A little over 15 years ago, The Royal College of Music (Kungl. Musikhögskolan or KMH) in Stockholm launched a project to build a new campus to support the school’s performance, composition, conducting and music and media production programs. In addition to new concert halls, practice rooms and teaching facilities, KMH’s campus includes a suite of three recording and production spaces, one of which houses a Solid State Logic ORIGIN 32-channel analogue mixing console.

The SSL ORIGIN room is the only control room of the three music production environments to feature a mixing console, with the other two featuring DAW and outboard hardware setups. The control room featuring the ORIGIN is used exclusively by students pursuing three-year bachelor’s and two-year master’s degrees in music production for their personal projects. The studio also offers a live tracking space housing a grand piano, drum kit and instrument amplifiers and is large enough to accommodate a rhythm section. Walters-Storyk Design Group designed all three music studios on the new campus at the college, which traces its roots back to 1771.

From the 18th Century to ORIGIN

“Students can book this room whenever they want as long as there is no teaching going on,” explains Jan-Olof Gullö, Professor, Music and Media Production. “Most students have worked with audio interfaces, but to understand signal flow it is always great to get them on a real mixing console. ORIGIN is great for this because everything is clearly laid out. The students are recording everything on the ORIGIN: classical music, pop music, electronic, rock. It responds well to all these genres. It’s a great tool and perfect for recording a lot of tracks — and it sounds great.”

He continues, “What I like about this mixer is that what you put into it you get out of it. It doesn’t color the sound. The PureDrive preamps on ORIGIN are very clean when the Drive is not engaged. We did tests and the noise floor is very quiet. Also, it is efficient, power-wise. Older consoles need cooling systems, and they take a lot of energy. We like the sleep mode on ORIGIN, which also conserves energy, so you don’t have to power up and power down all the time.”

KMH: Building on an SSL legacy

Over the course of two decades at KMH, first as a student then as a staff studio engineer, Erik Metall had the opportunity to work on the SSL 4000G+ and SSL Duality desks previously installed at the school. He appreciates the legacy sound character and functionality that SSL has purposely designed into the new ORIGIN. “The preamps are as you would expect — it sounds like an SSL and they work very well. Also, the EQ works exactly as you would like to hear from an SSL desk,” comments Metall, who is also a freelance engineer and a working musician. “I love the architecture, with the small faders. That is a return to the 4000 Series structure that I really love.”

Students are largely self-taught through hands-on operation of the ORIGIN, Metall adds: “Students get a basic course on how the ORIGIN desk works and how everything is set up. Then they explore things pretty much on their own.”

Accelerating learning with ORIGIN

Since it was installed, ORIGIN has been very successful as a teaching tool, Prof. Gullö also comments: “It has been very easy for the students to learn on. The great thing with this mixer is that it allows students to learn it quite fast.”

KMH has about 600 to 700 students, out of which 70 are studying in music production programs. Every year, around 300 people apply for these programs, but only 16 are accepted for the bachelor’s program and 10 for the master’s program, according to Prof. Gullö. While most of the students are from Sweden, there are also students from Scandinavia and other countries.

Having worked extensively on the previous SSL consoles at the school, Henrik Langemyr, who graduated from KMH’s Music and Media program in 2022, agrees that ORIGIN is easy to operate and, like Metall, appreciates ORIGIN’s lineage. Langemyr, who now works at KMH as a support engineer and on freelance projects, says. “I used the SSL ORIGIN constantly. It was simple and easy to understand. First and foremost, it works and sounds great. I came from working on an SSL 4k console before, and we also used a Duality. I really like the ORIGIN desk because it is easy to use, and you get the results you want. From my work, I can absolutely tell the SSL sound. It’s a great console for these students to learn on because of its easy to understand layout.”

The music production rooms also make use of SSL’s 2+ USB audio interface. “The SSL 2+ is the best product ever made,” Prof. Gullö states. “You plug it in — you don’t need any extra power — and it just works. And it sounds fantastic. I think the preamps are brilliant and have 62 dB of gain, so you can use a Shure SM7B microphone without an external preamp or Cloudlifter.”

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