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FOH Engineer Ian Zorbaugh Returns To The Road With SSL Live And V4.11 Update

Cites new Blitzer compressor, FFT analyzer capabilities, TeamViewer remote access and more as enhancing and streamlining his workflow.
Ian Zorbaugh and the SSL Live console are back on the road with Old Dominion.

Mix engineer Ian Zorbaugh, who started taking Solid State Logic’s Live mixing console on tour with five-piece country band Old Dominion at the beginning of 2018, recently returned to the road with the band, post-pandemic, and notes that the recently issued V4.11 software update has enhanced and streamlined his workflow.

V4.11 introduced new and improved audio sculpting and manipulation tools, expanded FFT analyzer functionality and a number of operational enhancements. “I like to take advantage of as many of the new features as I can,” says Zorbaugh. “The coolest feature that I’ve been using a lot in the new release is the Blitzer compressor.”

The Blitzer algorithm provides users with a range of compression options that range from adding character without affecting dynamic range at one end of the scale to offering full-on “blitz” modes for slamming effects at the other extreme. “It’s got some cool saturation and ‘smash’ modes,” he notes. “I’ve got that on my vocal bus currently, doing parallel compression, and it’s been awesome. It’s great for any bus that you want a compression effect on, whether it’s super-clean transparent or a Distressor-style, crunched-up, dirty sound.”

Zorbaugh had previously employed SSL G Bus compressor but switched when Blitzer was introduced. However, new additions to the G Bus compressor, including an animated analog-style gain reduction meter, means that it still has a place in his processing approach: “SSL added a high-pass filter in the sidechain, which is awesome. I feel like every software compressor should have that; it makes it so much more versatile.

In addition, Zorbaugh has been road-testing the primary source isolator, designed to eliminate feedback and bleed from open microphones through the new Sourcerer interface. While he currently has outboard units serving that function, he explains, “At some point I will probably look at transitioning my hardware into the software, just for the sake of having it in the box. The more that you can keep in the console the better. It’s one less thing to fail, and is useful for fly dates,” where the hardware may not be available.

In V4.10, introduced at the start of 2020, SSL added the ability to insert an FFT analyzer on the channel path EQ. Version 4.11 software enhances that capability, enabling the user to add an analyzer in the Effects Rack on any 6- or 10-band parametric EQ. “I typically have my solo bus running out to a Smaart setup. If I want to ring mics out or there’s something weird going on, I can check each individual channel without having to put headphones on. But it’s great to now have it in the Effects Rack,” Zorbaugh says.

“I have some Effects Rack EQs set up for some downstage mic positions, so I can use the channel EQ to get the tonality, then use a 10-band parametric EQ to ring stuff out. Having the FFT built in is cool; you can just notch it where you see it, rather than sending it out to the external Smaart unit. It has made it seamless between the channel EQ and the Effects Rack.”

The V4.11 update also adds support for TeamViewer remote access and remote control computer software. While Zorbaugh has not had occasion to use TeamViewer on the road, the new capability certainly came in handy during the AES Nashville Spring Training Exhibition in late March. Live sound veteran and SSL Live product specialist Fernando Guzman was unable to travel, so Zorbaugh represented the company in his place. “Fernando was at his studio in Denver and was able to remote-in using TeamViewer and show people features on the console,” Zorbaugh says.

SSL Live’s TeamViewer support presents a number of opportunities, he continues. “SSL is able to support its gear without having to send somebody to the site, especially for installations,” he says. Plus, during the pandemic, remote mixing became a necessity for some, and may become even more commonplace going forward. There are obvious cost savings, Zorbaugh points out. “You don’t have to fly someone to some expensive city. They can stay at home or go to a remote location and mix.”

SSL Live’s ability to selectively store and recall portions of a preset using filters has further enhanced Zorbaugh’s workflow “Sometimes, when we do an A rig and a B rig show and we have different guitars for one or the other, I’ll save a preset for one instrument versus the other.” But he may not need the entire processing chain when copying it across. “I can recall just the EQ from the B package guitar preset if we’re using it in the A package.”

As a result, he says, “I can keep one show file and just change a couple of the little pieces without having to go through and remember to save a specific dynamic preset for the channel. You can save the whole channel then selectively recall the bits and pieces you need.”

Also speeding up the work process, Zorbaugh notes, is the new ability to connect the tablet app to SOLSA, SSL’s offline editor software for the Live series. “You can use an iPad as a control tile and put SOLSA on the main screen. If I need to program a file, it’s super-fast to select and edit stuff on the iPad screen and do your general overview on SOLSA and jump back and forth, rather than jumping around between menus, without having the physical buttons of the console. You can work significantly faster.”

Version 4.11 also introduces OSC control of external third-party devices, such as loudspeaker processing, and, for the first time, direct control over L-Acoustics L-ISA. The update enables control from the SSL Live console of the L-ISA immersive speaker system. L-ISA sources can be associated with mono or stereo console channels or stems, with full control of L-ISA pan, distance, width, elevation. Aux send levels for each source may also be controlled. L-ISA master control is accessible from the console via an OSC path assignment on the console surface.

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