Tim Palmer Gets His Hands On SSL Controllers
“It's so refreshing to not have to use your eyes and just concentrate on listening”
The UK-born producer Tim Palmer has a 40-plus-year career that has seen him working with artists and bands such as Pearl Jam and U2 on some of their most celebrated albums. In 2009 he established Studio 62, an analog/digital hybrid mix and overdub room, and in 2021 installed Solid State Logic’s UF8 DAW controller and UC1 hardware plug-in controller at his studio in Austin, Texas.
Starting as an assistant at Utopia Studios in London at age 18, Palmer has had decades of experience working on mixing consoles, initially with tape machines. “I was contemplating the other day that for most of the early part of my career I rarely looked at a screen,” he says. “I never had to look at audio wave-forms or a computer monitor.” With the new UF8 and UC1 installed, “It’s so refreshing to not have to use your eyes, and just concentrate on listening. To be able to physically touch an EQ or a fader is a welcome return.” Palmer previously had a fader controller in his setup but this recent upgrade has taken his workflow to another level which allows for hardware control of the SSL Native Channel Strip 2 and Bus Compressor 2 plug-ins via the SSL 360° software.
“Getting away from the mouse and being able to manipulate the EQ has been rewarding. It’s nice to be able to close my eyes, turn the EQ and say, ‘OK, that sounds good,” he says. The interface has a ‘Focus’ feature which allows users to hover over parameters and engage with a physical knob to control adjustments. “When I’m checking the final mix I’ll switch off the monitor and just sit and listen and not get drawn into what’s on the screen. It makes a bigger difference than you would think, you hear it in a very different way.
After decades of working on SSL analog desks, Palmer has now grown comfortable using today’s hybrid workflows where, at Studio 62, his SSL controllers and his DAW sit alongside a modest collection of analog outboard equipment. “I must admit to being a bit of a Luddite, in the sense that it took me a little longer than some to be convinced that this was the right path. But once I got my head around it, and understood how it all works, I became a big fan of the new approach and gear.”