Exciting new addition to my live setup today. Keyboard players usually rely on a small mixing desk to submix their various keyboards when playing live, so that they don’t take up more than a few channel strips on the front-of-house and monitor mixing desks. I’ve had a Mackie 1404 for this purpose for almost 20 years now, from since I was starting out in cover bands in Denmark in my teens. Transistor-based equipment like the Mackie isn’t really supposed to last that long, but it did the job and I might have clung on to it a little too long for nostalgic reasons. Anyway, the stereo imaging and top end frequencies of my keyboard stereo mix really started to show weaknesses, and it was time to replace it.

Since I don’t make this kind of change very often, I was looking for something serious that could last for years to come. Quite a few manufacturers put out products to suit my needs, but there are few high-end options. It always seemed a little strange to me to have 15.000€ of equipment run through a 400€ mixing desk. It made sense to look into the very best products available. After a bit of investigation, the SSL X-desk seemed to be the best option.

We tried it out at soundcheck yesterday and compared it to my old Mackie. The difference blew everyone away, even the drummer (!). It was not a matter of subtle variations, but really two worlds apart. The depth, stereo image, transparency, clarity of the sound of the SSL was every bit as striking as you’d imagine from this kind of top-end brand. It’s five times the price of my old Mackie, but the sound is beyond comparison. Since every note of every concert I’ll play for the next many years will be running through this board, I didn’t hesitate to make the investment.