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Yow Keeps ‘The James Altucher Show’ Rolling with the Latest SSL 2 Interface

Victoria Wasylak • MMR GlobalSupplier Scene • July 17, 2020

For six years, engineer Jay Yow has recorded entrepreneur, investor, and writer James Altucher’s interview-based podcast, watching it blossom from a living-room experiment to a podcasting powerhouse boasting no less than 40 million downloads. Now the power of the Solid State Logic’s SSL 2 interface allows Yow and Altucher to create a professional grade podcast from the comfort of Altucher’s apartment — even when Yow can’t be there in person.

Yow and Altucher first met working together at New York’s now-defunct Sweet Sound Studios and went on to record in a variety of different studios in the area before transitioning to recording exclusively in Altucher’s home in 2019. Yow had been transporting his personal recording rig to Altucher’s house for sessions, but the COVID-19 pandemic presented a new challenge. “During the pandemic it really hasn’t been possible for me to go to James’s house, so I had to find a solution for him to record the podcast without me there,” he says. “James has no engineering experience whatsoever, so I was looking for a small interface for him that sounded great but that was also simple enough that I could very easily direct him to make adjustments remotely.”

Yow tested several two-channel recording interfaces, but most lacked the simplicity and studio-quality sound he sought. Enter the SSL 2. “I’ve been using SSL equipment for years in recording studios, so I was familiar with the quality of their preamps, compressors, and consoles,” he says. Yow test-drove the SSL 2 himself and was immediately impressed with the simplicity and directness of the hardware itself and its dedicated knobs. “Whatever button and knob you see on the SSL 2 is whatever the function is,” he says. “You don’t have to dive into settings or menus, you don’t have to click anything multiple times. Everything is self-explanatory, which was unlike any other small interface I had tested.”

Utilizing a Shure SM7B, the SSL 2’s preamps and Legacy 4k feature give Yow exactly what he needs for Altucher’s voice. “For an interview-based podcast in a non-sound-treated space, I definitely prefer dynamic mics over condensers,” he says. “The SSL 2 has great preamps, and the 4k mode is amazing. I always have that engaged, especially with the SM7B. The Legacy 4k mode really opens up the high end without bringing up the noise.”

Even though Altucher does not have his mic signal in his headphone mix, the SSL 2’s Monitor Mix knob allows Yow to quickly check the signal for any cable issues or interference. “Even remotely I can easily see from the meters that I’m getting signal, but I will have him adjust the Monitor Mix knob quickly to check that the mic signal is of a good quality, with no crackling or anything. It’s a lot easier than having to go into Pro Tools and record-enable a track. We can just turn it up, go ‘yeah this sounds great!’ and turn it back down to do the interview.”

In addition to podcasting, Yow appreciates how well the SSL 2 would work for other applications, like video-game streaming and music recording. “The SSL 2 is great for streaming,” he says. “I’m a gamer myself, and I like to stream from time to time. Between the SSL 2 and OBS (Online Broadcaster Software) you don’t need a separate mixer at all. With a mixer you have too many knobs and people get intimidated by it, but with the SSL 2 you’ve just got the red knob, and the blue knob if you need it, and the headphones.”

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