Two years after its release, SSL is sharing a secret about its Fusion stereo master processor. Apparently, there was a hidden sixth analog ‘color’ in the rack unit all along! And this happens to be the Listen Mic Compressor (LMC) mode, a homage to an SSL console module with lots of audio history behind it.
LMC mode in SSL Fusion
First, here’s a quick brush-up on the SSL Fusion’s functionality. Up ’till now, the unit had five known modes of operation, and these are: Vintage Drive (saturation and compression), Violet EQ (2-band shelving equalizer), HFC Compressor (frequency selective compressor for the high-frequency range), Stereo Image (an analog M / S matrix), and the SSL Transformer. As of now, Fusion is a six-mode unit: the LMC Mode was there all along, not forgotten but seemingly never to be discovered…
LMC stands for Listen Mic Compressor and the unit’s most famous appearance is in the big ol’ banger that is “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. During mixdown, Phil heard his drums through the compressor as patched into the signal path of the SSL 4K’s reverse talkback channel. The LMC’s snappy fixed attack and release times created a particularly loud sound that he really wanted to use. However, the SSL 4K console had to be modified for this. Of course, the Oxford engineers caught on not long after, and the LMC became a secret studio weapon!
How to engage LMC mode
This trick works on all Fusion units out of the box, no updates or servicing necessary. All you have to do is press and hold the HMC Compressor IN button for five seconds. This enters ‘Full-band LMC Mode’, turning the X-OVER knob into a Wet/Dry blend control. Simply blend the compressed signal to taste.
That’s pretty cool and all, but hey, what gives?! Well, either SSL engineers sort of forgot to tell us about this option, or maybe the surprise was really planned from the start! According to Andy Jackson, Studio Product Manager at SSL, they experimented quite a bit and decided to keep an alternative mode for the HFC Compressor, which is itself based on the Listen Mic Compressor circuit. Two years on, they decided to reveal it as an example of how SSL’s devices tend to give back over time.
You can read more about the SSL Fusion here, and purchase the unit from our partner Thomann (affiliate link). You will have to lay down a few euros on the table, as Fusion’s current price is EUR 2066. Personally, I think that’s chump change for a modern analog processor branded with those coveted three letters. But this decision is entirely up to you.