SSL AWS Series – a review

SSL AWS 948 Delta on demo at Funky Junk ltd

SSL AWS Series Review

By Louis

The SSL AWS 900 is a console I have come to know intimately having learnt on one at University and then as an assistant and now occasional engineer at Premises recording studios. This relatively small 24 channel split console is at first a little unassuming when compared to its older SSL siblings…but its size combined with two stereo sends, two mono sends, 8 groups, four band swept EQ and classic SSL Bus compressor make it the perfect centre for a modern mid-size studios.

Versatility

If you want one desk that does everything than an AWS might be the answer for you. Very respectable microphone preamps on every channel, familiar, quick and classy EQs, two on-board compressors, plenty of aux and group options, a bus compressor and DAW control means you can sit at the AWS and be prepared for whatever the session throws your way. What’s more, whether by design or happy accident, the padded area below the main faders is the perfect size for a keyboard and mouse, for those used to controlling a DAW that way.

Workflow

However, to my mind the modern recording engineer is a person with varied tastes: you have your APIs for the overheads, 1073s for kick and snare, Thermionic Culture Earlybird for crunchy rooms and so on…these then either hit a little choice compression or EQ and go straight to tools via the patchbay. No faders to get knocked in the middle of tracking and no extra complicated routing to deal with. Then for the monitor path you can bring stereo submixes out onto the AWS from Pro Tools and send them to a hearback system (or something similar) via the groups, or use the two stereo sends as cue mixes and you have a minimum-stress, maximum speed set-up that lets you focus on recording music. Useful for when a manager is breathing down your neck/ the singer is pacing around the control room bored out of their mind touching equipment they shouldn’t etc…

In many ways with a monitor screen mounted above the meter bridge and a mouse in-hand the AWS feels like a seamless extension of your DAW. It allows for all the possibilities and speed of digital recording, whilst preserving the hands on ability to make a session run smoothly and the sound that only an analogue desk allows. Granted everyone wants a vintage Neve with a transformer at every point imaginable, but for a recording studio that needs to pay wages, fix things that break, work quickly on small budgets and in small spaces whilst still dealing with reasonably high track counts and still getting a great sound I cannot think of a better way to spend the money than on an AWS.

But as ever don’t just take my word for it! The SSL AWS delta 948 is on-demo now in our brand new demo facilities so book in a visit now!

What’s more, as part of our Gear Up For Christmas Campaign we have both bundle offers and 0%, 24 month financing options available with the AWS. View all bundle offers here and 0% financing options here.