Waves SSL EV2 Review

Waves SSL EV2 (Quicker Review)

Whipped Cream Sounds

Sound Quality
Features
Ease of Use
User Interface
Presets

Verdict

The Waves SSL EV2 is a stellar emulation of the SSL4000E console channel strip, that has been re-modeled from the ground up. If you’re looking for a channel strip that provides incredible grit, drive and punch, get the SSL EV2.

4.6

Waves just dropped a new plugin (SSL EV2), and you’re wondering whether it’s really worth it or not.

Well luckily for you, we got early access and have put it through a rigorous testing process to help you make a decision.

So by the end of this review, you can make your decision on whether you’re going to get it, or not.

What Is Waves SSL EV2?

waves SSL EV2

The SSL EV2 is a precise emulation of the legendary SSL 4000E channel strip – a channel strip that’s been used on countless tracks throughout decades to give warm, colourful compression and EQ.

With emulations it’s always difficult to be sure of whether they *actually* sound like the original, because of the intricacies of circuitry, but Waves have done an impeccable job, getting full authorisation from Solid State Logic themselves to go ahead with the release of the SSL EV2.

And while you might be thinking: “I have the SSL E isn’t it the same?”

The answer to that question is no.

Like we said above, the circuitry was different between models. And the original SSL 4000E channel strips actually came with different coloured knobs, all providing different flavours of EQ and compression to your audio.

Waves have done an incredible amount of work, creating an entirely new plugin from scratch, re-modelling the sound, design and utility. And, in this edition, they’ve included the ability to choose:

  • The 242 Black Knob EQ
  • The O2 Brown Knob EQ

The difference between the two knobs is quite noticeable, with the black providing a more, dull, drawn back tone, and the brown providing a nice high-end boost.

Brown: 0:00 – 0:06. Black: 0:06 – 0:12. You’ll hear the black is slightly duller that the brown.

Waves have also included a brand new section of the plugin, which allows you to drive the signal of the original SSL console pre-amp, adding subtle saturation to your sound, and giving it that analog vibe that most audio heads crave.

How Does The SSL EV2 Sound?

waves SSL EV2 ableton

The SSL EV2 sounds fantastic. The Brown & Black knob EQ’s have entirely different flavours to them, and are a welcome addition to the unit.

The pre-amp adds a wonderful analog drive to signals, and could be used as a separate bus distortion unit in itself for interesting sound design.

The EV2 is something you’ll want to use when going for a more analog vibe. We wouldn’t recommend it on clean and clinical mixing, because it automatically adds colour just adding it to the channel.

We think it’s better you hear how it sounds for yourself though, so we put a couple examples below.

Sound Examples

Piano

We used this Piano preset on one of our Lo-Fi samples to give it a bit more life, and presence.

Since it was originally mixed for that underwater vibe, the SSL EV2 did a great job at bringing it out and brightening the sound.

Piano with piano preset. Off from 0:00 – 0:06. On between 0:06 – 0:09

Drums

We dialled in some compression, black knob EQ, and mic pre-amp on this breakbeat.

Honestly the SSL EV2 makes it smack hard, creating punchy drums, that hit, but don’t sound overbearing.

On and off throughout.

What’s also to mention here is that the SSL EV2 comes with an incredible array of presets, from world class mixing & mastering engineers, so you have a lot of templates to build your sound from.

And, these presets are absolutely fantastic for adding drive, grit, clarity and colour to your sounds.

Some of the preset makers include grammy award winning engineers like:

  • Jacquire King
  • Joe Barresi
  • Stuart White
  • Dave Pensado
  • Jack Joseph Puig
  • Tony Maserati
  • Tom Lord-Alge
  • Lu Diaz
  • Rich Costey
  • & more!

Waves SSL EV2 Features

The SSL EV2 comes with a lot of knobs to play around with (not those kind), so it can be a bit overwhelming to open at first. So, let’s go over each part of the plugin and break down what it does.

Pre-Amp & Line-Input

waves SSL EV2 pre-amp

This has hands down gotta be my favourite part of the plugin, and it’s a newly introduced feature!

This is where you can change how much mic pre-amp you’d like on your signal, emulating the original SSL console’s pre-amp sound.

Using this knob you can add drive to the signal, which adds saturation.

And… wow it sounds really, really good.

If you drive this knob all the way, you’re not going to be hearing nice things, but if you keep it at around 10-20, it adds a perfect, subtle distortion that is sometimes all you need to bring out a vocal part, drum section or piano.

It’s great to use directly on the channel, but is sometimes even better when used on a bus, or in an audio effect rack.

If you want your drums to smack a little more, putting this on a parallel processing chain will do wonders, and we haven’t even got to any of the other features yet.

On this section you also have a line-input, which controls the input volume, and an analog button that doesn’t add the annoying white noise it used to!

I’m not sure I can actually hear what it’s doing here, but it sounds to me like it’s slightly adding colour to the signal.

There’s also a handy -20db pad button, which is useful for quickly turning down the input volume, and on top of that you have a phase button so you can check for out of phase samples.

There is also a DYN TO section, which flips the signal chain around from:

  • Pre-amp -> Compression
  • Compression -> Pre-amp

Compression & Expansion

waves SSL EV2 compressor

Below the mic pre-amp section, you have a compression unit, which models the original SSL console’s compressor, and is fondly known for it’s grit & dirt.

It’s a simple compression unit at first glance, but is modelled on the original VCA circuitry, and this is what gives it it’s charm.

Like all compressors you have control over:

  • Ratio
  • Threshold
  • Release

There’s no attack control on the SSL EV2, apart from the F.ATK, which will allow you to change the attack time to… you guess it a fast attack time of 1ms.

On top of that, there isn’t an option to control make-up gain, following in the originals footsteps, including an auto-gain that increases as your threshold does.

SSL EV2 expander

With the SSL EV2 you’ll also get the same expander and gate options you have in the original SSL E.

On this you have controls for:

  • Threshold
  • Range
  • Release

Filter

waves SSL EV2 filters

Below all of this, you get a high pass and low pass filter. These can be used to remove any unwanted highs or low-end rumble in your recordings. It’s especially good for room drum recordings, vocals, kicks etc to remove those frequencies that will clash.

There’s also a split button which moves your filter in the processing chain, before everything (which is preferred in our sessions).

The EQ Section

SSL EV2 EQ module

Over to the middle of the plugin, you have a huge EQ section, which has some similarity between the SSL E, but has been modified slightly to improve it a hell of a lot.

This is where you’ll find the new Brown Knob and Black Knob feature, that allows you to change between the different SSL units that were shipped.

These two EQ tones are a game changer, and they each add their own vibe and colour to samples.

Although it may not look like much, it alters the sound drastically, giving you multiple options for different scenarios.

  • The Brown Knob tends to fair better if you’re going for a high, crisp sound.
  • The Black Knob is better for a warmer sounding result (sound example below)

There’s also a new volume icon, which allows you to solo the EQ bands you’re clicking, giving more precision when finding unwanted frequencies or areas to boost.

The rest of the EQ module is pretty self-explanatory, including control for:

  • Highs
  • High mids
  • Low mids
  • Lows

Metering

To the right of the plugin you’ll find a metering section, with output control, and some extra options.

Most of this is pretty standard, and you’re going to be using this to check if things are clipping, and making sure to turn them down.

What is interesting though, is we found that when in the red, the EV2 doesn’t sound at all bad – the adding grit is actually nice in some instances.

You also have an in & out meter which is handy when you want to check your input levels instead of the automatically output levels.

Something really cool about the SSL EV2 (that’s new from the original SSL E), is the “extra wide” button. Clicking this… makes everything extra wide, as you’d probably have guessed.

This almost makes things a bit too wide, and that’s where the

  • STNDRD
  • MONO
  • REV

Knob comes in.

You can use this to control the stereo field of your sample, and also check in mono, plus reverse the channels. However, if you push the knob between the STNDRD & MONO settings, you can alter the current stereo image of your track.

It’s extremely useful to use with the extra wide knob, because it really pushes your sound out, and you can use this to dial it back in.

User Interface

The SSL EV2 is really, really pretty to look at, and will most likely make a lot of sense if you’ve ever used an SSL console channel strip. Everything is laid out in pretty much an identical format too, so it’s easy to know what each section does.

However, if you’re not used to analog gear, or channel strips it might become a bit overwhelming to you.

With newer digital plugins, interface has become a huge selling factor, and a lot of them are so simple to navigate and use, when confronted with an older layout, newer producers can get a bit confused.

This is easily solved by spending a couple minutes taking a look through the manual or just simply playing around with different knobs to see what they do, but it’s something we wanted to mention.

It’s a great interface, and makes a lot of sense when you understand it. You just might have to take some time to understand it.

In our instant gratification world, that’s not always desirable these days.

Verdict

Waves SSL EV2 (Quicker Review)

Whipped Cream Sounds

Sound Quality
Features
Ease of Use
User Interface
Presets

Verdict

The Waves SSL EV2 is a stellar emulation of the SSL4000E console channel strip, that has been re-modeled from the ground up. If you’re looking for a channel strip that provides incredible grit, drive and punch, get the SSL EV2.

4.6

Waves have done a stellar job with this re-creation of the SSL EV2, and it sounds nothing short of phenomenal. The mic pre-amp addition is just beautiful and can add that drive/grit you need in your recordings, and the inclusion of the Brown & Black EQ knobs is a welcome addition.

You can pretty much use it in any scenario, but it’s best used for things that need extra slap, punch and drive.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this channel strip to anyone looking for an analog, driven sound – it’s great!