Dutch musician, composer and producer Colin Benders has touring down to a fine art, packing his live modular synthesizer rig into just two cases and hopping on a plane to jet off to venues across Europe and around the world. Lately, that live setup has also included Solid State Logic’s new BiG SiX SuperAnalogue™- mixing + USB interface.

Benders is no stranger to SSL consoles. “I got my first SSL desk about 10 years ago, a 9000 Series. I’d been using SSL desks before that in a couple of mixing rooms, and I fell in love with that sound,” he says. When SSL introduced the SiX, Benders thought it would work for his live shows, but he needed more input channels. Then SSL released the BiG SiX. “It’s a perfect match. I’m so happy with it,” he says.

BiG SiX: absolutely perfect

“I’d been looking for a good portable mixer that I could take with me on the road. I’ve had some experience with bringing mixers with me, but it always felt like there was a tradeoff between either size or sound quality. And I just got sick of everything sounding a little bit thin or tinny. But the BiG SiX is absolutely perfect,” he says.

“I have the four mono channels for my kick, snare, high-hat, and main bassline,” he elaborates, which are generated out of his Eurorack synth system. “Then the four stereo channels are perfect for all the other tracks and effects that I’m sending out of my modular rig.”

Although Benders creates most of his effects in his synth setup, the BiG SiX comes in handy when he needs to interface with outboard processors, he continues. “Then I use the BiG SiX as a bridge. It gives me a lot better gain control, especially since there’s a big level differences between the Eurorack and normal line level. So I need to boost stuff up or bring it down.”

He has occasionally used the console’s inserts to put a processor across the master output buss. “I have a Stimming Instant Mastering Chain box that I take with me every now and then, which has a very nice EQ and drive. But I’ve noticed that I’ve started taking that along with me less and less because the G-Comp Buss Compressor on the BiG SiX is more than enough most of the time. I can just crank that, and it gives me everything I need.”

Quick set up, set and forget

Often, Benders is on the bill between other electronic music artists or a couple of DJs, which means he must be able to set up fast. Once he’s performing — he sometimes plays hours-long sessions or even through the night — he needs to be laser-focused on the music and not worry about the technology. “The BiG SiX is very comfortable, just a set-and-forget part of the rig. That’s essential for me, because if I get too distracted with what’s happening outside of the modular, then I’m not looking at the modular. If I’m not looking at the modular, I’m not changing things. There are so many modules in that rack all doing something that I have to make snap decisions. And if I have to spend 20 seconds diving into a mixing console menu for that perfect setting, that’s 20 seconds that I’m not playing anything else.”

A long legacy of SSL

Benders’ history as an SSL console owner began when a local studio went out of business and he moved the 9048 J Series desk into his Kytopia facility in Utrecht. The studio will be familiar to anyone who has seen any video of Snarky Puppy’s 2014 live performance recordings from We Like It Here. “That entire album was recorded in my studio,” he says.

Back then, Benders, who started as a choir singer then took up trumpet when he was a teenager, was leading and conducting the Kyteman Orchestra, 18 musicians, singers and rappers playing an amalgam of hip-hop, jazz and other genres. Kytopia was the band’s main rehearsal and recording space. When Benders relocated the studio, he took the SSL 9000 with him. But as he began to concentrate on electronic music and build out his massive modular synth the console became too much, he says: “It was just too big and too power hungry for what I was doing at the time.”

One of Benders’ favorite clubs to play is the legendary Berghain in Berlin. “The first time I played there, I brought this small, digital box with recall functions and everything with me. The first thing the sound tech said to me was, ‘You’re not bringing that in here, are you?’ He made me swap it out to whatever they had lying in the back. But next time I came back with the BiG SiX and for two hours we were just geeking out over how it sounded on the system, just trying different settings. I remember his face lighting up when I came back that second time with something that he approved of. So it was a very noticeable upgrade.”

SSL BiG SiX and more at Superbooth, Berlin

Solid State Logic is exhibiting at Superbooth with our German partners Audio Pro, at FEZ-Berlin between 16-18th May 2024. Stop by booth 0155 and experience the latest production tools for electronic music production and live performance, including BiG SiX, THE BUS+, Fusion, the full range of SSL controllers and much more.

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