Hey all;

I picked up an SSL X-Logic Alpha Channel and, for the sake of reference, did a shootout between it and two other preamps in the approx $1000/channel (MSRP) range. I put it up against the Universal Audio "TwinFinity" 710 (in both solid state and tube modes) and the Daking Mic-Pre One. (MP1)

It is not a perfect shoot-out, as I recorded different performances for each instance. I tried to keep the performances (and mic position, etc.) as close as possible. One could validly argue that many of the differences they might hear are due to these factors.

Here is a link to the files. shared google drive folder

There are three files - all recorded and exported in mono. There is no processing done to any of the tracks, except adjusting the levels relative to each other such that they are all within 0.1db of all the others.

All three files have excerpts in the exact same order:
1. Daking MP1
2. UA710 (full tube mode)
3. UA710 (full solid state mode)
4. SSL Alpha Channel (No EQ, no limiting - just straight and flat)

1. Vocal - Three lines of "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet. Each segment for each mic pre is about ten seconds in the order listed above. Mic = Rode K2.

2. Bass - A 15 second segment of a bassline from an original song I wrote years ago. Each segment is recorded by plugging the bass directly into the hi-z input on the preamp and arranged in the order listed above.

3. Acoustic Guitar - A ten-second segment of "When the Children Cry" by White Lion. A Norman B20 acoustic guitar miked up with a single Studio Projects C4 with the cardiod capsule pointed at the 12th fret. Segments in the same order as listed above.


In all cases, the SSL was the most transparent. Aside from that, they all sounded remarkably similar.

SSL - most transparent
UA710 (full tube) - most robust sounding

SSL - most transparent, also the biggest sounding
UA710 (full tube) - seemed to add a bit of weight to the mids

Ac Gtr:
SSL - most transparent
Daking - most body - somewhat coloured in mids
710 (solid state) - next to the SSL, the most "honest" sounding.

Overall, the differences were very subtle and subjective. Though the SSL was the most transparent, the differences in tone/colour/etc were very, very subtle. I found it very difficult to characterize any of them as being that much different from the others.

A few additional notes about the SSL:
The EQ is very, very nice. I've never even considered tracking with EQ before, but with this in play, I would have no hesitation. The "lite limiting" is great for controlling performances that would be very dynamic. It's pretty transparent until you really whack it hard, at which point, it can break up pretty noticeably. I've not had much of a chance to muck with the "variable harmonic drive" yet, as I recorded these tracks without driving the input stage any more than one would to get a nice clean recording with a low noise floor. (the noise in the bass track is the bass....)

The SPDIF out is a nice feature. It gives me an extra input to my interface. It also sends two different signals out. SPDIF, being two channel, does the following:
SPDIF left - includes any processing that might be present - any EQ, the lite limiting, etc.
SPDIF right - is the clean, unaffected signal - straight in, straight out.

This means you can record both and if that EQ didn't sound as good as you thought it might, you still have the version with everything bypassed.

I'd be interested in what anyone else hears.

Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.