Why the SSL Big Six Is the First Proper Mixer for Modern Musicians

Finally, somebody got it just right

Key Takeaways

  • The SSL Big Six is a hybrid analog studio mixer and USB audio interface.
  • It takes SSL’s legendary audio chops and makes them digital.
  • The most impressive part of the $3K Big Six is its absurdly flexible audio routing options.
Big Six mixer set up on a desk

SSL

The UK's Solid State Logic has come up with a hybrid analog/USB mixer so well thought out that it might be the last mixer you'll ever buy. 

Most mixers are either built for the stage or to record bands, with lots of microphone inputs, or they're more like USB interfaces, with stereo inputs and USB, but no physical controls. The Big Six is both; SSL quality but with a ton of useful stereo ins and outs. It's pretty perfect for the home or small pro studio, and you won't need anything else.

But, of course, not everyone is satisfied. "I would have preferred if they didn't include an interface and given us separate outs on all of the channels instead," Chicago-based musician Hold My Beer told Lifewire via forum message. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. 

Six Appeal

The $3,000 SSL Big Six is the larger sibling of the already-popular SSL Six. The original Six had six input channels (more or less), hence the name. The Big Six is bigger, but the "Six" part is nothing but a nod to the older model. It has eight main inputs for a start.

There are plenty of analog mixers which also have a USB audio interface, which digitizes the audio before sending it to your computer for recording. And several mixers have more than one or two stereo inputs and flexible routing options. But the Big Six is one of the only units that does it all. And while $3K seems like a lot, it's surprisingly cheap in this context. If you were to buy SSL's own analog-to-digital converters in their standalone format, you'd already be paying more. 

SSL is also well known as a high-end audio company. Their studio consoles are legendary, and by all accounts, the Six lineup manages to bring this audio magic into your home. 

Ins and Outs

Imagine you’re a bedroom music producer. You have a microphone and perhaps a guitar, but most likely, the majority of your setup is grooveboxes, synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers. That is, stereo gear. But mixers are still almost always built for recording or mixing live musicians, which means mono inputs for microphones and guitars. Singers use mics, guitar amps are recorded with mics, and drums use several mics to capture the kit. 

The electronic musician, then, either has to buy a box with a bunch of microphone inputs and preamps they’ll never use or settle for a USB audio interface with the inputs but no physical controls. 

The Big Six is the answer, and the forums have gone wild. It offers all of the above, plus an independent USB in/out for each channel. It also has extra places to plug in a tape machine or other devices, and—here’s the good part—two stereo effects send outputs. Those let you route your various instruments through external audio effects—reverb, delay, distortion, that kind of thing.

Big SiX mixer read view

SSL

"The Big Six is the centerpiece of a modern hybrid studio ecosystem—for a reasonable price," Germany-based musician Monotrack told Lifewire via forum message. "It's fun to [record] and mix with the Big Six, and it's even much more fun to connect some high-end [outboard devices] to go much further."

This flexible routing is what's got people so excited. You can send audio from the computer, through your analog effects, and back again, for example. You can use the Big Six's EG and compressor for your synthesizers, but also your computer-generated audio. 

The Big Six might not be for everyone, but if it is, you'll know it immediately, and that $3K will seem like a bargain.

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