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Microphone Month

Solid State Logic XLogic Alpha Channel Reviews

4.5 stars based on 15 customer reviews
Questions about the Solid State Logic XLogic Alpha Channel?

Questions about the Solid State Logic XLogic Alpha Channel?

Or call us at (800) 222-4700

  • from Ohio January 10, 2016Music Background:
    Audio Engineer in training

    You need one!

    This channel strip is simply amazing! We would all love a SSL console in our studio wouldn't we? Yes I know. We all don't have a extra $100,000 laying around for one. Well this channel strip will get you the sound of that $100,000 SSL console for a very small fraction of the price!

    Every function on this channel strip is nearly identical to that of a real SSL console and it sounds just as amazing! This strip will make any decent mic sound like something much more expensive. If you think that's something try a really good mic though this thing. Talk about being blown away!

    I ran my Rode K2 though this strip and it sounded like a totally different (and much more expensive) mic! I couldn't believe the detail in the sound! It was just like being in a major studio running a mic through the pre's of a SSL 4000. If someone recorded through this strip and the pre's of a SSL console, and then played it back and asked you to tell them which one was which, you really wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

    Yes, it's that good and for the price your almost stealing it! The sound can go from very clean and flat to rather colored and warm depending on where you set the harmonic drive. While I'm on the subject of the harmonic drive let me say this is a really nice feature and helps those cold sounding mics in your collection sound like you paid a lot more money for them. Guitar and Bass sound fantastic through this as well.

    That Harmonic Drive will take your instruments sound to a whole new level that you didn't know existed! (And that's no exaggeration!)

    The EQ is, well, your typical SSL EQ. It's simply brilliant and as musical as you would expect SSL EQ to be. I really like the open sound of this EQ. It just doesn't get in the way of your tone and sounds really natural. Something else that I really like about the EQ section is you can totally take it out of the signal path. A mark of a truly professional unit. The only criticism I have of the EQ is you get a slight audible "click" in your signal when you disengage the EQ.

    That isn't any big deal though. Just don't do it when your recording and you'll be fine. Moving on, this pre has tons of (very clean) gain and tons of headroom. The harder you drive it the better it sounds. The filter section works very well and really cuts down on the low frequency rumble. A handy feature to have if you live near a road and don't have a completely sound isolated room to work in! It's also nice to have that low frequency roll off if you don't have a mic with on board roll off.

    The only other criticisms I have is I would have preferred separate XLR and TRS connectors and would have preferred all connections (stay a high Z input on the front) to be on the back of the unit. It's a little bit of a pain to run your cables to the front when everything in your rack hooks up in the rear. However these are all personal preferences and in no way take away from the sound or usability of the unit.

    All in all I would highly recommend this unit to anyone that's looking for a nearly "do all" Swiss army knife mic/line pre that sounds like a hundred grand. It sounds great, it's built like a tank, and won't break the bank! You really get a lot for your money and honestly I can't believe this thing doesn't cost twice what it's selling for. It's a real steal at this price for sure!

    This is a totally fantastic piece of gear that your studio simply can't do without! Thanks Sweetwater.

  • from May 13, 2014Music Background:
    Pro musician

    The best for price

    This mic preamp is in truth the best in its price, great vocal and instruments. Thaks to my sales engineer Alex Morales

  • from Houston, Texas June 26, 2012Music Background:
    Hobbyist / Recording Engineer to my own band

    Hello SSL!

    I got this mainly to use for vocals, but after running some guitar (both clean and hi gain) through it with nothing activated but some sweetness of the variable harmonic drive, I was completely blown away. Talk about some SSL magic! This gear has brought a whole new level to my ITB recording/mixing! Definitely worth every penny - and then some! I just might have to get another one.... :)

  • from Sao Paulo, Brazil June 3, 2012Music Background:
    Professional singer / bass player

    Fantastic strip

    Great channel strip. I use it for vocals in clubs with a Beta SM 58, and it really helps the voice cut through the mix. No matter what console you use (from small 12 channel Mackies to larger digital consoles), the result is great. it is relatively easy to operate, which helps in live performances.
    I have not tried it in the studio yet.

  • from Fort Worth, Tx USA April 3, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer,

    Ultra Clean Pre

    This is an excellent addition to my home setup, beautiful pre amp along with the ssl ad/da conversion. Excellent channel strip.

  • from earth September 18, 2011Music Background:
    Sound art

    Great sounding EQ

    Just added this to the studio a few weeks ago and blown away.

  • from Ocean Springs, MS July 23, 2011

    Better than I hoped

    After reading the reviews here on SW and all the info I could find elsewhere, it seemed that this was really a nice studio pre, but not what I was looking for. I needed a live pre that accepted balanced in, so that I could get the most from my Taylor's Expression System. Plus I use some effects and I needed an unbalanced line into my Voicelive. Every DI is designed to go the other way (unbal « bal), so I had been getting mediocre sound from a high-end instrument. On the recommendation of my rep at SW, I got the Alpha Channel and can honestly say that it is one of the best pieces of gear I have ever purchased. It not only gave me a balanced input, but also has an effects loop. But the best part is that it gives me massive amounts of headroom and amazing EQ control. My Taylors have never sounded better and my rig runs dead quiet now as well. This was definitely some out-of-the-box thinking on the part of my sales rep but in the time I have been working with him, he has shown the best of SW and turned me on to some great gear! I'm not a recording tech, so I can't really comment on the technical end of this unit (the other reviewers have covered much of that), but as a player, I know when something sounds good, and this sounds REALLY good!

  • from Vahon Island October 26, 2008

    Highly Recommended

    I read a lot of mixed reviews on this pre at various forums, so I just decided to take a chance and try it out. I'm glad I bought it! It is really clear and detailed, with an excellent eq and tons of routing versatility. A nice clean preamp that can be dirty if you want it to be. The lite limit function can be very useful on transients without sucking out all the tone. A great utility pre, useful for everything.I even use it for vocals with my Wunder CM7 (not gt) tube mic. It sounds incredible! Acoustic guitars with a vintage C451E, sounds awesome! I just bought a second one today so I can have a stereo pair.

  • from Olympia, WA November 26, 2007Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Stunning Sound

    I own a pair of these as a major part of the audio pathway for mastering. Amazing SSL sound. Has vastly improved the presence and emotional impact of the music I have put thru these. Excellent for mic preamp use too. VERY powerful gain that is clean as a whistle or dial them up and bring in the VHD harmonic distortion component to the initial gain structure. Hi Z inputs make bass guitars and keys sound huge. Vocals are clear and clean and sit very well on top of the mix. The EQs are classic G series EQs with more gain to them than the originals. The limiter is fine if you run very hot signals and is incredibly transparent even if you hit it hard (which I did by mistake recently). But one of the most amazing things to me is the A/D convertor. This is a very, very good A/D convertor that allows you to run up to 24/96 signals thru a SPDIF cable into your DAW. I use some of the very best A/D convertors in my studio and this hangs in there with them. An E series mic pre, a Duality VHD circuit, a G series EQ, a new SSL designed limiter and a A/D convertor for $1,200? The specs are killer (6 Hz to 250 kHz bandwidth) and the sound is pure SSL. No wonder it won the 2007 TEC award for mic pres.

  • from Manila, Philippines May 8, 2007Music Background:
    Session Keyboardist, Arranger, Producer.

    Alpha Channel ROCKS!

    Bought one recently. Blown away. So not long after that, I bought a second one. Not cheap, but not too expensive, and totally worth the money you're paying. Your music is gonna thank you for it.

  • from May 8, 2014Music Background:
    musician, recording engineer, producer et. al.

    Impressive Channel Strip

    With the SSL heritage behind it, I was expecting world class sound from the Alpha Channel and I was not disappointed. This unit not only delivers the SSL sound but it also has several great features which make it a superb, flexible tool for tracking and mixing. If SSL has a bang-for-buck piece of gear, this is it.

    The SUM feature allows you to achieve true parallel processing on a single channel without any related phase issues. The 3-band EQ is the smoothest I have had the pleasure of using. The limiter, when used in analog-mode, can be pushed fairly hard with effective results. And the A/D conversion sounds very nice indeed---it's the icing on the cake.

    If you're looking for a world class front end for your DAW, one that is worth more than its price tag and delivers on its storied heritage, I can't think of a better piece of gear.

  • from Phoenix, AZ March 29, 2010Music Background:
    Audio Engineer/Mixing/Mastering

    Great pre

    I'm giving this pre a 4.5 because I have worked with lots of pres (3 times Alpha's price) and this one is a very-very versatile and consistent workhorse preamp, despite the nonbelievers, and people saying it's not worth this price.

    I have found a perfect combination (for my vocal sound) having SM7B connected to SSL Alpha Channel. Fast/Clean rock, rap, pop vocals.

    SSL Alpha Channel is a VERY FAST preamp, meaning it will pick up transients/nuances of your voice very accurately without smoothing out the peaks such a tube preamp would.

    A GREAT tube preamp will sound more natural, and it will be smoother, but also take into consideration that tube pres have a much slower transient response, so for the fast vocals you might miss attack on some stacatto vocals (a la Bone Thugs, Twista), so great solid state pre such as Alpha Channel may be essential.

    The versatility is the main factor here. VHD knob essentially takes you from dull/neutral/bland sound to warmer 2nd order harmonics as you turn the knob right, and essentially pushing the knob towards 1 o'clock will introduce 3rd order harmonics such as a transistor distortion/tape-like-saturation and much cleaner/sharper/crisp sound.

    With SM7B I tend to keep the VHD knob past 2 o'clock for very clean and fast vocals, and tend to keep VHD in 2nd order harmonic land before 12 o'clock.

    Choices are limitless really. You also get the variable impedance switch, so you can go from 2k ohms to 10k ohms with a press of a button (I use 10k position for cleaner sound on my SM7B).

    Activating EQ into the signal chain by pressing the EQ button changes the sound and what it seems like boosts the mids, high mids, and get everything more present, and tightens the bass.

    EQ section is a very nice part of it, because you can blend the signal how you want and get the tone you need.

    The mic pre is CRYSTAL clean, so turning the gain all the way to the top doesn't produce much noise, very impressive. 75 db of gain will help you feed SM7B's hunger for amplification with ease.

    High Pass filter is also great for cutting mud from the vocals. Pad, Phase reverse, ability to send and return a signal through the insert for compressor/effects processing is also great.

    There is a Lite Limit limiter function built in, that can be activated by the button, which is a brick wall limiter basically, but I leave it off, since when the vocals start clipping, the Lite Limit limiter leaves funky sound artifacts that sound like an obvious clipping to me.

    When the Lite Limit is off, even when you clip the signal, the vocal still sounds quite natural and non offending (sonically speaking).

    Also you can control the output with a separate knob (by Lite Limit button) that is best to use when you see the signal go into clipping, because the gain pot can get "dusty/scratchy" and will introduce a weird noise as you turn the volume down.

    Don't know if it was because I have used the unit for a while, or whether it was like that when I have first bought it.

    The main part of the pre to me is the Analog to Digital converter that is very pristine and very clean sounding on par with stand alone converters above $800. You can use the pre just as a AD converter by going through the insert point (Send/Return) and NOT activating EQ button to keep the signal original, or EQing and adding what's needed before it's all zeros and ones. Just remember you are going to need an interface with a SPDIF in/out, to keep the Alpha Channel synced to your interface (or Alpha being a master clock). Don't forget to get 2 SPDIF cables to have one cable carry 2 signals OUT from SSL Alpha Channel (Pre EQ signal, and Post EQ signal). The second cable will be carrying the sync signal from your interface into IN on your SSL Alpha Channel to keep in synch.

    $1000 is NOT cheap, I'm not going to lie...not to me...but if you really aching for this unit, then you might hit Ebay and find a unit as low as $700 or less if you are lucky.

    Always try before you buy of course, research calmly and make a right decision when it comes to preamps, because you rather buy one great pre that will serve you for years, than having a dozen mediocre ones that will keep you guessing whether you are missing something.

    I'm not saying go out and buy THIS preamp, but what I'm saying is pick the right one for you, because a great pre is like investing into the car. You want the right car for the right purpose.

    You don't need a Ferrari to drag mobile home around, but you not going to be able to drag race with your moms Van either.

  • from Long Beach CA May 3, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer, Musician

    Nice addition to the rack

    The SSL Xlogic is great preamp at an amazing price. Brings voclas to life without adding multiple devices into signal flow, it's clean, crisp, and very quite. If you like the old school sound of the SSL console you will value this channel strip..

  • from Los Angeles, CA December 14, 2010Music Background:

    Two thumbs up!

    This is a great pre with a big, clean, open sound. The eq is very usable, and the soft limiter is very transparent (when you aren't pushing it).

    I've been using this mostly for bass and guitars, but vocals sound really nice as well.

    If you are on a budget and looking for a pre that will sound good on a variety of different sources, this is definitely one to consider.

  • from November 2, 2012Music Background:
    Music Producer, Recording Engineer.

    Great Clean Preamp.

    I must say this is a really nice preamp for the price I would say it is a steal. However the Gain Pot is a bit noise as you go past 12 o'clock it sounds as if there was dust on it. Strangely it seems to go away if you turn up the VHD and then the gain up. Besides that the unit is solid and great sounding a few twists and prerecorded Drums can benefit from real distortion for Drum and Bass and R&B as well as some Pop loops the Insert Button is a big winner. I wish it had the XLR connector in the back of the unit, it is kind of messy to go with a mic cable from your snake in front of your rack.

Questions about the Solid State Logic XLogic Alpha Channel?

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