Gear Stories With Sylvia Massy: SSL—Duality and Reality

Mar 31, 2010 12:20 PM

A CRATE FULL OF DREAMS

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Exhausted and satisfied, Greg Shivy admires the new console.


Exhausted and satisfied, Greg Shivy admires the new console.


























It was some time before I eventually found our SSL. It was sitting long forgotten in a big dusty crate far away in a Long Island warehouse. When the massive boomerang 9080J came to light, I knew my search was over. A one-owner console, it was previously installed in the WWE’s studios in Connecticut. That’s right, World Wrestling Entertainment. Can you imagine what obscenities Steve Austin and Ric Flair hurled at each other through this thing? For some unexplainable reason, it was de-installed in favor of a modern digital console after only two years in service, and it had been sitting forlorn in that warehouse waiting for me since then. Moving quickly, we secured financing and put our money down!

Next challenge: How exactly do you move three tons of SSL from one side of the country to the other on a bone-skinny budget? RadioStar is in Weed, Calif., and our “new” console was in Islip, N.Y. A professional moving company quoted us $10k for the coast-to-coast service. I’d much rather buy a rack of compressors than pay a moving company for something we could do ourselves. The SSL had been decommissioned properly and was crated and ready to go. We quickly formed the RadioStar Moving Team, comprising two members: my husband, Greg Shivy, and his pal Jeremy Dyer.

First, Greg bought a brand-new Haulmark 24-foot enclosed car trailer over the phone. Then he and his helper drove from Weed to Elkhart, Ind., and picked up the trailer at the factory itself. Nonstop, they hauled ass to New York, taking turns driving while the other slept in the back of the quad-cab GMC truck. After loading up the SSL in Islip, they turned right back around and drove straight back to the California in record time, pounding Red Bulls all along the way. Even though they had to take an 800-mile detour to avoid a huge blizzard in the Midwest, it was a seven-day run total, and the console was unloaded without a scratch or a hiccup on the Weed end of the trip. Installation was flawless, and the console has performed brilliantly since its first day of official operation.

The amazing part of this continental adventure was that after the console was unloaded, Greg replaced the tires and immediately sold the trailer for a tidy profit! When we tallied up the receipts, it turned out that we had somehow actually made money on the move. Hello to a new rack of compressors!

Having had the SSL 9080J operating in the studio now for the past few years, I have to say that the SSL sales rep was absolutely right: This J Series is an energy-sucking pig! Between the huge power draw it requires to operate and the air-conditioning system needed to keep it cool, every month I have a $2,000 power bill! Yet I love this console and have no regrets about purchasing it—outside of its contribution to global warming. Okay, maybe there is a little regret every time I open up that power bill.

However, I’m now shedding the romantic notion that every console purchase has to be an Indiana Jones–style adventure. My next console will definitely be newer, smaller and more efficient—most likely a Duality. In the meantime, we have designed a fan system to recycle the heat from Studio B’s J9080 mix room by blowing it into the rest of the building during the winter. It really does cut down on the fuel bills. See how green we can be? 


Sylvia Massy is the unconventional producer and engineer of artists including Tool, System of a Down, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and Prince. She is a member of the NARAS P&E Wing Steering Committee and Advisory Boards, and is a resident producer at RadioStar Studios in Weed, Calif.






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