Review: Solid State Logic Matrix

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Barry Rudolph

COMPACT ANALOG CONSOLE WITH DAW CONTROL AND SUMMING

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Programmable Soft Keys

Matrix's Soft Keys and Utility buttons keep the attention off the computer and on the music production by putting the most common keystrokes and modifiers right on the desk. Soft Keys can be programmed to send HUI and MCU commands, plus any combination of QWERTY keystrokes. More than 360 functions can be assigned to Soft Keys for each of the five Soft-Key sets; four user-defined collections retain the preferences for multiple Matrix users.

Also standard are Utility buttons that cover a variety of functions — such as cycling through DAW tracks or accessing modifier computer keys — and 10 Pro Tools-specific transport buttons for accessing markers, looping and more. The large buttons for rewind/FF/stop/play/record and a large jog wheel for scrubbing DAW tracks reside within easy reach.

Mixing on the Matrix

To start a 32-channel mix on the Matrix, begin by assigning the DAW channels you'd like in front of you on the motor faders, and which you'd like on the stereo cue mixer now sourced from the second 16 line inputs. I put all vocals, signature guitar tracks, solos and drum elements on the faders as I wanted to process them further using an attached SSL X-Logic X-Rack. The X-Logic's settings are also captured and stored along with the Matrix's TR data.

The stereo cue faders are at unity when fully CW. I used these for DAW effects returns and instrument tracks that require little or no gain riding, such as tambourines, shakers and “one-time-only” events that I could set and forget. That left the four analog stereo effects returns for a Lexicon 480L. I could switch effects send sources as needed to post-fader or post-stereo cue. As I could only access two of the four sends at a time, I set up the 480L with two mono sends, one for each stereo machine.

The V-Pots can be easily assigned to automate the Pro Tools' effects send faders. The Plug-In mode allows Pro Tools plug-in parameters to be spread out over only four V-Pots with the scribble strip showing the parameters and settings. In DAWs with MCU profiles (like Logic), all 16 V-Pots and scribble strip are available — much better than setting a plug-in's compressor threshold with a mouse. Parameter values and resolution are identical to those seen on the Pro Tools GUI.

To set up most of my automation moves, the DAW Focus mode let me quickly bank across all of the faders in Pro Tools, making a tweak here and there. The scribble strip automatically updates with the Pro Tools track names as you bank around, so keeping names short is a good idea. The collection of default Pro Tools Soft Keys and the Transport were very helpful, necessitating less input from the computer keyboard.

Automating Matrix's 16 channel faders is possible by adding MIDI faders in Pro Tools and assigning them to control the Matrix's. I just banked to the MIDI faders in Pro Tools and made tweaks to my mix while hearing my inserted analog processing.

Programming insert chains was super-easy. I liked being able to try different combinations of the same processors quickly. For example, I saved a chain comprising an SSL EQ followed by the SSL Dynamics module, and another chain using the same processors but in reversed order. I wish I had about six full X-Logic X-Racks.

Matrix Reality

Matrix overflows with more capabilities and features than I can fit in this space. It is an infinitely malleable controller surface for any DAW and an excellent-sounding analog mixer/summing system — all attributes that take square aim at the current (and future) workflow needs of the modern music producer.


Barry Rudolph is an L.A.-based recording engineer/mixer. Visit www.barryrudolph.com.

PRODUCT SUMMARY

COMPANY: SOLID STATE LOGIC

WEB: www.solid-state-logic.com

PRODUCT: Matrix

PRICE: $25,995

Pros: Control of up to four DAWs; cross-platform Matrix Remote software for easy DAW-to-Matrix configuration; SSL Total Recall saves console settings.

Cons: Processing and mic preamps are not included; rear panel SD memory card location is inconvenient; only four V-Pots available for Pro Tools plug-in parameters.






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