SSL E-Series EQ
Mention SSL desk EQ to anyone in the know and their first question will probably be, ‘Which colour?’ SSL explain: “Prior to 1987 SSL used the colour of the Low Frequency EQ knob caps to indicate which type of EQ was fitted. All consoles were custom built and could feature different combinations of EQ module. The following colour codes apply:
E-Series BROWN: The original SSL EQ fitted to all consoles prior to the summer of 1985. Despite the rumours these equalisers only came in one version. The EQ card was called the ’02’.
E Series ORANGE: The infamous EQP equaliser. This was a variation on the Brown EQ with controls simulating the curves of a valve type EQ. Very few were sold. This card was named the ‘132’.
E-Series BLACK: The last version of the standard E series EQ. It evolved in the early 1980’s from discussions with many top engineers and proved very popular. The EQ card was called the ‘242’.
G-Series: With the arrival of the G Series console in 1987 the colour coding was abandoned and the classic SSL end cap colour scheme used today was adopted. First introduced in 1987 the original G Series EQ introduced Q characteristics which were proportional to gain settings and had a degree of over shoot when boosting and under shoot when cutting.”
By bundling them together here we risk inciting the wrath of audio nerds around the globe. So be it. The truth is that unless you’re buying an entire SSL console, you don’t just have to choose one or the other (and even then there are options for mixing and matching different EQ modules). SSL’s current E-Series EQ module for the X-Rack or API 500-series format allows users to switch between brown and black modes. Software emulations offer a similar choice. If you just want one or two channels of the real thing, most good techs should be able to build SSL channel strips or EQ modules into rack-mount units.
Chopstick has a collection of racked SSL modules and rates them highly as all-rounders. “I’m fortunate enough to own four SSL EQs,” he tells us. “They’re great on bass and vocals. I also use them on mid frequencies such as Rhodes, pads, strings and synths. The black knob E-Series EQ always does the job well. It never really stands out, but it sounds clean and sometimes you just need a quality clean EQ. I also used it on my master bus years ago and I loved the tight sound in the bottom end and the beautiful highs. At that time I didn’t have my EMT or Siemens W295b EQs for boosting the highs, which I now prefer over the E-Series. The SSL EQ does exactly the job you need it to do on pretty much any material, but that could also lead to boredom as it lacks a bit of character in my eyes. In relation to electronic music, I’d use it mainly on bass, though it does a good job on the mids and highs too.”
The SSL EQ does exactly the job you need it to do on pretty much any material.
Various companies offer modelled software emulations of these classic all-rounders, including SSL’s own Duende Native Channel Strip plugin. Also check out the Waves SSL G-Equalizer and Universal Audio’s SSL E-Series Channel.