As a seven-time Grammy winner who has worked in top commercial facilities with the likes of Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Metallica and more recently the late Chick Corea, Brian Vibberts now does the vast majority of work out of his personal hybrid studio just outside LA.
Over the course of his journey, Vibberts became intimately familiar with several classic SSL consoles, including the 4000, 6000, 8000 and 9000 series desks. This hands-on experience and production knowledge acquired over the decades has informed his perspective when it comes to identifying the building blocks necessary for his own hybrid studio, with his most recent toolkit additions including an SSL UC1 plugin controller along with several SSL Native plugins.
“I’ve used a lot of different consoles throughout my career,” says Vibberts. “I’ve been working on SSL’s since 1991, and have worked with the SSL 4000, the 6000, the 8000 and the 9000 series and Duality consoles. With the UC1, that muscle memory of using the real large format consoles was all there, and easily tied into using the controller. It was like, ‘Oh, OK, it’s just like on the console’.”
He notes that he acquired the UC1 because of its functionality as well as positive feedback he was hearing from friends and peers. “The knobs don’t feel cheap and the controls are laid out in an intuitive fashion,” he adds. “For instance, when I am using a large console, I can just feel my way around the buttons and don’t have to think about it too much. Similarly, with the UC1, I already know where the buttons are.
“Having the ability to flip through the channels using the rotary knob makes it really easy when I am working on a larger session,” he continues. “I can easily navigate through tracks by looking at the hi-res display if something needs to be changed. The display is awesome, and I can clearly read ‘Kick In’, Guitar 3, or whatever the track is listed as.”
Vibberts is consistently drawn to the SSL Native Channel Strip 2 and Bus Compressor 2 plugins, both of which are included with the UC1: “The UC1 is great because I am mostly using the Channel Strip 2 Plug-in, particularly on things like drums, percussion, keyboards, and sometimes the vocal. It has everything I need: the EQ, the dynamics, and the built-in buss compressor in the middle of the controller.”
He also frequently uses other SSL Native plugins, including the X-EQ 2, which allows him to dial in and get “surgical” with specific frequencies, as well as the X-Saturator, which he uses primarily on keyboards and bass to help them instruments pop out in the mix. Another tools is the SSL Drumstrip: “After trying the plugin demos for about a day, I decided I had to have these, and I’ve been using them in every mix ever since. The SSL plug-ins are just outstanding and far superior than the other emulations out there, and just have this nice open sound.”
Vibberts says that SSL’s decades-long experience in designings recording consoles imparts a certain authenticity that can’t be imitated: “That’s where having it really be specific to what I already know with SSL plug-ins is a huge advantage,” he concludes. “Since SSL designed the actual consoles, they can design plug-ins and a control surface so much better. I am now using more SSL Native plug-ins because they are so easy to use and I get a great sound.”