Earlier this week, Mixonline covered the launch of SSL’s The Bus+, a new, deluxe version of the company’s iconic hardware bus compressor. Because it’s such an important new processor, we’re going to dive deeper into its feature set and see why it’s generating a lot of (figurative) buzz.
SSL says it’s “been on a mission to create the ultimate and most versatile incarnation of the Bus Compressor ever.” Based on the description and specs of the Bus+, it appears they’ve succeeded. While maintaining the circuitry and controls that have made previous versions of the product so influential, popular and often imitated, The Bus+ adds modern features and more control than previous models.
For example, although the signal path is all analog, the Bus+’s knobs are digitally controlled. Each knob is stepped, and a micro-controller monitors its position. According to SSL, this makes for easier recall and better precision, as the knobs are not subject to pot tolerances.
Another new feature is D-EQ, an analog dynamic equalizer with low and high-frequency bands and compression and expansion modes for each channel. When configuring its range and frequency, the unit’s gain reduction meters switch to display those parameters. You can also toggle the EQ between pre and post-compressor in the signal chain.
Unlike its predecessors, Bus+ offers four different working modes, giving the unit the flexibility customarily found only on plug-in emulations. In Classic Stereo mode, you get control over both channels from one set of knobs. The Σ S/C Stereo (Sigma Sidechain mode) works the same as Classic Stereo, except it sums the sidechain channels. Dual Mono mode allows you to control each channel independently. Finally, Mid-Side mode lets you separately adjust the center and side channels.
SSL also added additional ratios and release times. For the former, new settings include ratios of 1.3:1 and 1.5:1 for mastering and -2.5:1, -1.5:1 and -0.5:1 for dialing in creative pumping effects. The unit offers a total of 11 release time options, which is almost double what its offered in previous hardware bus compressors such as the X-Logic Bus Compressor, X-Rack and G-Comp 500 Series Bus Compressor module. Among the new release time options are a second auto-release (Auto 2) and a super-fast 0.5s setting.
The unit offers three selectable sonic modes: LOW THD offers a clean-sounding low end. F/B provides what SSL terms “a more ‘relaxed style of compression.” The third choice, 4K MODE, lets you dial in variable harmonic distortion.
Parallel compression is available at the turn of a knob, thanks to the included Mix control. The Bus+ offers the flexibility of external sidechain inputs and sends. All I/O is on XLR balanced connectors, and the unit gets power through a standard IEC cable.
The Bus+ is available now and sells for $2,899. Find out more on the SSL website.