The SSL VHD Pre is a 500-series preamp with variable harmonic distortion control, selectable Hi-Z input impedance, high-pass filter, 75dB gain, -20dB pad, -20-+20dB output trim, phase reverse, and +48V phantom power
SSL, particularly since their SuperAnalogue signal path was introduced in 1996 with the XL 9000 J-series console, is known for transparency and coaxing out digital-like consistency from analog circuits. The design philosophy being that with great transparency, comes great responsibility . . . (no, wait that’s Spiderman). The concept is that adding distortion indiscriminately makes a preamp rather a one-trick pony. Adding tasteful distortion should be a choice made by you, not the preamp. And when you want to make that choice, the VHD Pre 500 Format Module, whose technology derives from yet another flagship SSL console (the Duality), gives you the ability to season your tracks from plain to hot-and-spicy. You can go from ultra-clean SSL SuperAnalogue audio capture to transistorized grunge using the Variable Harmonic Drive section, which is an all-analog circuit that adds 2nd- or 3rd-order harmonic distortion. The VHD Input Module is SSL at its rock-and-roll best and most versatile.
SSL VHD Pre 500 Format Module—Just the Facts:
- Uniquely versatile recording and processing
- Ultra-clean SSL SuperAnalogue-grade preamp from the Duality console
- Switchable VHD system adds controllable 2nd- or 3rd-order harmonic distortion
- Switchable LF filter (15Hz to 500Hz)
- Hi-Z switch for high-impedance microphone use
- +48V phantom power with status LED
- -20dB pad for use with line-level source material
- Phase-invert switch
SSL VHD Pre 500 Format Module—Under the Hood
The VHD Pre is a proprietary design that can deliver ultra-clean SSL console-grade recordings with user-controllable amounts of harmonic distortion. A +20 to +75dB gain control sets input level. The VHD Pre Module has a selection of other essential professional features, including a signal-present LED, switchable 15Hz to 500Hz low-frequency filter section, Hi-Z impedance switch (1.2k to 10k ohm), +48V phantom power, phase invert, and a -20dB pad to enable the VHD system to be used as a line-level signal processor. To round it off, a -20dB to +20dB trim control enables level matching with other devices, since the VHD circuit can significantly increase signal output level.
Earn your VHD in audio engineering
The VHD section of the VHD Pre Module has three rotary controls: a Drive control selects 2nd harmonic or 3rd harmonic distortion or a continuously variable blend of the two. The ability to add harmonic distortion to taste is made possible by SSL’s Variable Harmonic Drive VHD circuit, which can be switched in or out of the signal path—like smooth or crunchy peanut butter, except the 100% analog VHD lets you add as many nuts as you like (mind out of the gutter, now!).
As you increase the input gain, the Variable Harmonic Drive circuit introduces either 2nd- or 3rd-order harmonic distortion, or a blend of the two. At lower gain settings it adds gentle tube-style warmth or a touch of transistor edge—great for sounds you want forward in a mix without having to take up headroom using EQ. As gain is increased, distortion becomes more extreme until at high-gain settings it delivers fierce trashy transistor grunge. VHD preamps give you ultimate versatility from a studio-grade preamp.