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Octave Records Deploys SSL SiX for DSD Projects

DSD projects are being recorded at Moose Sound through a new SSL SiX SuperAnalogue desktop console.

Recording engineer and producer Robert Friedrich recording Don Grusin with an SSL SiX.
Recording engineer and producer Robert Friedrich recording Don Grusin with an SSL SiX.

Boulder, CO (May 19, 2020)—Digital audio pioneer Gus Skinas is using an all-analog signal chain that includes SSL’s SiX SuperAnalogue desktop console to record, master and remaster DSD projects at Octave Records, a studio facility and record label partnership with high-fidelity audio equipment company PS Audio.

“Everything I’m doing is all DSD,” says Skinas, a longtime Sony employee who was subsequently instrumental in bringing the manufacturer’s Sonoma DSD (Direct Stream Digital) recording technology to the pro-audio community through his Boulder-based Super Audio Center. Now, for recording, mastering and remastering projects at Octave Records, he says, “We’re always really careful to use the best analog gear we can, because with pure DSD your main processing is analog, and your mixing is analog.”

At his Octave Records studio Skinas has a vintage Studer console. “But I replaced the front end with the SSL because it sounds better than the Studer. The SiX gets the summing of the groups and main buses, and I use it for talkback and all of that. It’s exactly perfect for these high-end DSD recordings,” he says.

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The first release on the new Octave Records label is a solo piano project, Out of Thin Air, by Grammy Award-winning jazz keyboardist Don Grusin, the first project to be recorded at the musician’s new studio, Moose Sound, at his home in Colorado. Recording engineer and producer Robert Friedrich, co-owner of Five/Four Productions (with Michael Bishop and Thomas Moore) recorded the release live to two-track. “It’s just stunning; it sounds wonderful,” says Skinas of the project.

“That little mixer sounded really, really good; I was stunned how good it sounded,” says Friedrich. “It’s a very short signal path and when we ran stuff through it, it was very neutral. It’s also incredibly flexible; we had almost endless possibilities to route inputs and signals.”

For the Out of Thin Air recordings, Friedrich reports, the main piano microphones were Sanken CO-100K condensers with short cable runs to Forssell Technologies SMP-2 preamplifiers. The room pickup was an AEA R88 stereo ribbon microphone paired with an Integer Audio RMP2 preamp. He tracked the project through EMM Labs ADC8 Mk IV converters to a Sonoma recorder at 2.8224 MHz — 64 times the CD audio sampling rate — and at quad rate DSD (11.2896 MHz) into Playback Designs’ Sonoma Recorder software via the company’s Pinot ADC.

“The bandwidth of the console is great. I had all these high-bandwidth mics and mic pres going into it, and the DSD returning into it, using it as a monitor. What I liked about it was that when I flipped between the SSL console and DSD, it sounded pretty close — a lot closer than PCM is. You could be completely confident that you were capturing everything,” says Friedrich.

Solid State Logic •