We had a chance to check out the Solid State Logic SSL2 and SSL2+ at the winter show this year, and let’s just say this is probably one of the biggest buzzes we were hearing about around the entire convention. For those aware of SSL and who they are, we’re all fond of their high-end consoles and other audio products they bring typically to the professional world of music making. However, could you imagine some of their technology in some home studio applications and introduced into a range that is, pretty simply put, affordable? Well this is what we get when it comes to the SSL2 audio interface. And it’s amazing!
Features of the Solid State Logic SSL2 Audio Interface
- Two (2) mic/line combo microphone preamps
- Resolution: 24-bit / 192 kHz (AKM converters)
- 4K Legacy mode (one for each channel)
- USB-C connectivity
- 48V phantom power
- Neutrik XLR/Jack connectors
- Alps pots
- Amp output: High-current NJM
- Compatible with Mac/Windows
- Software: Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, Bomb Factory plug-ins, Komplete State, Hybrid Keys, 1.5 GB Loopcloud samples
Standouts of the SSL2 audio interface
This little guy packs a powerful punch. It made it into our best Mac audio interfaces for a reason (no, it’s isn’t Mac only, but we recommend this to whatever OS you’re on!). The buzz we heard around the convention as well as the internet now that it’s been released has given many people time to come forth with their opinion. So we’ll squash all of that right now — this is SSL’s first USB audio interface, embrace it! Why complain? Why not have this at our fingertips in case it’s what certain musicians need? We’re very into upgrading into this Solid State Logic SSL2 interface if you’re using a Scarlet or something similar to those popular home studio desktop interfaces. And we rarely say that about new gear.
With that being said, it first and foremost, and most importantly in our opinion, provides us with SSL’s analog preamp designs and can take in instrument level, line level and the needed mic signals, too. So what makes everybody rave about SSL tech? Simply put, the sound. Analog, warm, and overall authentic and natural recordings. But don’t forget about the numbers. Their preamps in this SSL2 audio interface gives us more than 130 dB EIN or input noise equivalent, and a whopping 62 dB of gain which is not ever seen in a desktop interface within this price range. Some other specs we felt were noteworthy and stood out were the dynamic ranges, covering a flat spectrum of within .05 dB from 20 Hz to kHz in the instrument and line level, while the mic range is within a tenth of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Let’s talk ins and outs. The two channel ins are combinations, so you have a choice for your XLR mic or instrument lines, a USB-C connection jack (yes, definitely equivalent with both Mac and PC — you also get a USB-C to USC-C or USB-A to USB-C cable in the box), two balanced quarter inch outs for monitors (the 2+ also has an additional two unbalanced RCA jacks, which is geared towards those using mixers or really anything else you need hooked up to your SSL2 interface that required unbalanced paths). The 2+ also gives us MIDI in and out. If you’re concerned about USB power for the preamps, USB-C hasn’t shown issues at all when it comes to that.
Using the Solid State Logic SSL2
User-friendliness within this price range can be deemed as important for many, although we’re always proponents of disallowing that from steering us in a particular direction when buying audio equipment. If it’s worth the time to invest, it’s worth buying, although the Solid State Logic SSL2 audio interface gives us some pretty nifty features at the center of the console without much hassle. During the demo, we saw quite a few highlights — two input channels, some 48V+ phantom power for your mics, LED bar meters for tracking, and separate gain controls for each channel. The monitor control itself its quite large and is easy to grab and twist if we need, and a smaller monitor mix knob up at the top to have control over our DAW or input channel sounds, or perhaps we want to blend them both while we record to listen to what we have so far.
Most notably however and what in our opinion really makes SSL stand out from some other audio interface competitors within this price-range (that have been dominating for years, we’re looking at you Focusrite), is their “Legacy 4K” mode, which can be engaged on the interface with a button (separate one for each channel). What this does is based off of their legendary SL 4000 consoles — it affects your input channels by adding emphasis on the top end of your signal and some harmonic distortion which really brightens up your recording. If we can describe it as best as we can, it’s this — it essentially fattens, or ‘beefens’ up the signal and helps it stand out in the mix (how do we find words to describe a ‘sound’? you’ll have to hear it yourself. Sweetwater’s SSL2 overview briefly does a test with an SM58 — we linked you to the exact spot in their video). The extra top end emphasis is a favorite of ours, especially for recording vocals and acoustic guitars.
Concluding the Solid State Logic SSL2 review
A few criticisms we’ve heard some state is the lack of inclusion of ADAT, Dim controls, dedicated monitor output or S/PDIF. If these are important for you (we can’t imagine it’s completely make or break), you may have to look elsewhere, but that may end up costing you a lot more money. This SSL2 audio interface however in our opinion is a game changer and we’re loving this move by SSL, and they’re starting to give Audient a run for their money. A company that typically only produces higher-end consoles for pro and semi-pro studios has now entered the home studio game, and we’re seeing some brands start to catch notice. This is not only to start competing with others in the market, but also to merely stay relevant.
And why is that? Because as technology continues to grow and pro studios are becoming less popular (we won’t even think about renting studio time ever again), the “bedroom producer and musician” game is only continuing to grow. SSL wanted to get their hands wet in this category and we understand why. This only helps out the consumers, and gives us an advantage as the years go by and more and more higher-end gear is becoming affordable for us. It’s promising to us because it allows talent to really shine through, since nowadays everybody can have a studio in their closet or garage. But not everybody can make great songs.
Of course, many gatekeepers will criticize SSL ever since they were bought out, and state that they’d only like to see this company make higher-end gear and stay away from this category. Again, we don’t see the problem. This may very well make other companies start to up their game and make better interfaces. The Solid State Logic SSL2 audio interface is just simply easy to operate, with a nice desktop build and ultimately the biggest critique with any type of recording equipment — a great sound. You can also look into their SSL2+ audio interface, which is listed at about $50 more retail and has an extra headphone out, MIDI in and out, as well as some more unbalanced outs (in other words the 2 is a 2i2, while the 2+ is a 2i4). Otherwise, the Solid State Logic SSL2 is beautiful, simply put. We are definitely close to buying one (update, we did). Read our best audio interface under $300 guide for some competitors, but not many come close.