Grammy-winning mix engineer opts for SSL Duality console

UK-based Grammy award-winning mix engineer Wez Clarke (Beyoncé, Jess Glynne, Clean Bandit, Craig David, Tinie Tempah), recently replaced his first-generation SSL AWS 948 with a new 48-channel SSL Duality δelta SuperAnalogue hybrid console.

Clarke was mostly attracted to the console by the additional flexibility offered by it’s full-featured channels. Every Duality input channel comes with twin-curve SSL E and G Series 4-band parametric EQ, full dynamics (gate, expander, compressor/limiter), and Variable Harmonic Drive (VHD) preamps.

VHD introduces either 2nd or 3rd harmonic distortion or a blend of the two to the audio and brings a wide range of colouration to the clean SuperAnalogue Duality input. "I use VHD on most things actually – though subtly," said Clarke. "It gives things a bit of crunch or presence that’s difficult to describe… that was a big selling point for me. It brings something to the table that I didn’t have before… It’s exciting."

Much of Clarke’s source material arrives as stereo stems, which means that the ability to mix up to 24 stereo pairs is an important requirement. The Duality uses two physical channel strips for a stereo pair, which can be fader-linked (ganged) as required (includes Cut, Solo, Cue, FX, Insert In, and EQ In switching).

Clarke has been pleasantly surprised at how easily he has made the change: "I was worried about the mono faders, coming from the stereo faders on the AWS – which I was a big fan of. Strangely, I actually prefer the two faders now. Of course, I’ve worked on desks with mono channels since a very young age, which is probably why it feels natural. It’s almost like rediscovering a workflow that worked perfectly, before getting side-tracked by the convenience of in-the-box mixing during the late 90’s.

"I don’t know why, but it brings more out in me… It’s a lot of fun mixing on this

– Wez Clarke

"I really love the Group Control Faders as well. I normally assign everything to those… The first group is kick drum, then snare drum, then hi-hats, then bass… it goes on like that. I do the levelling there – right in the sweet spot all the time,” he explained.

Clarke uses SSL δelta-Control technology for automation – recording, editing, and saving analogue console automation inside his DAW using the δelta-Control plugin, while another important logistical advantage comes from the Duality’s direct channel outputs, which can be fed from several points along the channel strip. In this case, Clarke uses a post-fader send from each channel to print fader-panned stereo stems in a single pass – an important delivery requirement for most clients.

"I don’t know why, but it brings more out in me… It’s a lot of fun mixing on this,” Clarke added. “You can mould things more, and believe it or not, it has sped things up. You might think it would have slowed things down, but the recalls are fast and everything is to-hand."