SSL (Solid State Logic) has just released the brand new Native X-Echo plugin. Could this be the ultimate vintage tape echo? With all the classic features you'd expect (plus a whole heap more), we couldn't wait to put this corker through its paces.
I first used a couple of SSL emulation plugins as part of the Universal Audio Suite with the legendary SSL E Channel Strip and the SSL G-Bus Compressor plugins, which both capture the flavour of the original consoles pretty admirably. However, when I started using SSL’s own Native and Fusion ranges, things got even better.
If you’re not yet familiar with either of these ranges, SSL offers a 14-day free trial for a number of individual plugins, or a 30-day subscription trial on a per suite basis which requires an iLok account. All individual Fusion plugin perpetual licenses are available with an early adopters 25% discount for the first 30 days from their launch, while all are available as part of the SSL Complete Bundle Subscription, currently only $14.99 per month.
The SSL Native X-Echo is a vintage tape echo plugin with a twist. It clearly pays homage to those tape echo units of the ‘60s, specifically the EchoPlex, and features a set of controls like Wow & Flutter and SSL’s classic distortion style saturation to give you that analog hardware warmth. However, there are quite a few additional bells and whistles here that demand close inspection.
SSL Native X-Echo is by far the most comprehensive vintage tape echo plugin I have come across. Like all SSL plugins, the user interface just oozes class; it has the feel and lines of a high-end device and even though you’re still dragging and moving faders and pots with a mouse or trackpad, you feel like your new tape echo unit is in another league, dare I say dimension.
Tap in Sink
The main body of the interface gives a graphical waveform visualisation of the audio. Down the right side are four tape head buttons below the green visualisation of the original signal. To the right of this, a dial displaying delay time in milliseconds, and below that a project BPM display followed by Sync and Tap icons. This affords quick and easy set up of echo, repeats, custom time, tap time, or sync to BPM.