The smart modular console. XL-Desk is a modern twist on the classic analogue studio console. It's designed for tracking or mixing engineers who require an analogue console within a DAW centric studio, but don't want or need the integrated DAW control and analogue level automation other SSL console products have made the new hybrid studio standard. XL-Desk is in many ways a traditional 24 into 8 analogue console but it packs in an incredible collection of features. It has 20 channel strips: 16 dual input mono (switchable between main input or DAW return) and 4 stereo channels.
20 + 1 fader, over 40 input SuperAnalogueTM SSL console
8-built in Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) preamps
16 dual input mono channels (switchable between main input or DAW return)
4 stereo channels (switchable to mono for tracking)
The legendary Stereo Bus Compressor, with new high-pass filter sidechain
18-slot 500 format rack built-in, accessible from channels or mix busses
In addition to a 500 rack insert each mono channel also has a standard insert point
4 stereo Mix Busses with their own insert points and access to the 500 rack
One stereo and 2 mono aux sends. Two dedicated stereo return inputs
Direct outputs on every channel, stereo return and mix bus for stem printing
Fully-featured monitoring section with bass management
Foldback A and B with individual talkbacks for headphone mixes
Built in Listen Mic input + classic compressor circuit, with its own direct output
AFL and Solo-In-Place solo modes, with Solo Clear and Solo Safe (Protect) modes
VHD Pre's XL-Desk features 8 of SSL's patented Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) microphone preamps, built-in to the first 8 channels of the console. The VHD pre can deliver clean SSL grade recordings but also features the VHD circuit used in our acclaimed Duality console* which can be switched into the signal path. The Variable Harmonic Drive circuit uses a 100% analogue signal path to generate rich harmonic distortion.
Channel Strips Classic SSL channel versatility XL-Desk may be compact but it features all of the classic SSL channel strip features which make our consoles so versatile and accommodate such a wide range of production requirements. XL-Desk has 20 channel strips. The first 16 channel strips are dual input mono, meaning they can be switched between a main input and a DAW return whilst tracking. The Remaining four strips are stereo channels. Channels 1-8 have VHD mic pre's. Channels 9-16 are line level but can use the 500 rack for mic inputs if desired.
500 Format Slots A 500 format rack, built into your SSL console For many of our users combining different tonal characteristics from a range of analogue equipment by a selection of manufacturers is an integral part of their sound.
Mix Busses The magic of an SSL console x 4 Designed by the team behind Duality and AWS, XL-Desk delivers the kind of stunning audio quality only associated with SuperAnalogueTM SSL consoles. XL-Desk provides the sought after separation, clarity and punch behind thousands of hit records made on SSL consoles. Everyone agrees that the sonic magic of an SSL console happens at the Mix Bus but one bus is not always enough! Many high-profile mixers use multiple mix busses to create parallels or sub-groups of instruments, helping them to compress and manipulate sounds in unique ways. These 'tricks of the trade' are some of the most effective to help take a mix from 'good' to 'great'. XL-Desk provides no less than 4 mix busses - A, B, C and D. Mix A is the master bus, from which the final stereo mix is derived. This has its own 100mm fader. Mixes B, C and D each have their own level control and crucially, the ability to sum into Mix A. All 4 Mix Busses have Direct Outputs for DAW printing, separate standard stereo Insert points and have the ability to access slots 9-16 of the in-built 500 format rack.
Monitoring XL-Desk offers a pristine, SuperAnalogueTM monitoring section, packed with useful features. There are three sets of stereo monitor connections (Main, Mini 1 and Mini 2) plus a sub connection. These are controlled by a front panel button matrix with individual Level controls.
3-way speaker selector - Connect 3 sets of speakers up to XL-Desk
Bass Management with filtering - Connect a subwoofer to extend your low-end monitoring.
Intelligent bass management automatically switches in or out with each speaker set.
Large blue monitor level pot with variable DIM and CUT
Rear panel external input and front panel iJack input to Monitor section
Monitor bus Mono foldown and monitor source sum
Front panel headphone jack
2 solo modes for channels - Solo-in-place (SIP) or After-fader-listen (AFL)
2 Foldbacks - individual talkback to two separate headphone mixes
High-quality in-built talkback microphone mounted into the console's front surface.
Listen Mic input and compressor circuit - allows a dedicated 'listen' microphone to be set up in the live room, so that the engineer can easily hear what the performers between takes. In addition, a discrete Listen Mic output is available for recording 'that' legendary heavily compressed sound!
Workflow There are good reasons why so many leading engineers and producers still choose to mix on a console, some of them because of sonic aspects and others because of workflow choices. Mixing out-of-the-box gives a wider sound-stage and a distinct colouration that no plug-in can equal. We’re also told that it is easier to get a mix together quickly with a console and that it feels more intuitive than a mouse. XL-Desk gives a full-featured console workflow, but with a project-studio friendly footprint under 1m2. With 2 insert points on each mono channel you can mix and match rackmount and 500-s processors to make the XL-Desk the hub of your hybrid studio world! Connect your XL-Desk to a patchbay for ultimate flexibility, and use the direct outs from every channel and Bus to print files back into your DAW for easy mix revisions. The XL-Desk User Manual includes a bunch to detailed tutorials covering different workflow which can be achieved with XL-Desk, including the connectivity required to achieve them. Subjects covered include:
Recording a small ensemble in a 'split' console style.
Recording a full Band and Monitoring Back via Stems
Creating Headphone Mixes for Tracking
Using 500-s Rack Slots 9-16 with Microphone Preamplifiers