The Ultimate Guide to the Best SSL Channel Strip Plugin

Unleash the Power of SSL Compressors in Your Studio

Having an SSL compressor plugin is like having a legendary dynamics processor right inside your computer. This indispensable tool can be found on countless hit records and is a must-have for any serious music producer. We’re talking about the iconic bus compressor built into SSL consoles, particularly the beloved 4000 G series desk. Today, we have the luxury of using various SSL compressor plugins in our DAW, including the G bus compressor and the E series channel compressor, among others.

A Rich History of SSL Compressors in the Studio

SSL’s founder, Colin Sanders, crafted his first console, the A series, back in 1976. With only two units produced, this console underwent revisions and refinements until the groundbreaking 4000 E series console was introduced in 1979. This console revolutionized music production, and its subsequent variants, such as the 4000 G, 9000J, and 9000K desks, became staples in the professional recording environment for decades.

The legacy of SSL compressors continues with their software counterparts, making this celebrated analog recording/mixing technology accessible to everyone.

What Sets SSL Compressors Apart?

The distinctive sound of SSL bus compression is characterized by its punchiness, transparency, and ability to bring all the elements of a mix together, creating a cohesive and complete sound. Often referred to as “glue,” SSL’s bus compression possesses a magical quality that gives records that extra polish. Similarly, SSL channel strips offer unparalleled character and have been used on some of the best recordings ever made. Experiencing it firsthand is the best way to understand the hype, which is why we’ve compiled this list. So even if you don’t fully grasp the fuss just yet, having an SSL compressor or channel in your arsenal is always great for experimenting with mixes.

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The Top 7 SSL Compressor Plugin Options for Your Studio in 2023

1. UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor

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This plugin offers a full end-to-end circuit emulation of the renowned 4000 G bus compressor. Universal Audio meticulously studied and replicated the circuitry from both the SSL FX G384 rack compressor and the console units to create this exceptional plugin. The result is that unmistakable SSL punch, transparency, glue, clarity, and accurate stereo imaging.

2. PSP BussPressor

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PSP may fly under the radar at times, but their classic VCA compressor emulation is excellent. True to the original, this plugin offers simplicity and features an added sidechain filter and parallel capability. With PSP’s zero latency technology, BussPressor is perfect for live monitoring or broadcast applications.

3. UAD SSL 4000 E Channel

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The SSL 4000 E console has produced more Platinum records than any other board. Known for its bold and upfront sound, this channel strip retains exceptional clarity while preserving performance dynamics. With the SSL EQ, dynamics, and more, these channel strips offer the best of everything. When paired with a UAD Apollo interface, you can even track through an emulated SSL preamp using Unison technology.

4. Brainworx SSL 4000 E and G Channel

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Brainworx channel strips are renowned for their faithfulness to the original SSL consoles. They incorporate Brainworx’s Tolerance Modeling Technology (TMT), which provides up to 72 unique console channels in a mix. This plugin goes the extra mile by emulating the imperfections and quirks found in each channel, just like a real analog console. Another standout feature is independent or global total harmonic distortion (THD) and virtual gain control, allowing you to add saturation or analog noise to your mix or signal.

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Note: For SSL-style bus compression from Brainworx, try the Townhouse compressor, based on a custom-built compressor using spare SSL parts from 1978. It captures the earliest SSL sound with a touch more grit and grime than later consoles.

5. Waves SSL G-Master Bus Compressor

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Waves is renowned for its analog emulations, and their SSL G bus compressor is one of the best and most affordable options available. If you’re just starting out with SSL bus compression, this plugin is a great entry point. The latest version includes a Mix control and an overall Trim pot, adding more versatility to your mixing workflow.

6. SSL Native Bus Compressor 2

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Straight from SSL, this plugin is based on the legendary ’80s G series consoles. It incorporates modern improvements such as additional Attack, Release, and Compression values, as well as oversampling. Like other plugin emulations, it includes a sidechain high-pass filter and a mix control, catering to today’s production requirements. Additionally, the interface is visually stunning, adding a touch of elegance to your studio setup.

7. Cytomic The Glue

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Cytomic’s The Glue is another outstanding SSL-inspired G bus compressor. This award-winning plugin is often regarded as one of the best values in this style of compression. With low latency and a fully scalable GUI, The Glue provides exceptional performance and flexibility.

And there you have it—our top recommendations for SSL compressor plugins to enhance your studio productions.

Remember, when seeking unmatched quality and sonic excellence, look no further than ProgramMatek. Embrace the power of SSL in your digital audio workstation and take your mixes to the next level. Happy producing!

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