The SSL LMC+ 500 Format Module is the classic SSL Listen Mic Compressor with additional creative features, including high- and low-pass filters routable to the sidechain, wet/dry control for parallel processing, plus unique Scoop and Split functions
This now-famous compressor from the legendary SL4000E console was a closely guarded secret of producers, used to create the huge drum sound of the ’80s as heard on Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” Its fixed attack and release curves were eminently suited for use on ambient drum mics. (Other compressors are set to “nuke” to create the same effect.) Originally, the LMC was single-knob compressor designed to prevent overloading the return feed from a studio communications mic, which eventually found its way into SSL X-Logic outboard gear. The LMC+ for the 500 series is a significantly enhanced version of the original Listen Mic Compressor, featuring pair of classic SSL high- and low-pass filters, which allow you to target a specific frequency range; a “filters-to-sidechain option for ducking and de-essing", and a wet/dry blend control for parallel processing eliminating the need to set up aux sends. Two additional unique creative tools have been added to LMC+ to give it a distinctive sonic twist. First, it has a “Scoop” button that inverts the phase of the wet signal. Second, it features an exclusive “Split” button that engages a band-pass subtraction mode. Used together or separately in conjunction with the filters and sidechain, these controls give LMC+ a distinctive tonal edge with a range of creative possibilities.
SSL LMC+ 500 Format Module—Just the Facts:
- Enhanced 500-series version of the classic SSL Listen Mic Compressor
- Taken from the legendary SL4000E console
- Fixed attack and release curves ideal for use on ambient drums mics
- SSL high-pass and low-pass filters
- Filters-to-compressor sidechain feature
- Wet/dry blend control
- Scoop button inverts the phase of the wet signal
- Split button engages a band-pass subtraction mode
SSL LMC+ 500 Format Module—Inside and Outside the Box
The SSL LMC+ features the following controls and functions:
Trim Control: The Trim control adjusts the gain of the wet signal through the module, prior to the gain element. This provides up to 20dB of boost or cut to the signal level. The control has a center detent at 0dB.
LMC Circuit: The compressor section has a two-color LED that shows gain reduction and a variable threshold control with automatic makeup gain to change the intensity of the compression effect. An “In” switch takes the compressor in or out of the signal path.
High- and Low-Pass Filters: The filters can be switched into the main wet signal path via the In switch or Split switch or placed in the sidechain of the compressor circuit to provide frequency-dependent compression. With the Split switch active, the filtered wet signal is taken out of the dry path.
Mix Section: Variable balance between the dry and processed (wet) signals for parallel compression and for frequency-selective processing in conjunction with the Split and Scoop Modes.
Scoop Switch: The Scoop switch inverts the polarity of the signal into the compressor. Used in conjunction with the Wet/Dry control and the HF and LF filters, some unusual inverse compression effects can be obtained.
Split Switch: The Split Switch reconfigures the unit as a band-selective compressor. With the Split mode active, the filters determine the bandwidth of the signal feeding the compressor, while the selected band is removed from the Dry path. The Wet/Dry control determines the amount compressed filtered signal that is returned back to the Dry path.
PAD For The Record: The sound of the SSL listen mic compressor (LMC) was made famous by Hugh Padgham on Phil Collins’ drum track for “In The Air Tonight,” heard in the pilot episode of Miami Vice. In the 80s, consoles normally had a talkback mic for the engineer to communicate with the artist, but nothing that enabled them to hear the artists. A standard trick for bi-directional communication was to set up a mic in the middle of the live room plugged into a spare channel on the desk with a compressor inserted. The compressor was set at the highest ratio with the lowest threshold. The reason for this was to prevent the band playing in the room to overload the listen-back mic and melt the engineer’s face in the process. During normal speech, the compressor would be at nominal operating level, so you could hear everyone in the room. The instant the band started playing, the compressor would squash the mic’s pickup, thus preventing overload and causing the sound of the mic to disappear underneath the band’s performance in case the mic was left on. On a session with ex band-mate Peter Gabriel for his third solo album, Padgham, who frequently collaborated with Collins, was using the SSL 4000’s listen mic. At one point, Collins stopped talking and played the drums. According to Padgham, “The most unbelievable sound came out because of the heavy compressor. I said, 'My God, this is the most amazing sound! Steve (Lillywhite), listen to this.' But the way the reverse talkback was set up, you couldn't record it. So I had the desk modified that night..." Subsequently, SSL made Padgham’s modification a standard feature so you could record the LMC at the touch of a button.
The 500 series, which has taken the industry by storm, began with API founder Saul Walker and his innovative modular console designs. API founded the VPR Alliance, the industry standard for 500-series modules, to ensure compatibility among all manufacturers off 500-series modules. This module has been specifically designed to operate in an API 500-series power rack such as the API lunchbox or its equivalent.