Is The Large Format Console In Danger Now That SSL Has A New Owner?

SSLConsole maker Solid State Logic has a new owner and it’s Audiotronix. The¬†audio conglomerate purchased the iconic console company from majority shareholder Peter Gabriel, who’s owned the company for 12 years. SSL now joins a corporate umbrella that includes¬†DiGiCo, DiGiGrid, Calrec and Allen & Heath.

This fills out the product mix for Audiotronix, since SSL is so well-entrenched in high-end studios, although the company also has a substantial footprint in the live and broadcast markets as well. That footprint is also competition for DiGiCo and Calrec, which one would think would now be eliminated.

The question for current SSL owners is what will customer support be like going forward, always a concern when a vendor is acquired by another company. The company currently employs 160 people in its main office in its Oxfordshire, England and offices in Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo.

You have to believe that this sale was a least partially driven by the fact that demand for large format recording consoles has substantially slowed. Almost everyone now mixes in-the-box, a move driven by the ability to instantly recall a mix, and the only time a large console is used is during tracking, if that. Since so much of current music is also created in the box, it’s not uncommon for only 4 to 6 channels of a console be required for monitoring in those types of sessions. And since high quality outboard signal chains are so common, the need for a console’s worth of analog preamps and EQs is diminished, at least in music recording.

So the days of buying a brand new big console for a studio may have passed. There are plenty of excellent desks on the used market now available for pennies on the dollar, if having a big desk is important. In fact, having a “vintage” desk is preferred, since it can be a selling point for the studio.

The purchase of SSL may be signal that the days of the old recording studio built around the big iron of a console are over though, as the evolution of the studio business continues at a rapid pace.

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