8 Mixing Tips for SSL 4000 Plugins + Free Presets

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Top mixing engineers share secret mixing tips and tricks on using the plugins included in the SSL 4000 Collection.

Tony Maserati

Producer / Mixing Engineer

Beyoncé, Selena Gomez, Robin Thicke, Nick Jonas

1. Acoustic and Electric Guitars

“I tend to use the SSL Channel on guitars, both electric and acoustic. I use the EQ in pre-dynamics mode, to reduce the ‘body’ resonance from acoustic guitars and add whatever sparkle I need on the hi-mid and top EQ. The ‘grit’ I can get out of the EQ is similar to what we were able to do with the consoles, so with this plugin the electric guitars always jump out with a little mid boost. The functionality of having an input adjustment and a separate output fader is great. It allows me to compensate for a variety of signal levels and still get the amount of compression and saturation I’m looking for.”

2. Drums

“The SSL G-Master Buss Compressor plugin is standard on my template for a parallel drum buss. I use it to give my drums more punch without losing the body from the original bussing matrix. It gives my drums (and sometimes other instruments) added lift in mixes that are extremely complex.”

Dave Darlington

Composer / Recording, Mixing & Mastering Engineer

Avicii, David Guetta, Sting, Oz

3. EQ for Lead Vocals

“No other EQ shines up a lead vocal like Waves’ SSL Channel. Dial in a nice top-end boost around 8 or 10 kHz and a slight hi-pass filter to eliminate rumble, and you immediately have the vocal sound of countless hit records. You get all the sparkle and clarity without any harshness – a purely analog-sounding silky high end. Add in the compressor for some punch, and your vocal tracks are ready for airplay on the radio!”

4. Compressing Sub Groups

“Everybody knows that the SSL G-Master Buss Compressor sounds great on your master fader – but I love to use it on many of my sub-groups as well. It’s especially great at gluing together drums kits and backing vocals. It’s also fantastic for evening out electric keyboards like Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Hammond, because you can adjust the attack times to react to the transients of a particular instrument’s sound.”

Neil Citron

Guitarist / Producer / Engineer

Steve Vai, Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton

5. Overheads

“On overheads, depending on the sound of the cymbals that were used, I cut anywhere from 3.5K to 6.5K for edge or bite, which sometimes takes up to 6 dB of cut. This softens the crashes and allows the overall kit to open up. Then I look at 110 Hz and below to find the least amount of cut in order to clear the rumble. I compress after I get the sound I’m looking for – this way I don’t have to compress so much that the sound becomes dull. SSL does this really well and without changing the energy.”

6. Stereo Guitars

“For stereo guitars, I love 1K on one side and 2.5K on the other. I bump 300 Hz on one and 400 Hz on the other. This works well for adding body and warmth to most guitars.”

7. Vocal Double

“On a vocal double I like to compress hard with 1K plus 3 to 5 dB and cut some bottom to support the main vocal. Compression instead of distortion is my preference, but both work well in this situation.”

8. Buss Compression

“Buss compression is always 1.5 to 1, with open threshold and release times to add some breathing to the beat. This also adds dimension to your mix.”

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