ADVANCED RECORDING PRIMER

BY ROBERT DENNIS

SOLID STATE LOGIC 4000E CONSOLE MASTER CONTROLS

Master Panel Controls
The Master Panel of the SSL 4000 contains controls that affect output signals or affect multiple input/output strips.  On the diagram below, click on a control or button to get an explanation of its function.

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Figure 1: SSL Master Control Panel

POWER INDICATORS
The four different indicators show that the four power supplies needed for console operation are putting out voltage.  If one of these indicators is out, maintenance should be immediately performed on the console.
OSCILLATOR CONTROLS
OSCILLATOR GROUPS BUTTON - This button injects the oscillator output to the multitrack outputs of the console and can be used to record test tones on the multitrack tape.
OSCILLATOR MIX BUSS BUTTON - This button injects the oscillator output to the main mixing busses of the console.
OSCILLATOR ON BUTTON - This button turns on the oscillator.
OSCILLATOR FREQUENCY CONTROL - This allows the user to choose one of eight different test tone frequencies.
OSCILLATOR LEVEL CONTROL & CALIBRATE ADJUSTMENT - The oscillator level control sets the output level of the test tone generated by the oscillator.  In the fully clockwise position, the screwdriver "calibrate" control determines the level.
COMMUNICATIONS VOLUME CONTROLS
TB TO CANS LEVEL CONTROL- This control will adjust the level of the control room microphone signal being sent to the cue buss when one of the cue buttons is pressed in the communication controls.
TB TO STUDIO LEVEL CONTROL - This control  will adjust the level of the control room microphone signal being sent to the studio speakers' amplifier.
SLATE LEVEL CONTROL -  This control sets the slate level (the level of the control room microphone signal that is sent to all multitrack and mix outputs of the console when the Omni Button in the communication controls is pushed.
LISTEN 1 LEVEL CONTROL -  This control sets the level of the studio listen microphone 1 signal that is sent to the control room monitors when the Listen Mic Button in the communication controls is pushed.
LISTEN 2 LEVEL CONTROL -  This control sets the level of the studio listen microphone 2 signal that is sent to the control room monitors when the Listen Mic Button in the communication controls is pushed.
MASTER CUE AND AUX SEND CONTROLS
LF SEND LEVEL - This control is the bass tone control for the send's output signal.
HF SEND LEVEL - This control is the treble tome control for the send's output signal.
CUE STEREO MASTER LEVEL - This control adjusts the signal level on the stereo cue buss.
AUX   MASTER LEVEL CONTROLS (1-4) - These controls adjust the level on the (1-4) aux busses.
STEREO ECHO RETURN CONTROLS
SPIN LEVEL CONTROLS AND SPIN IN BUTTON - Spin is the British term for feedback.  When the Spin In Button is pushed, the Spin Level Control is activated.  The Spin Level Control will send the return signal back to the aux send.  If the sends and returns rev hooked up to a delay device, this will cause a repeated echo effect in that send and return.  Note:  this control should only be used if the send and return is connected to a delay device.
RETURN TO CANS LEVEL CONTROLS AND ASSIGNMENT BUTTONS - These controls are supplied to provide reverberation/effects in the cue headphone system.  Pushing the Stereo Cue assignment button will connect the return to the stereo cue buss.  The level control adjusts the amount of the return signal that will be sent (adjusting the amount of reverberation in the cue mix).   Note:  "Cue 1" refers to the "Aux 1" buss and "Cue 2" refers to the "Aux 2" buss - these assignment buttons are provided because Aux 1 and Aux 2 can be wired as additional cue sends for studio musicians during recording.  Return 1 cannot be sent to Cue 1 and Return 2 cannot be sent to Cue 2 to prevent feedback.
FRONT / BACK RETURN PANPOTS AND IN BUTTONS - The F/B Panpot in button activates the Front/Back Panpots.   The Front / Back Panpots pan the return signal between the front and back main mixing busses.
RETURN PAN BUTTONS - This button, when pushed, makes the stereo return into a mono signal and makes the Return Balance Control become a return panpot.
RETURN BALANCE CONTROLS - These controls will adjust the stereo balance of the stereo return signal being sent to the main mixing busses.
RETURN LEFT AND RIGHT CUT BUTTONS - These buttons will mute the return to either the left or right main mixing busses.
STEREO RETURN LEVEL CONTROLS - These level controls determine the amount of the return signal; that is sent to the main mixing busses.  The AFL button allows the return to be soloed for the signal after the level control.
QUAD COMPRESSOR CONTROLS
The Quad Compressor compresses all four main mixing busses (left front, right front, left back & right back).
The dB Compression Meter shows the amount of gain reduction that is taking place at the moment.
The Threshold Control sets the level at which the Quad Compressor will start to compress the mix buss signal.
The Makeup Gain Control can be used to restore normal level on the mix busses after gain reduction by the Quad Compressor.
The Attack Time Control sets the amount of time before the compressor reacts to signals crossing the threshold while increasing.  The control is calibrated in milliseconds (from 1 to 30 ms). 
The Release Time Control sets the amount of time that it takes for the compressor to restore gain when the signal dips below the threshold level.  The control is calibrated in seconds (over a range of 100 ms to 1.2 seconds).  The "Auto" setting gives a variable release time that is determined by how fast the signal originally crossed the threshold to cause compression.
The Ratio Control sets the compression ratio from a mild compression (2:1) to a medium compression (4:1) to a limiting setting (10:1).
The Quad Compressor In Button activates the Quad Compressor in the main mixing busses.
STATUS CONTROLS
Status Buttons - The operation of the status buttons is included in the SSL 4000G Strip Controls description.
STUDIO CONTROLS
STUDIO CUES LEVEL CONTROL - This control sets the level of the mix buss being sent to the stereo Q buss when the Quad To Cues console status is activated. 
STUDIO LOUDSPEAKER LEVEL CONTROL - This control sets the level that the mix buss is sent to the studio loudspeakers during Replay or Mix console status.  
QUAD METERS & MASTER VCA CONTROLS
VCA TRIM CONTROL AND IN BUTTON -  This control will trim the level on all large faders unless the fader is set to independent status (with a red "I" assigned in the VCA Assignment Switch).
AUTO FADE CONTROL AND IN BUTTON - The control sets the time of a fadeout of the mix busses, which starts as soon as the in button is pushed (range is 1 to 60 seconds). 
AFL LEVEL CONTROL AND ACTIVATION BUTTON - Activating the AFL with the button makes all solo functions for the board become after-fader recording solos in mono and the level control sets the solo listening level. 
QUAD MASTER FADER -  This slide controls the mixing buss levels (also referred to as the Stereo Master Fader). 
CHANNEL INPUT TO METERS BUTTON - This button causes the meters to read the input level of the main channels (before the fader).  The meters normally read the consoles levels out to the multitrack or the tape return levels (depending on console status).
VCA TO METERS BUTTON - This button causes the meters read the VCA voltages controlling the gain of the large faders.
QUAD METERS TO DESK OUTPUT BUTTON - This button makes the quad mixing meters read the quad mix buss output of the console.
QUAD METERS FOLLOW MONITOR BUTTON - This button makes the quad mixing meters read the level of what is selected to be heard at the desk output. 
COMMUNICATION  CONTROLS
LISTEN MIC BUTTON - This button makes the control room monitors receive the listen microphone signals.
OMNI BUTTON -  This button sends the control room microphone to the studio loudspeakers, to all of the multitrack and mixing buss console outputs and to the cue system. 
CUE BUTTON - This button sends the control room microphone signal to the cue system

 

MASTER MONITOR CONTROLS
MONITOR VOLUME - This control (below "external to monitors" switch) will adjust monitor speaker volume.  NOTE: Since the mix buss output is used for monitoring, both the speaker volume control and the quad master fader (below the "dim level" control) must be up to monitor signals.
EXTERNAL TO MONITORS - This button removes the mix buss from the monitors and replaces it with any of the 13 sources controlled by the buttons above it. The top 3 buttons give the three possible cue mixes in the monitors and the next two buttons (labeled Cue 3 & 4) give the auxiliary send signals (echo send signals) in the monitors. The next eight sets of buttons can be wired to 2-track machines outputs or anything else, like turntables, that wants to be monitored.  During the recording session the engineer will often choose "cue stereo'" and "external to monitors" to hear the stereo cue mix being sent to the musicians' headphones. Turning off "external to monitors" will then give regular monitoring of the 24 track signals. Anytime later in the session, if the engineer wants to hear the cue mix he/she just pushes "external to monitors."
EXTERNAL 'TO STUDIO - Allows a similar choice of sources to be sent to the studio monitor speakers.

MINI MONITOR BUTTON - Switches the monitor output to small speakers.

MINI LS CONTROL - Volume control for small speakers.

ALT - Switches monitor output to a 3rd set of speakers. Volume of these speakers will be controlled by the main monitor-volume control.

MONITOR DIM BUTTON  - This button reduces monitor level. This allows you to answer a phone or ask a question without killing the monitors.

DIM LEVEL - this volume control determines how loud "dim" is.

MONITOR CUT BUTTON  - Mutes the monitors (turns them off completely).

MONITOR MATRIX BUTTONS - '"Mono" button gives you mono monitors. "'Stereo" gives stereo monitors from the front speakers. "Quad'" gives you quad speakers using the front & back speakers (if they are hooked-up). Pushing both "Stereo'" & "Quad'" lets you hear all four of the quad outputs on the front speakers.

MONITOR CUTS AND TRIMS - are located to the upper left of the panel. You can selectively turn off loudspeakers: main left, main right, mini left or mini right. Outputs can be trimmed so one side can be made slightly louder or softer. The trims are used when the engineer isn't sitting midway between the speakers but wants to get a balanced stereo image.

Computer and Tape Machine Controls:

The right-center panel of the Solid State Logic console contains the computer and tape machine controls. The computer screen is in the top half of the panel. The keyboard and remote controls for the tape machine are on the bottom half of the panel and are shown in figure 2.

The multitrack tape machine remote controls are manual controls for rewind, fast forward, stop, play and record. Alternately, commands for the tape machine can be entered into the computer to control the tape machine functions. In order for the computer to control the multitrack tape machine movement, the "tape enable" computer status switch (top row of controls) must be turned on. If the computer is used to activate the record mode of the tape machine, the "record enable" switch must also be turned on.

Figure 2: Computer Keyboard & Tape Machine Controls

Using The Solid State Logic Computer

The Solid State Logic Console has a computer that will keep records for the session and will control the transport of the 24-track tape machine.
The computer at R.I.D. uses 8-inch "floppy" discs to store the data for one reel of tape. The disc is therefore called a "Reel Disc." The disc drive that the reel disc uses has an "R" above it. Do not disturb the other disc drive that is used by the computer for program information (instructions that tell the computer how to perform tasks). 

These floppy discs are actually magnetic recordings on a round disc that is protected by a plastic sleeve. The discs are easily damaged. Do not bend them; always put them back into their protective paper sleeves when removing them from the drive; do not touch the disc surface; and do not write on labels attached to them with anything except a felt-tipped pen (a ball point will damage the disc).

The computer has dedicated keys that will type short command words with on press of a key. The computer also has alphabet keys and number keys. In the directory below the dedicated keys are bold and commands that have to be spelled out are in regular type.

In order for the computer to control the 24-track tape machine transport, the "Tape Enable" button above the screen must be pushed. When you first prepare a new reel disc the computer will ask if you want the disc checked - always respond "yes" to assure that you have a good disc.

When starting a new session, automation from a previous session might still be active. The "Solid State Logic" logo on the drive on the right hand side is actually a button. Pushing this will reset the computer.

Command

Result

LABEL EXECUTE

This command us used to prepare a blank disc for use as a reel disc. Using the command will also erase the data on a reel disc. The computer will respond with a warning and ask you if you are sure.

Y

This tells the computer "yes" when it asks you a question; pressing any other key is "no."

LOAD EXECUTE

Puts any reel information from a reel disc into the computer.

ART FOUR TOPS EXECUTE

This command would enter "Four Tops" as the artist on the reel. You must put a space between AR and FOUR TOPS. Using the first two letters and a space will allow you to enter names of Client, Engineer, Assistant, Speed, Etc.

NAME TITLE REACH OUT

FROM 2:30 TO 6:30 EXECUTE

This command would enter the title "Reach Out" and tell the computer that the tune starts at 2:30 counter time and went to counter time 6:30. If left off "from 2:30 to 6:30" the computer would enter the title starting at the counter time where the tape was at the moment - it would enter a "?" for the end time. The computer screen will change only display titles and times. This is called the "Title Page."

TITLE FROM 1:16 EXECUTE

This changes the entered start time for a tune. End times can be changed also with a similar command.

TITLE B EXUECUTE

If the tunes "Reach Out" and "Bernadette" were on the reel it would change over to "Bernadette." A cursor shows you what tune you are on.

LIST EXECUTE

Puts you back on the general information page of Artist, Client, etc.

LIST TITLE EXECUTE

Puts you back on the Title Page.

Command

Result

NAME TRACKS EXECUTE

Allows you to enter track data on track page. The arrow keys will move the cursor to a different Track. The execute key will end the typing for one track name.

END

Finishes the track data after you've entered the data.

LIST TRACK EXEXUTE

Displays track page.

GO TO 2:00 EXECUTE

Sends the tape to counter time 2:00.

GO TO TITLE EXECUTE

Takes the tape to the top of the tune you are on.

CYCLE TITLE EXECUTE

Plays the tune, rewinds, plays the tune again until you push stop or enter another command.

CYCLE FROM 2:00 TO 2:15 EXECUTE

Winds the tape to 2:00, plays it until 2:15, rewinds and repeats until you stop it.

Generally, the computer is very friendly and will do what you tell it to do. Always use the EXECUTE key to activate the command. If you said PLAY TITLE and pressed EXECUTE, it would play the title.

GO ON TO PART 4 - SSL PATCHING & ADVANCED USE

RETURN TO ADVANCE RECORDING PRIMER CONTENTS

Copyright 2001, Robert Dennis, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED