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Bruno Ellingham gives Massive Attack's Blue Lines a mixing makeover with SSL
“The new SSL technology enabled me to easily match the large-format console size sound."

Bruno Ellingham gives Massive Attack's Blue Lines a mixing makeover with SSL

“The new SSL technology enabled me to easily match the large-format console size sound."

Dec 18, 2012

Bruno Ellingham

BRISTOL, UK — Solid State Logic, the world’s leading manufacturer of analogue and digital audio consoles, is pleased to announce that In-demand mixer, producer, and seasoned Solid State Logic user Bruno Ellingham has installed an X-Desk+X-Panda summing system,an X-Logic G Series Bus Compressor, and Alpha-Link I/O system in his mix room within Massive Attack’s Bristol-based studio complex. Here he has put his new found SSL combo to good use, giving Massive Attack’s seminal Blue Lines album a contemporary mixing makeover fit for its 20th anniversary re-release, matching the critically acclaimed recording with a truly 21st century take on its sound. All but two tracks from Blue Lines were originally mixed on a large-format SSL console in London’s long-gone Matrix Studios so Bruno turned to SSL once again for the new project: “The new SSL technology enabled me to easily match the large-format console size of sound that we wanted.”

Bruno began perfecting his sought-after mixing skills back in 1995 at Moles Studio in Bath, before leaving in 1999 to start a productive partnership with producer Steve Osborne that lasted several successful years: “We worked with New Order, Starsailor, KT Tunstall, and Steve was part of the Perfecto team with Paul Oakenfold, so we did a variety of different bands — mainly mixing work in Eden Studios in Chiswick, London, which had two G+ SSLs, and also at Real World, so it was always SSL.”

Bruno’s SSL love affair began early— first laying eyes, ears, and hands on a large-format SSL console in 1996 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Box, Wiltshire: “I instantly fell in love; it felt very solid, and the sound that you got back from it was really crisp and exciting.” Bruno’s connection to Massive Attack came about through his association with Tim Goldsworthy (Mo Wax, U.N.K.L.E). “I met Tim Goldsworthy when we were working on the last Goldfrapp record, Head First,” explained Bruno. “Tim had also been working with Massive Attack and suggested the relocation to their studio complex in Bristol. “I’ve always been a fan of Massive over the years, so it was quite an honour to suddenly get to share a studio with them,” enthused Bruno. “My move happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the album, and a suggestion came up to try and do a new mix. At which point I seized upon the idea that maybe it would be an interesting experiment to see if it could be done with a more DAW centric approach considering the fact that it was originally mixed on a large-format SSL.”

Bruno started with a set of Duende Native plug-ins running in Pro Tools: “Whilst I could match the sound of the Blue Lines mixes, I couldn’t match the shape or size of them; I couldn’t get them as deep or as expansive as the original mixes were.” But Bruno’s beloved SSL ‘sound’ was soon booming back out of his compact and bijou Bristol mix room with the welcome arrival of some space-saving SSL hardware. “I got the X-Desk and an X-Panda, so that I’d have 20 faders available to me for whatever scenario, plus some SSL Alpha-Link audio interfaces, which weren’t something I’d ever come across before,” Bruno confessed. “But when I plugged in the audio interfaces and summed my mixes through the X-Desk, suddenly I was able to get that size, depth, and breadth that I’d been missing. X-Desk also has a very good, fast transient response, so you can make things very punchy. It really does have that SSL sound.”

If it sounds like Bruno has deepened his fondness for all things SSL, that’s just the way it is. “I just can’t rave enough about the X-Desk’s mix insert point,” he gushed. “The insert point on the X-Desk has an insert button, which you can also turn on and off, but it also has a summing button, so you can effectively get parallel compression over your mix bus. SSL very kindly loaned me an X-Logic G Series compressor module to go with this hybrid mixing system, so everything’s gone through that; and, I must say, it just sounds brilliant!”

Having been given the SSL summing system treatment, then, how does this new version of Blue Lines sound? Bruno summed it up thus: “It just feels a bit stronger and punchier.”

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