Back at the NAMM Show in 2019, renowned mix engineer Tom Lord-Alge was asked by Solid State Logic to do a demonstration of its new analog recording console, ORIGIN.
As he assimilated the design philosophy of the new console, Lord-Alge reached back to his own origin and pulled the multi-tracks of Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" — which he mixed 35 years ago on an SSL 4000 series console.
"I thought, 'Wow, let's go back to my origin with SSL, which was during that album [Back in the High Life]," Lord-Alge says. "When I was recording that album in ’84 and ’85, we were working on an SSL 4000E console, so I thought it was appropriate to use the song "Higher Love" as the origin of my own career." From the first time he put his fingers on ORIGIN, the console met all his expectations for quality, ease of use and sonic performance. "I sat down at the console and forget it — it was immediately familiar. From that moment on, I talked about the console and joked about getting my own one day. Fast forward, and here we are today!"
Lord-Alge acquired his new console following a recent move to his new home in Miami Beach
Familiar like an old friend
He says certain elements of his new ORIGIN remind him of his old SSL 4000E: "Everything is laid out very similarly to the 4000, except the equalization section on ORIGIN is exactly where it should be — on the lower portion on the channel strip. This is important because you can change equalization settings while you are sitting in the sweet spot. When you need to use the sends, they are right there just above the EQ section."
For Lord-Alge, one of the highlights of ORIGIN is the center section of the console, which features the classic SSL Bus Compressor along with a host of routing and monitoring controls and 12U of configurable rack space.
In one of the side desks that straddles the console, Lord-Alge also integrated several SSL 500 series units including VHD mic pres, LMC+ compressors and SSL E Series Dynamics modules. "Because I am a mixer, I make sure that I always have an external chain available for an overdub if I need it — just in case I am using up the whole console during a mix," he explains. When he had two extra spaces in his 500 series rack, he also chose to include the new SSL Ultraviolet EQ 500 series unit.
Small footprint, massive impact
With ORIGIN, Lord-Alge is able to handle large channel counts with the console's 64 inputs — each with its own fader: "I can do a stem for an entire multi-track by sending two passes through the busses," he says. "For instance, I will do 1-32 for my large faders in one pass going direct out, then flip a button on each module so I can have direct outputs for channels 33 to 64." He also likes ORIGIN's 0 dB button on each channel, which removes the fader from the audio path. "I use this feature all the time when I am doing my fader moves. I will set the fader to where I want it to be, and then I can always hit the button again if I want it to go back."