SSL Buss Compressor: Hardware vs Waves Plugin

SSL Buss Compressor: Hardware vs Waves Plugin


Greetings, my name is Ian Vargo and I’m
here at the Art Institute of California, Inland Empire. And for today’s tutorial for The
Pro Audio Files I’m going to be comparing the master buss compressor on the SSL Duality
to the Waves plugin version of that compressor. Firstly, let’s learn a little bit more about
the master buss compressor. On the hardware version of the compressor
we have control over the threshold, attack with a range of .1 milliseconds up to 30 milliseconds,
ratio, make-up gain and release with a range of .1 seconds up to 1.2. And some sidechain
and surround options. So here we see in Pro Tools, I’ve got an
uncompressed version of this song which is Black Widow by Ugly, Ugly Words — Make sure
to check it out on iTunes. And then various printed versions of the analog compressed
song. Ok, so let’s take a listen to the version with no compression whatsoever. [song without compression] So, it’s sort of a loud rock and roll tune
with a lot of screaming and electric guitars. And of course the SSL compressor like many
other compressors will behave very differently depending on the source material. So now let’s
take a listen, these are all the different analog printed versions right here. And I
took note of the settings as I printed them, ok. So, first let’s take a listen, we’ve
got with a 10ms attack time with an auto-release. [song + compression: fast attack (10ms), auto-release] Generally, I like to keep slow attack times,
especially on the master buss and the auto-release does a really good job on both the analog
and digital versions of the compressor. I try to keep the threshold set in such a way
that I’m only compressing between 1 to 2 maybe 3 dB at most. Because as you will hear,
once you start compressing more, you really compromise the transient of the kick and snare
drum and it really brings up the room of the drums and the vocals and other instruments
in a way that is not always pleasing. Ok, so now let’s take a listen to version 30ms
attack time with auto release. [music + compression: fast attack (30ms),
auto release] So very similar to the other version that
I played and really not that much different than the version without much compression.
I sort of just like using the SSL compressor for subtle color and gluing instruments together.
Now we’ve got a very fast attack and slow release, so what you’re doing to hear is
the kick and snare drum really being compromised. [song + SSL buss compression: fast attack,
slow release] It does however do a cool thing to the electric
guitars, so what you could do is just send your electric guitars and bass and maybe vocals
through the SSL compressor and leave the drums out. K, let’s check out now fast attack,
slow release. [song + buss compression: fast attack, slow
release] It does sort of get rid of the transients
but brings up the rooms in sort of a cool way. Here we have totally slammed, fastest
attack, fastest release. [SSL buss compressor with fastest attack,
fastest release] So while it does give a sort of explosive
quality to everything, let’s take a listen again to the uncompressed version and you’ll
hear, we sort of miss out on the kick and snare drum. [uncompressed vs compressed versions] And something that I often use is a setting
sort of with a very slow attack and fastest release if not auto. And once again only about
1 to 3 dB of compression. Ok, so now let’s take a listen to the digital version and we’re
going to open up this plugin right here. There are some differences between the hardware
and software versions. Different ratio, release, and attack settings and this special fade
out feature. So let’s take a listen, I’m just gonna poke around here. [music + Waves SSL G Master Buss Compressor] That would be a pretty safe setting for me,
I might even use a slower attack time, let’s try auto-release. [music + Waves SSL Compressor w/ auto-release] Sort of lifts everything, brings everything
forward and adds a little bit more intensity. Let’s change the threshold here. [song + Waves SSL Buss Compressor] And turn up the make-up gain. If we wanna
really go overboard let’s go with a fast attack. And as you can hear the kick and snare
drum are almost totally lost. Let’s try the fastest release and a little less make-up
gain. And try the different ratios. So overall, if I were to compare the analog
and digital versions of the master buss compressor, I would say definitely you get a cooler vibe
out of the analog version, perhaps, you know, you don’t need to recall when using the
digital version, but truthfully if I had the amount of money — the several thousands
of dollars it costs to purchase the analog version — I would probably just go with
other collections of plugins or other outboard gear. But it does have a cool gluey sound,
it brings everything together and makes a more cohesive mix. But overall, I would not
say it’s one of my top go-to compressors. Thank you for taking the time to check out
this tutorial for The Pro Audio Files. Make sure to check out Ugly, Ugly Words on iTunes.
And we have open houses here at the Art Institute of California, Inland Empire if you’d like
to know more about audio production and the SSL Duality. Once again this has been Ian
Vargo. Thanks!

24 thoughts on “SSL Buss Compressor: Hardware vs Waves Plugin”

  1. @Ian Vargo At the end of your video, you said that the SSL wasn't one of your top/"go-to" compressors.  Could you give your recommendation for an alternative buss compressor and what separates it from the SSL?  I recently downloaded a demo of Steven Slate's Virtual Buss Compressor and love the three variants (Red, Grey & Mu).  I have all of there other stuff (FG-X, VCC, VTM, etc.) but the VBC has made a world of difference in the cohesion of my mixes.  

  2. this made me laugh, the software sounds much more transparent to me, the analog version has more of a 'colour' and tone, that's the only way I can describe the differences. Honestly though, I prefer it with no compression.

  3. New video from @Ian Vargo comparing the buss compressor on the SSL Duality at @The Art Institute Inland Empire with the @Waves Audio SSL G-Master Buss Compressor.

  4. You said, "If I had the money to buy the analog version, I would go with other collections of plugins." What does that mean? If you had the money for a hardware SSL you'd just use other plugins? Or other plugins plus an SSL?

  5. I like software version better. idK maybe it depends on the listener. the track on Hardware version sounded smashed.

  6. I agree the SSL hardware is great.But you should check out  UAD SSL plugin its not bad at all that company rocks !!!!

  7. once  I tried about 20 different digital VST EQ's on a "flat" setting, but still running the signal through the EQ, and then switching them on and off, and the Waves SSL was the only EQ that added no hiss, or noise of any kind to the track on a flat setting.You could hear how clean it sounded. Fab Filter was up there too.
    I am not talking about what "sounded better", only the "cleanness" of an EQ–you know like it's supposed to sound like it's not there at all if it's a flat setting.

  8. I also have both and feel that the plugin is a little harsh sounding especially if you listen to your audio using some DT770 cans. The hardware is smoother sounding which will clearly show up at high volume or ear buds. That being said the Waves version is very good so in a way I agree with you, though I clearly would not trade my SSL for anything.

  9. In the intro of this video the song sounds like it was processed by different equipment than the two comps compared throughout the videos duration. Would you mind explaining what and how the intro version was processed? Thanks in advance

  10. The SSL compressor is really forgiving of high values of compression. For rock tracks it's great pushing it 4 dbs and even more. With an attack of 3ms and auto release it's total rock sound. The best 2bus compressor ever, hands down. With 1-2db it glues the tracks really nicely, but it's great to hear it really pumping a song in your face.

  11. The hardware introduces weird fluttering effect when compressed heavily. Definetly would prefer the plugin version anyday.

  12. I guess there's difference between the Duality Buss Compressor and an original 4K G-Master Buss, the plugin emulates the latter so the comparison is not so fair… I still can hear the difference in vibe, although not so great but is there, the hardware being "obviously" more authentic, this is not about controlling dynamic range, this is more about the soundprint and tone this particular comp is known for. If you WORK in the field and want to deliver finished masters to your customers I feel like having a stereo SSL style buss compressor and a stereo Pultec style EQ just for polishing the sound and give some transformer and tube colour could give you edge over a thousand other mixing engineers out there. If you are good in the work done before that…

  13. But isn't the SSL hardware compressor digital anyway? I thought the SSL Duende was just a direct port of the same algorithm? Therefore nothing to emulate.

  14. Thank you very much for this demonstration. Wave's version had a certain amount of harshness in the upper mids. Psycho acoustic laws dictate that it takes only small amounts of harshness in the upper mids or trebles for those to appear offensive.

  15. To my ears the difference is very clear. The hardware version is smoother. You don't hear the compressor working as hard as you do with the plugin, so the harmonic qualities (overtones ect.) are just more natural.Again, this is just my opinion.

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