This was the first analog EQ unit I've ever purchased, and my second overall piece of analog/outboard gear, but I can definitely say that for a first piece of analog gear, this thing really takes the cake so much that I can't say that I have any intentions on purchasing another EQ module (unless it's a second one of this model!)
I'm a current student studying writing and production at a college in the US, and have heard the name SSL thrown around a ton in my time there as having great gear, especially for rock musicians such as myself, so naturally that was where my eyes first went when I was in search of an analog EQ unit.
My first impression upon installing the unit was that it would be my go-to tool for adding air to instruments/busses and in mastering. The 20K shelf on the EQ has been nothing shy of amazing for me and is something I use a lot to add some lift in the overheads on drums when I'm using it in the mastering process, and can see myself trying to use it in the future on vocal sections and anything else that can benefit from that type of 20K lift. Typically I don't have to push it past 4dB (2 lines on the gain section of the unit since it provides 9dB of boost and cut in either direction), which is great to see, since that means I could push it even harder on mixes and instruments that need even more of that high end air in the mix (I'd probably never push a master that hard, since I really aim for subtle changes in that phase of production).
Another thing that I'm in love with in regards to this unit is the stepped controls on the shelving frequency pots, the high pass filter pots, and on the unity position on the gain and trim pots, and inversely, the lack of any stepping in the selection of frequency and Q on the LMF and HPF pots, as there's much more variables in those areas and for me, having a sudden stop would take me out of the musical experience of using the unit, which I can report is not the case with this! I know this may be such a small thing to a lot of people out there, but for me I really like how fast recall is with this unit as opposed to some other stepped units out there that I've used, as there's such little stepping that it's super easy and fast for me to recall settings. On units that have many more steps on the controls, I find it to be less helpful since there's no difference in feel, so I personally find them to not be much more useful than units without stepped controls. I really appreciate the hybrid approach taken with this unit in regards to the whole stepped versus non-stepped pots, and opted for a semi-stepped approach. This may be entirely common in other units, as I haven't yet had the opportunity to touch an analog EQ other than this one, but as a first timer, this was something that I was super excited to see.
So enough about the technical jargon in regards to this unit, the real question is: how does it perform?
After doing a full album master for my band with this unit, I can safely say it performs amazingly! I was using this SSL unit and the ART Pro VLA II in my mastering chain in addition to some software plugins, and it never failed to bring life back to any mix that had some minor clogging in certain areas of the mix. Too many low mids in the guitars? Find the frequency where the guitars exist using the gain knob while sweeping through the frequencies until you find the trouble spot and adjust the gain to taste from there. Same thing goes for the lack of high mids in certain areas of the mix, just find your problem frequency using your ears (or in my case, the gain knob in conjunction with some frequency sweeping) until you find the problem area and then correct for it. Another thing that I didn't use but love the idea of is the Focus buttons that are next to either gain knob for the LMF/HMF frequency bands. I love the idea of being able to use analog to hone in on areas of the mids in the mix surgically to correct for issues up to to +/- 18dB. That and, it allows for much more precise tonal shaping for certain elements in the mix or master.
Another thing that I found that wasn't present on a lot of EQ modules in this format in a similar price range to this one was the inclusion of the trim knob. In the mixing and mastering process especially, I like being able to account for any boosts or cuts in volume that are caused by frequency adjustment so that I don't end up creating imbalance in the mix that I wasn't intending on doing, or losing headroom or clipping the master fader for/in the mastering process.
There's truthfully not much I would change about this unit, besides the price because I'd love to own a second one someday! But the only thing I found that this unit lacks that I saw after the fact that left me in awe is the lack of a digital recall option, which to be entirely fair is something that only a handful of analog gear has. The recall process for me during my mastering process was very fast, especially compared to my analog compressor, but would definitely be something cool that I'd love to see from SSL in the future!