FLASHBACK: Solid State Logic SL505

“Used to Mix Films Like Titanic and Return of the Jedi

Year: 1987

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Category: Preamp

History: The SL505 module comes from the 5000 Series console.  Only 120 of these broadcast boards were made, due to the fact that they were so expensive to build and maintain.

Practical Applications: These boards were used to mix films such as Titanic, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi.

Custom Mods: I modified my 505s so that they became mic/line inputs by replacing the I.C. input with a Cinemag transformer. I then reworked the +/- trim so that I could instead get 70db of gain. I also made various custom cases for these units, ranging from lunchbox style to what you see pictured. 

Favorite Features: What I especially like about the 5000 Series cartridges is that any knob can be turned in any direction and as far as you want and the unit holds together.  The SL505, when pushed hard, has a very natural sounding compression.  It acts very much like an Opto Compressor, in my opinion. I’ve used a pair of these SL505s matched with the SL542 EQ as part of a “poor man’s” mastering chain, with some amazing results. It’s one of the few pieces of gear that I can just run a mix through and it comes out sounding better even if I don’t touch a single button. Female vocals and acoustic guitars sound amazing when recorded through this unit.

Maintenance Issues: The 5000 Series Console was built almost entirely of plug-in cartridges with Pre’s, EQ and compressors that could literally be “hot swapped” without shutting the unit down.  Unfortunately, it took as many as 72 rack spaces worth of power supplies, a separate air conditioned room for the power supplies and a team of technicians to keep this “toaster oven” running for any length of time.

Modern Equivalent: This board was so complex and expensive to produce that it nearly destroyed SSL as a company. That said, no one ever tried to replicate it. The closest modern unit is the SSL Xlogic Mic Pre.

About The Author: Robert Wainscott is the Co-Owner and Designer of Black Box Analog, a Ventura, CA based design firm dedicated to hand crafted, American-made audio equipment. Wainscott’s recent brainchild, the Black Box Analog Microphone Preamp has been used on albums by artists like Aerosmith, Fool’s Gold and 50 Cent. Prior to establishing Black Box Analog, Wainscott was the facility manager of Full Clip Productions. For more information, visit www.blackboxanalog.com.

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