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The Top 5 SSL Console Plugins

We’ve all dreamt about it. Having our very own SSL console, in our studios. From reading interviews with top producers and mixing engineers, to hearing those three letters SSL over and over again. Thanks for a variety of new SSL Plugins that dream is becoming closer to a reality.

The SSL brand has become synonymous with hit making in many circles. It has a sound all its own, and by some is considered the fairy dust that makes a record come together. It’s probably the reason why so many people get excited at just the thought of SSL emulation in the box.

The chance of having a slice of that hit making fire in your studio productions for literally a sliver of the price is a draw for many producers.

But like all copies or emulations, sadly none of them are the real thing. It’s almost impossible for them ever to be. From missing features that software is yet to emulate to subtle analog distortions and nonlinearities. It makes emulating this beast so much more complicated than initially perceived by most.

Now with that said it that does not mean that these plug-ins are not excellent in their own way, they all have a sound that makes working with them easy fun and intuitive. That is one thing I think many producers forget, is even though the sound is extremely important, the workflow is equally as important. More than anything, that’s what some of these plugins bring to the table. The elegant workflow that only a console can provide.

The Top 5 SSL Console Plugins: The Contenders

This is exactly why we decided to put them on the list here today. Making it easier to see what the options are, and Adding to this list is more become available. The following seven SSL relations are the best and most popular available today. This list is in no particular order. It is designed to showcase the availability of plug-ins keeping this virtual Legacy alive.

Check out our current list below. In order to make the cut, the bundle had to include a channel strip and a bus compressor both. Single EQ’s or summing emulations were not included in this particular list. For more information on SSL Bus Compressor Plugins check out this post.

The Waves SSL Collection

Oh the good old Waves plugin bundle. The bundle that actually started it all. Back in early 2006 this was the tour the force SSL 4000 plugin to own.

It’s tried, tested and has been available for quite some time. It definitely has its own texture, and comes with the best presets we have found. From producers such as Chris Lord algae and many others, it emulates the classic SSL 4000 counsel E & G models.

The SSL Duende Bundle.

Straight from the horses mouth, or as close to it as you can get. The SSL Duende bundle comes directly from SSL themselves. Modeled after their 300 series digital consoles which model the 9000 series (we think). These plug-ins created quite a stir in the audio community. They used to require an external accelerator firewire box, but are now available as native plugins.

The bus compressor is one of the best in the box, and the channel strip has a very clear tone. Some would say if you want the most genuine SSL experience in the box, this is the way to go.

UAD SSL Plugin Bundle

The UAD SSL collection, formerly known as the 4K collection, until they received their proper endorsement, is one of the finest collections you can find in a plugin. Although it doesn’t do analog saturation that we’re aware of in the current MKI version.
It has a great tone all of its own.

If you’re currently on the UAD platform, it would be hard to go wrong mixing with this bundle. I am particularly fond of the channel strips low-end character while offering two different modes of EQ. This version also emulates the 4000 Series console.

Native Instruments Solid Mix Series

The solid mix series that used to be exclusive to Guitar Rig owners only is now available in its own plug-in series. Emulating the classic SSL sound, this version (which we think might’ve been developed in cooperation with Soft Tube) is a very nice addition to the SSL lineup.

It is three plug-ins instead of two which can make the workflow a little bit less intuitive, but it does offer a “solid” SSL emulation.

Ik Multimedia British Series

IK Multimedia also offers an SSL emulation in the form of the British series Chanel and Bus Compressor. These plug-ins are utilizing IK’s proprietary “supermodeling” technology and have a particularly unique tone to them.

We are fans of the bus compressor because it introduces a grit knob which adds a bit of dirt and in saturation in the signal.

The Top 5 SSL Console Plugins: Summary

What we have learned in trying all of these offerings over the years is that, often the copies are farther even further off from each other than the originals they were attempting to emulate. Not to mention, the various makes and models of the SSL hardware legacy in existence today can make things even more confusing.

Honorable mentions worth mentioning are The Glue, Slate Digital Rack Plugins, and Soft Tubes Console One. Although these were not added above since they are not targeted as direct SSL console emulations, complete with channel strip and bus compressor.

We hope this helps get a grasp on what plug-in bundles are available to get a close SSL EQ and bus compressor experience out of your digital audio workstation today. This list of by no means complete or finished. I hope it will become a living document over time.

If you’re looking for more analog emulations that go deeper into console summing, console color, and saturation, checkout our post on that subject on analog summing emulation.

Did we miss any emulations you think they’re noteworthy? Let us know the comments below will be sure to add them.