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SSL Nucleus Advanced DAW Controller

Professional Control Surface - The 'hub' for a digital studio

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The SSL Nucleus is an all encompassing DAW controller with professional studio use in mind. The Nucleus covers all common recording and mixing functions within its user-friendly interface giving you the tactile feel often associated with an analogue studio, but with all the benefits of a digital system that are essential to so many modern audio engineering workflows. The Nucleus is ideal for music and film/tv engineers and composers.

Working over common protocols (Mackie Control or HUI) the SSL Nucleus is compatible with all major DAW programs on Mac and PC. The Nucleus connects over your computer's ethernet port and also acts as a simple, high quality audio interface.

Here's what SSL say about the Nucleus

Nucleus re-defines the professional project studio with a perfect blend of advanced DAW control, transparent SuperAnalogue monitoring, high class analogue mic pres, pro quality USB audio interface and bundled SSL Duende Native plug-ins. There is no other product available which offers the professional producer/engineer all these elements, with benchmark audio performance and elegant ergonomics. Not only is it unique but Nucleus is also outstanding value; these elements bought separately would cost more and deliver a less elegant solution.

Nucleus is a compact, portable desktop unit that creates a comfortable, efficient, hands on operating environment for DAW based Music and Film/TV Post production. It provides everything you need to record and monitor audio and to control your DAW quickly and efficiently without resorting to your mouse. Nucleus streamlines your workflow and helps you focus on your sound, not your screen.

Nucleus' DAW Control is based on the concepts developed for the SSL Matrix. Up to 3 different DAWs can be connected simultaneously and you can switch between them with a single button push. Nucleus uses either HUI or MCU protocols ensuring compatibility with all leading DAW applications including Pro Tools, Logic and Cubase/Nuendo and can transmit MIDI CC data. Nucleus provides a complete set of dedicated and assignable hardware controls that is easily customised to suit individual user preferences, for all major DAW and plug-in parameters. Two banks of eight channels each provide; 100mm motorised Faders, fully user definable soft keys and V-Pots, dedicated Select/Solo/Cut buttons and 10 point channel level meters. The Nucleus centre section DAW controls provide; large heavy duty transport buttons, a high quality jog/shuttle wheel, bank/channel/ layer selection & navigation/global DAW parameter selection and additional USB keyboard emulation buttons. Bright LCD Digital Scribble Strips, DAW audio level meters, self illuminating buttons and LED status indicators ensure excellent visual feedback even in low light conditions. System configuration is via a remote "SSL Logictivity" browser, which allows differing control profile sets to be stored and recalled. It is here that the user defines exactly how the Nucleus behaves.

Nucleus offers a unique combination of audio capabilities. At its foundation is a SSL SuperAnalogue signal path providing benchmark audio quality monitor output to separate +4dBu & -10dBV connections. A high quality 2+2 Ch USB audio interface provides a record and playback path for your DAW. Two Combi XLR mic/line/instrument level inputs can feed the audio interface and the monitor outputs simultaneously. Digital I/O via S/PDIF feeds the AD/DA of the audio interface (pre insert) enabling both a 'digital to DAW' record path and a 'mic/line/instrument to digital' output path. The Digital input can use Ch 3&4 of the audio interface so can be recorded to separate channels in your DAW in parallel to the incoming analogue mic/line/instrument inputs. A wet/dry control enables balancing of analogue (and digital) input and DAW playback for zero latency record monitoring. The Nucleus mic pre's are SSL SuperAnalogue Mic Pre's, identical to those used on SSL Duality and AWS consoles and our X-Rack system… giving Nucleus a professional standard transparent mic record path. The mic inputs have 80Hz High Pass Filters, Phase Reverse and Phantom Power. A pair of insert send/return connections for incorporation of processing or effects default to the mic/line/instrument inputs but can be moved across to DAW playback for mixdown. An additional 'external' stereo analogue input provides a transparent SuperAnalogue monitor path for another audio interface, or any other analogue device. There is an accurate analogue output level meter. A stereo minijack connection makes monitoring from an iPod or any other portable audio device straightforward. Two headphone outputs complete the monitoring options.

Nucleus connects to your computer via high speed Ethernet for DAW control. It also features a USB connection and appears to your host computer as a standard keyboard enabling key command emulation. There are four USB ports on the back which operate as a USB hub. A standard jack footswitch connection is also included and there is also an SD card slot for Profile storage. Configuration and mapping of Key commands and DAW Commands is via a remote "SSL Logicitivity" browser, which allows differing control profile sets to be stored and recalled.

We could have stopped there but because we can, we chose to endow Nucleus with one final killer feature; it includes the Duende Native Essentials Bundle. This includes the new Duende Native versions of the SSL Channel EQ & Dynamics and Stereo Bus Compressor VST/AU/RTAS plug-ins. The EQ & Dynamics Channel is the classic SSL Console Channel Strip with 4 band parametric EQ, Compressor/Expander/Gate, High Pass and Low Pass filters. The Duende Native Bus Compressor is the sound of the classic SSL Stereo Bus Compressor from the 1980's G Series analogue console delivered in plug-in form.

Key Features

  • Ethernet connected DAW Controller re-defines the professional project studio
  • Compatible with ProTools, Logic, Cubase/Nuendo and all major DAW applications
  • Switch between 3 connected DAW's with a single button press
  • Two banks of 8 channel controls plus centre section controls
  • Touch sensitive 100mm motorised faders
  • Digital Scribble Strips with assignable V-Pots and soft keys
  • Completely user customisable DAW & Key Command mapping
  • Remote Logictivity Browser for effortless configuration
  • SD card for non volatile project storage
  • Large heavy duty transport buttons and high quality jog/shuttle wheel
  • Excellent visual feedback via self illuminating buttons, LED's and DAW Level Metering
  • A unique audio nerve centre for your project studio
  • Benchmark SuperAnalogue quality output to separate +4dBu & -10dBV connections
  • High quality USB audio interface stereo record and playback path for your DAW
  • Two Combi XLR mic/line/instrument level inputs to audio interface and monitor outputs
  • Digital S/PDIF I/O to the AD/DA of the audio interface
  • Zero latency Rec monitoring with wet/dry control to balance input and DAW playback
  • SSL SuperAnalogue Mic Pre's', identical to those used on SSL Duality and AWS consoles
  • Mic inputs have 80Hz High Pass Filters, Phase Reverse and Phantom Power
  • Insert send/return connections switched between inputs and DAW playback for mixdown
  • Additional 'external' SuperAnalogue input monitor path for another audio interface
  • Two headphone outputs and one iJack monitor input
  • Standard 1/4" Jack footswitch connection
  • Four USB sockets for use as a 4 port USB hub

    Anonymous review via Feefo | Purchase date: 28 November 2015

    This is a *very* expensive bit of kit, so I have to admit I had a few doubts about my purchase immediately after placing the order... but when it arrived, I was blown away by the design and sheer quality of the thing. This is real, professional kit: everything just works, properly, and all the controls feel like they will last a lifetime.

    I'm using it with Cubase 8 Pro. The setup is a little fiddly (by which I mean there's quite a few different bits of software to install and configure and then several things to set up in Cubase), but once done everything works exactly as you'd hope it would. The motorised faders are awesome, and the chunky transport controls and jog/scrub wheel will transform the way you work.

    The built-in SSL preamps (which are apparently the same ones used in the high-end SSL studio consoles) sound fantastic, to the point where I've unplugged my RME Babyface (which was previously the best-sounding thing I've ever owned when it came to preamps) in favour of recording straight into the Nucleus. There are only two preamp channels, but for a solo recordist like me who just lays tracks down one mono or stereo track at a time, it's ideal and gets rid of a load of extra cables.

    If you don't already have a good basic studio setup, then for the price of a Nucleus you could get a pair of excellent monitor speakers, a few of good mics and some acoustic treatment, and your money would have gone a lot further in terms of improving the overall sound of your studio.

    If you do already have those things, then this is the bit of kit that finally makes it all feel like a *proper recording studio*, as opposed to a computer with a load of different bits plugged into it.

    Anonymous review via Feefo | Purchase date: 10 September 2015

    It defiantly is the Rolls Royce of controllers!

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