SSL2+ 2×4 USB Audio Interface REVIEW

Solid State Logic (SSL) consoles have been the choice of world-class studios for decades. However, getting one of those expensive (and large) devices into a home situation really wasn’t feasible — until now.

The rear panel of the SSL2+ interface is loaded with connections, from combo 1/4”/XLR audio inputs and 1/4” outputs for monitors, and two headphone connections, as well as full-size MIDI in and outs and red/white RCA jacks for monitoring or routing to a DJ setup, Hi-Fi amplifier or external mixer.

British audio systems have been the pinnacle of recording, and the preamps are exceptional in this unit, which in turn run into converters running at 24-bit/192 kHz for ultra hi-res recordings at home. Ergonomically, all of the connections reside in the back, which makes for a clean look, but if you’re one of those users who keeps plugging and unplugging inputs, you might find that aspect an adjustment to the many competing units that have front facing inputs and controls.

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However the top layout is pristine, with 2 channels each featuring phantom power for your condenser mics, LED level indicators, line or HiZ input selection for guitars, level and a Legacy 4k control, which brings in the high frequency push and harmonics that made SSL boards and their preamp sections legendary.

It’s a richer EQ approach that makes sense, especially with direct guitars and vocals, as it seems to add in bit of warmth and grit overall, but nothing that doesn’t work musically or something you’ll be looking for a work around later on in the mixing process. We found it to work perfectly on everything we threw at it, adding in that little “extra” that sometimes seems to take tons of plug-ins to capture (and even then, it might only get you 80% of the way there).

Separate headphone level controls and a very large monitor level round out the top panel, and after a few minutes of using it, we really started to appreciate the desktop layout.

Like a lot of other small format USB interfaces, it comes with a bucket load of software, but one really pleasant feature was it didn’t need to have some extra program to manage or run it. It was so nice to just connect it via USB and be up and running in no time. For included software, SSL Native Vocalstrip 2 and Drumstrip are available, and to provide a complete creative package, SSL has included Ableton Live Lite, Loopcloud samples, Native Instruments Komplete Start and Hybrid Keys, and a copy of Avid’s Pro Tools First.

Our DAW software of choice for this review was PreSonus’ Studio One 5, and it connected easily with no issues, and right off the bat, we really liked the fact that no extra software was needed to run/control the interface. Initial I/O setup via Studio One’s preference pane was all it took. Plugging in a variety of mics from a Mojave MA-301, AT2020 to a tried-and-true Shure 58 yielded great results for vocals, and acoustic guitar. The Legacy 4k mode was a great addition to start with, and just..well…worked — the added color at the beginning was quite impressive. 

To bring electric guitars into the mix, we connected it to our Strymon Iridium amp and cab IR pedal, and again, excellent results. The Legacy 4k function (which works completely in the analog domain – no DSP!) added in that extra depth and dimension without any EQ tweaking or extra processing. We don’t know, technically, what it’s doing under the hood, but whatever it is, it’s fantastic.

There’s a sea of 2-channel USB interfaces out there, but the Legacy 4k mode really makes this a standout audio-wise, and its control layout and rugged construction makes it feel like you’re running a real, professional session and not a toy box for making demos on your laptop. It’s portable enough, and brings big console sound and function to the bedroom.

PROS:

No added software required, excellent sound quality and ease-of-use

CONS:

None

STREET PRICE:

$279 USD [buy here]

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