Solid State LogicSolid State Logic – Chris Jenkins told us a good story today about The Skids top 10 hit ‘Into the Valley’.

Chris was working as a sound engineer at Townhouse studios when Stuart (Adamson) left the session to go back to Scotland in something of a hurry, and before the recording of the album had been completed. Producer David Batchelor knew that Chris played a bit of guitar, so asked he if he would move from behind the desk to the other side of the glass in the live room and finish the guitar parts. He did so, and created the stacked harmony that fills out the track musically and provides texture to support the main riff.

“I got £25 a track session fee and an album credit for that” recalls Chris, fondly.

Thirty years on, and Chris Jenkins is still in the music business, still behind a mixing desk, but now he’s in the business of helping to create the desks used by top studios. He works at the campus-style facility for Solid State Logic. Chris was demonstrating the way that computer games have now become a market for professional mixing consoles because of their intense use of sound. He showed a short clip from a game first with no sound, then with the finished mix. The sound dynamics were awesome and Chris explained this owed more to the acoustic design of the room than the studio reference speakers. He then showed the audience how the mix was built-up track by track from stems including vocal, Foley, ambience and finally music.

Another highlight of the visit to SSL’s Oxfordshire base was the demonstration of their latest product SSL Live aimed at live events (http://www2.solidstatelogic.com/live ) which represents an alluring combination of applied technology, engineer’s know-how and performer’s desires.

The hand of Peter Gabriel, owner of SSL, was very much in evidence and not just because his video appeared as the sample. SSL Live is built with principles a performance musician like Gabriel would demand: it has dual systems to ensure against failure; it has a spill-proof console to protect against liquid damage and to allow outside use; the panel can be dimmed or even programmed to black-out at key moments of a performance; and it will restore its settings for any engineer, any song, any auditorium. Oh yes, and the knobs are touch-sensitive, so they detect the engineer’s hand before he makes a change to any setting. On reflection, it’s probably a good thing there was no advance warning about the imminent exit of the Skids guitarist all those years ago.

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