Total Production

Sam Smith Takes World By Storm With SSL Live

September 2015

Sam Smith’s FOH engineer Simon Thomas selected an SSL Live L500 console supplied by Clair Global for the singer’s worldwide tour.

The Grammy award winner’s summer itinerary is a festival hopscotch between large arenas and smaller music halls in Europe and the US, culminating it all at Brazil’s Rock in Rio in September.  

Thomas had his pick of consoles to mix the shows and ultimately chose SSL Live for its unmatched sound quality. 

“My favourite feature is that it actually sounds really good, like the best quality analogue board you’ve ever used in your life, but with a digital workflow,” he explained. “That’s something that has been lacking from digital boards. Now, because of SSL Live’s flexibility, I can do anything that I want.”

Thomas continued: “Unlike other consoles, the SSL offers more delineation between instruments. This is especially obvious with drums; most digital consoles feel like they’ve got a crossover with a gentle slope that makes it sound like all the drums are rolling into one another. The SSL, on the other hand, feels like a crossover with a very defined slope, so the difference between a snare drum and a kick drum and a tom is well-defined, even with regards to the low-mid crack of a snare, which is usually unattainable with digital desks.” 

Thomas also found that the sound of the SSL Live makes it easier for him to mix. “It’s more responsive; I don’t need to be so extreme,” he explained. 

“When I push a VCA just a couple of dB, I get a noticeable change that is more defined. I find I don’t need to pan things as hard anymore. I still prefer to pan certain things, like keyboards and effects, but we’ve got a string section that I don’t have to move to get the image to change. I feel like it’s more sensitive. I definitely have more image than I had before.” 

Thomas and his team carry full production for the majority of the tour, but are planning to pick up the board in some of the regional territories. “Basically, wherever we go, SSL goes out of its way to make sure we’ve got a desk. With this level of support, I see SSL completely taking over the market.”




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