London, UK (January 16, 2018)—UK-based Grammy-award-winning mix engineer Wez Clarke has upgraded to a new 48-channel SSL Duality δelta SuperAnalogue hybrid console from a first-generation SSL AWS 948.
There were several aspects to Clarke’s decision, but much of it hinged on the desk’s channels. Every Duality input channel comes with twin-curve SSL E and G Series 4-band parametric EQ, full dynamics (gate, expander, compressor/limiter), and Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) preamps.
VHD introduces either second or third harmonic distortion or a blend of the two to the audio and brings coloration to the clean SuperAnalogue Duality input. “I use VHD on most things actually—though subtly,” says Clarke, who has worked with Beyoncé, Jess Glynne, Clean Bandit, Craig David and Tinie Tempah. “It gives things a bit of crunch or presence that’s difficult to describe. [T]hat was a big selling point for me. It brings something to the table that I didn’t have before. It’s exciting.”
Clarke has a rack of favorite and familiar outboard in his studio for particular channels. “I use the outboard in conjunction with the desk dynamics, though in fact I do tend to use console dynamics on almost every channel. Even if you just have it in the path doing a very small amount of compression, it does give a certain sound that is quite pleasing.”
Whereas the AWS 948 has a 24-channel frame and a stereo mix mode for each channel, the Duality uses two physical channel strips for a stereo pair, which can be fader-linked (ganged) as required (includes Cut, Solo, Cue, FX, Insert In, and EQ In switching). “I was worried about the mono faders, coming from the stereo faders on the AWS—which I was a big fan of. Strangely, I actually prefer the two faders now.
“Of course, I’ve worked on desks with mono channels since a very young age, which is probably why it feels natural. It’s almost like rediscovering a workflow that worked perfectly, before getting side-tracked by the convenience of in-the-box mixing during the late ‘90s.”
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