upon it, adding several unique coloration
options and advanced processing tools. If you need it to be clean and punchy
like the SuperAnalogue 9000 Series version; it can be. If you need it to
be gritty and grungy like an early 4000E, it can do that also. Or if you need
over-the-top, saturated, parallel compression for the drums, THE BUS+ has got
THE BUS+ circuit design utilizes
high-grade components, including 2181 THAT VCAs for superior analogue
performance, four modes of operation, and 3 distinct compression coloration
options which can be combined to perfectly suit the genre you're working on.
THE BUS+ also packs in sophisticated routing options and advanced processing
tools: Dynamic Equaliser (D-EQ); Transient Expander and so much more.
complement the new feature set, we sought to bring improvements that would
benefit recall ability and technical performance.
of the pots on THE BUS+ are stepped and read by a microcontroller which
translates the pots position into the required circuit configuration or
electrical parameter. This innovative approach not only makes recall
significantly easier, it also means THE BUS+ is not subject to pot tolerances –
perfect for precision processing applications like mastering.
BUS+ incorporates a host of advanced processing tools including the new Dynamic
Analogue Equaliser (D-EQ).
D-EQ is a powerful 2-band Dynamic EQ that can be placed before or after The Bus
Compressor. Many engineers are familiar with Dynamic EQ plug-ins inside the DAW
but analogue Dynamic EQs are few and far between.
Dynamic EQ is a more 'intelligent' form of EQ that changes the gain of an EQ
band proportionally in response to the signal level once above a set threshold.
It allows you to modify the contrast between background material (under
threshold) and forward material (above threshold).
The way engineers and producers
use bus compression varies greatly. Some 'set-and-forget' and construct a mix
into the Bus Compressor, while others fine-tune time constants to work with a
particular production, often applying it as the final polish to a mix. We
caught up with a selection of the world's top producers and engineers to get
their feedback on THE BUS+ and see how its legendary glue and punch, in
combination with new advanced processing tools, take their bus processing to
the next level.
Whilst the core design of THE
BUS+ remains faithful to the original, a number of advanced processing tools
have been added to create the most versatile Bus Compressor ever. In addition
to D-EQ and Transient Expander, THE BUS+ features three unique compression
colors; LOW THD, F/B, and 4K MODE. Each color offers a different characteristic
and can be combined for very unique compression styles.
THD MODE introduces a special circuit modification in the side-chain, helping
to limit the amount of low-frequency distortion compression can create,
especially with fast release times. Subjectively, LOW THD 'cleans up' the
bottom end, allowing you to achieve 'cleaner' gain reduction.
(FEED-BACK) MODE takes the signal feeding the side-chain from a feed-back
position (i.e. after the main gain-reduction VCA in the audio path). This
results in a more 'relaxed' style of compression, in contrast to the
traditional 'grab' of the Bus Compressor.
MODE changes the operation of the VCA from balanced to unbalanced (matching how
the Bus Compressor in a 4000-series console was implemented). It also
introduces a variable amount of harmonic distortion via the VCA. These two
factors combine to allow for a more 'colored' sound. THE BUS+ allows you to
adjust the distortion amount which 4K MODE offers. You'll find there's a
certain 'sweet spot' (depending on your mix level) in which your material will
become more cohesive, thanks to the added thickness.
a considerable amount of research and development, we are proud to introduce
the first-ever SSL Dynamic EQ (the D-EQ) as part of THE BUS+. The side-chain is
a specially adapted version of the Bus Compressor side-chain with additional
circuitry such as the gain reduction limiter for the Range parameter. We think
the D-EQ is every bit as musical and powerful as the Bus Compressor itself. The
D-EQ can enhance the top and bottom end of your mix with ease, making it an
extremely powerful companion alongside the Bus Compressor.
D-EQ is a 2-band parallel Dynamic EQ. Each band has 16 frequency points to
choose from, allowing complete control over which part of the frequency
spectrum you want to affect. The High-Frequency band can also be changed from a
shelf filter to a bell curve.
/ Expansion: Each band has a 31-position stepped control labeled with COMP and
EXP at the extremes of the control. As you turn the control clockwise from the
center position '0' (no effect), you start dialing in an expansion effect.
Moving the control anti-clockwise, you start dialing in a compression effect.
side-chain inputs and sends
authentic SSL Bus Compressor circuit
THD Mode reduces low-frequency distortion caused by compression
Mode alters the compression characteristics for a more 'relaxed' style of
Mode - single VCA operation with variable harmonic distortion to bring
some 'grit' and 'grunge' to the mix
Ratios - for creative pumping effects and control of particularly loud
Attack and Release options, including the new 'Auto 2' setting
control for instant parallel compression
gain reduction meters
2-band analogue Parallel Dynamic EQ - the D-EQ
choices of time constants for each band - Nominal, FAST, or AUTO
selectable Frequency points per band
Range control per band from 0.5 dB to 15 dB
band can be switched to a Bell shape, with selectable frequencies covering
High-Mids and Highs
band static 'make-up' gain for LF and HF bands (Stereo/ Σ S/C Stereo) or
LF band (Dual Mono/Mid-Side)
mode changes LF filter to be 2nd order with the degree of
activity LEDs to indicate D-EQ activity
analogue circuit, controlled digitally using stepped front-panel pots
+27.5 dBu headroom
processing order - Bus Compressor pre-D-EQ (default) or post
1 IN and CH 2 IN buttons for global bypass
Operating Level - 0 dB (nominal), +10 dB, -5 dB
and Auto-Sleep modes
MDAC-controlled MAKE-UP Gain with two ranges - 1 dB or 0.5 dB steps