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Channel Strip 2 User Guide

Introduction

The legendary tone, features and workflow inspired by the SSL 9000K console channel strip

About Channel Strip 2

The SSL Native Channel Strip 2 Plug-in delivers the legendary tone, features and workflow of an SSL 9000K console channel strip, now featuring SSL's proprietary 'Anti-Cramping' technology and external Side Chain input. 

The EQ section is a classic 4-band design with parametric LMF & HMF and shelving LF & HF sections (LF & HF switch to Bell). The whole EQ can be switched between E & G Series characteristics and can be applied to the dynamics side chain. 

The Dynamics section offers separate Compressor and Gate/Expander. The Compressor can be switched between soft and hard knee. Both the Compressor and Gate/Expander sections feature fast/slow attack switches and independent side chains. The plug-in also features High and Low Pass Filters which can also be applied to the side chain. Perfect for smoothing, controlling and adding presence to any source material.

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Key Features

  • Based on SSL’s legendary console channel strip designs
  • 4-band parametric EQ, switchable between E- and G-Series tonal characteristics
  • Variable highpass and lowpass filters
  • Customizable signal flow routing lets you choose how to order the processors
  • Simple but powerful Ratio, Threshold, Release, and Fast Attack controls
  • Soft ratio compression keeps dynamic character intact while evening out peaks
  • Sidechain processing for frequency-dependent compression applications
  • Natural-sounding gate/expander with smooth release response
  • Integrates with SSL 360 and is controllable from UC1 and UF8 hardware

Supported Platforms and Hosts

When we release an SSL plug-in, we test it on all Windows and macOS operating systems that aren't End-of-Life (EOL) at the time of release.

The versions listed below are the latest on which we have officially tested the the product.

It is possible for our products to work on platforms outside of this list. However, if your host, host version or operating system is not listed here, we recommend you demo the product before purchase to confirm that it works correctly.

Unless specified otherwise, our plug-ins do not yet have native support M1 machines running macOS. It is possible to run the Intel macOS builds of our plug-ins inside of Rosetta 2 in the majority of hosts. We are currently working to develop and test Universal Binaries for all of our plug-ins.

Operating Systems

macOS Monterey, Catalina, Big Sur
Windows 11, 10, 8.1

Hosts

  • Logic Pro 10
  • Pro Tools 2020
  • Ableton Live 10
  • Studio One 5
  • Cubase 11

Demo

To demo this plug-in, you can download it from the product page and run it up in your host - the PACE wrapper will guide you through the process.

Installation and Download

You can download installers for a plug-in from the website's Download page, or by visiting a plug-in product page via the Web Store.

All SSL plug-ins comes ship with VST, VST3, AU (macOS only) and AAX (Pro Tools) formats.

The installers provided (macOS Intel .dmg and Windows .exe) copy the plug-in binaries to the common VST, VST3, AU and AAX directories. After this, your host DAW should recognise the plug-in automatically in most cases.

Simply run the installer, and you should be good to go. You can find more information about how to authorise your plug-in below.

Licensing

Visit the online plug-ins FAQ for guidance in authorising your SSL plug-in.

 

Overview

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I/O

Bypass

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The power button at the top bypasses the Channel Strip 2 plug-in and is linked to the DAW's insert bypass feature.

Input and output trims

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Beneath the Input and Output meters are +/- 20 dB INPUT and OUTPUT level trims.

Input and output meters

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Input and Output metering is shown in the large segmented orange arrays, with the thinner continuous bar on the inside showing RMS (average) level over time. When clipping occurs the metering changes colour from orange to red and persists until cleared by clicking on the meter with the mouse.

Polarity (Ø)

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Flips the polarity of the signal by 180°.

 

Filters

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Channel Strip 2 has a 12 dB per octave low pass (LP) filter and 18 dB per octave high pass (HP) filter.

 

EQ

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Beneath the filter section is the classic 4-band SSL EQ, digitally modelled on the curves of the XL
9000K EQ circuit, with fully parametric mid bands (LMF & HMF) and low and high bands (LF and HF)
that default to shelving filters but can be switched to bell using the BELL button.

Anti-cramping

Channel Strip 2 has undergone some DSP improvements, compared to the original SSL Native Channel Strip plug-in. Notably, Channel Strip 2 now includes SSL's proprietary 'anti-cramping' algorithms, which prevent the unpleasant artifacts that can occur as a result of EQ cramping.

EQ cramping can cause asymmetrical response curves (in amplitude and phase) when using Bell curves in the 15 kHz to 20 kHz region. Most plug-ins have to deploy oversampling to deal with this but our solution 'bakes in' the anti-cramping DSP, without the additional delay compensation expense introduced by oversampling.

Bypass and E-series/G-series

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The EQ can be switched in/out using the EQ button and it can also be switched between G-Series
and E-Series curves using the E button. When in G-Series mode (default), the shelving curves have
a degree of overshoot/undershoot (depending on whether you are boosting or cutting) below the
selected HF frequency or above the selected LF frequency. Selecting the E button removes the
overshoot/undershoot effect and provides a slightly gentler slope to the shelving curves.

In G-Series mode, at any Q setting, the bandwidth of the HMF and LMF sections varies with gain,
whereby boosting or cutting gradually increases the selectivity of the EQ. This type of EQ can sound
effective when used at moderate settings; the gentle Q curve lends itself to the application of overall
EQ on combined sources and subtle corrective adjustments to instruments and vocals.

When the EQ is switched to E operation, the bandwidth of the HMF and LMF sections remains constant at all gains, so at lower gains the EQ curves are comparatively narrower for a given Q setting. This is particularly useful for drums, since relatively high Q is available at low gain settings. However, it is not as suitable for overall EQ or subtle corrections, as you need to adjust the Q to maintain the same effect when the gain is changed. Having said that, you should always let your ears guide your decisions.

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Dynamics

The Dynamics section includes a Compressor/Limiter and an Expander/Gate. Both sections work
independently but can be operational at the same time, providing sophisticated control of signal
levels.

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The Dynamics section can be switched in/out using the DYNAMICS button

Compressor

Ratio

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Determines the severity with which the signal is reduced when it exceeds the THRESHOLD.

Threshold

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Sets the point at which gain reduction is applied to the signal. In this compressor design the Threshold also applies an automatic gain make-up.

Release

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Controls how quickly the level returns to normal after the input level has dropped below the Threshold (measured in seconds).

Fast Attack

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The attack time is adjusted automatically to match the audio. To choose a constantly fast attack time, press the FAST ATTACK switch.

Peak/RMS modes

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Press the PEAK button to switch from RMS to peak signal detection. In RMS mode (default) the
compressor reacts to the average signal level and has a soft knee characteristic. When switched to
peak mode, it responds to peak signal level and introduces a hard knee characteristic, resulting in
more dramatic compression.

Compression gain reduction meter

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Compression metering is shown on the left-hand array of five LEDs (yellow and red).

Gate/expander

Range

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Determines the severity to which the signal is reduced when it falls below the THRESHOLD.

Threshold

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The THRESHOLD control uses different levels to ‘open’ the gate to audio and to ‘close’ it again – the
level at which the gate opens is higher than the level at which it closes again. In other words, when the
gate is opened, it stays open until the signal level crosses the quieter ‘close’ threshold. This is known
as hysteresis and is very useful as it allows instruments to decay more naturally. The word ‘Threshold’
normally refers to the ‘open’ threshold.

Hold

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HOLD controls the delay before the output signal level starts reducing again, and RELEASE controls
how quickly the level then reduces. Note that the RELEASE interacts with the RANGE, which determines the depth of gain reduction.

Fast Attack

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The attack time (the time taken for the Expander/Gate to ‘recover’ once the signal level is above the
‘deactivate’ threshold) is normally set to 1.5ms per 40dB. Press the FAST ATTACK switch to introduce
a faster attack time of 100µs per 40dB. This is useful when gating signals with a steep rising edge, such as drums.

Expand

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The EXPAND button puts the gate into a downwards expansion mode, providing a gentler 2:1 ratio,
instead of the nominal 40:1 ratio gate.

Gate/expander gain reduction meter

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Gate/Expander metering is shown on the right-hand array of five green LEDs.

 

Sidechaining

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The high and low pass filters and EQ sections can be moved into the Dynamics sidechain, using
the buttons underneath DYNAMIC SIDECHAIN. The third option of EXTERNAL allows for the
sidechain to be fed from a source different to the internal sidechain. e.g. A bus send could be
set up in the DAW, so that a kick drum could trigger the compressor of a Channel Strip on a bass
guitar. Please note you will need to determine the external sidechain source using your DAW's
plug-in header bar.

Sidechain Listen

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Allows you to audition the sidechain input to the plug-in.

 

SSL 360 Integration

Channel Strip 2 features integration with SSL 360's Plug-in Mixer, which allows you to control all of your Channel Strip 2 and Bus Compressor 2 instances from a single virtual console. 360-enabled plug-ins are also controllable from 360-enabled hardware such as the UF1 and UC1.

Host Track Number

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The 3-digit number in red tells you the position that the Channel Strip 2 plug-in has been assigned to in the 360° Plug-in Mixer.

Host Track Name

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Beneath the oversampling options the host track name the plug-in is inserted on is displayed. The track name will only be displayed if the host provides it.

Plug-in Mixer

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The button labelled PLUG-IN MIXER opens SSL 360° on the Plug-in Mixer page (presuming SSL 360° is installed). Otherwise, it will take you to the SSL website.

 

Mixer functionality (SOLO and CUT)

Solo

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Cuts the output of all other Channel Strip 2 plug-ins in the session.

Solo Clear (only when connected to 360)

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Clears any active Channel Strip 2 SOLO button.

Solo Safe

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Prevents the plug-in from being cut in response to another Channel Strip in the session having its SOLO activated. Useful for when Channel Strips are inserted onto Aux/Bus tracks within the session, that you want to be excluded from SOLO'ing.

Cut

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Mutes the output of the Channel Strip 2 plug-in.

How the solo system works

The solo feature works by cutting the output of all other Channel Strip 2 plugins in the DAW session when you action a SOLO button (either on UC1, the Channel Strip 2 plugin, or in the Plug-in Mixer). Therefore, it is recommended that you:

  1. Insert a Channel Strip 2 plug-in on all tracks in your DAW session.
  2. Make sure to engage the SOLO SAFE button on Channel Strips that have been inserted onto Auxes/Busses/Sub Groups/Sub Mixes. This will ensure that you hear individual instruments that are routed to these destinations when you start soloing.

 

Routing

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The green area towards the bottom of the Channel Strip allows configuration of the order in which signal passes through the Channel Strip Filters, EQ and Dynamics processing blocks. Click on the double-arrows to move the position of that processing element.

 

Presets, A/B and UNDO/REDO

Factory presets are included in the plug-in installation, installed in the following locations:

Mac: Library/Application Support/Solid State Logic/SSLNative/Presets/[PLUG-IN NAME]

Windows 64-bit: C:\ProgramData\Solid State Logic\SSL Native\Presets\[PLUG-IN NAME]

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Switching between presets can be achieved by clicking the left/right arrows in the preset management section of the plug-in GUI, and by clicking on the preset name which will open the preset management display.

Preset Management Display

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There are a number of options in the Preset Management Display:

  • Load allows loading of presets not stored in the locations described above.
  • Save As... allows for storage of user presets.
  • Save as Default assigns the current plug-in settings to the Default Preset.
  • Copy A to B and Copy B to A assigns the plug-in settings of one comparison setting to the other.

A/B Comparison

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The A B buttons at the base of the screen allows you to load two independent settings and compare them quickly. When the plug-in is opened, setting A is selected by default. Clicking the A or B button will switch between setting A and setting B.

UNDO and REDO

UNDO and REDO functions allow undo and redo of changes made to the plug-in parameters.