Hi everyone, Matty here. Today, we’re delving into the world of DAW control surfaces, specifically the SSL UF1. Solid State Logic (SSL) has a legendary reputation in the audio world, known for their massive, high-end mixing consoles used on countless hit records. However, modern music production often happens “in the box” – inside our computers with DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). The SSL UF1 aims to bring the feel and workflow of those iconic SSL consoles into modern studios, regardless of size or budget. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype!

Key Features of the SSL UF1

Let’s break down what makes the UF1 tick and why it might be the upgrade your studio setup needs:

  • The Star: High-Quality Motorized Fader: One of the core elements of the UF1 is its 100 mm touch-sensitive motorized fader. This fader is the heart of mixing on the UF1. Its smooth operation allows for precise level adjustments, and most importantly, it integrates beautifully with your DAW for writing and recalling automation.
  • Informative Dual Displays: Flanking the fader are two high-resolution color displays. These provide crucial visual feedback, showing track names, parameter values, automation curves, and more, significantly reducing the need to constantly look back at your computer screen.
  • Navigation Powerhouse: Weighted Jog Wheel: The UF1’s weighted jog wheel serves multiple purposes – it gives you fine control for track scrubbing or for navigating your project in large time increments. Plus, it becomes a handy control knob for adjusting plugin parameters when needed.
  • Customizable Control: Assignable Buttons: Surrounding the fader and displays are an array of buttons. The real power here is customization – you can assign these to execute DAW shortcuts, control plugins, open project windows, essentially anything you do frequently – saving valuable time.
  • The SSL Ecosystem: SSL 360° Software Integration The UF1 isn’t just a standalone controller. It’s designed to integrate seamlessly with SSL’s 360° software and their own plugins. This means you can use the UF1 to control SSL’s renowned EQ and dynamics plugins directly, with the displays even visualizing your EQ curves.

Real-World Use Cases: The SSL UF1 in Action

The UF1’s features are great on paper, but the real test is how they enhance your day-to-day production. Here are some key areas where I’ve found it to be a game-changer:

  • Mixing Made Tactile: Mixing with a mouse works, but let’s be honest, it’s not inspiring. The UF1 brings the feel of a real console to your fingertips. Riding faders to balance levels, drawing in smooth volume automation – it all becomes intuitive and more musical.
  • Automation Ace: Writing and editing automation feels dramatically improved with the UF1. You get fine control with the fader, clear visual feedback on the displays, and if you regularly touch-up fades and adjust automation curves, this will save you a significant amount of time.
  • Plugins Get Physical: Using software plugins is incredible, but adjusting parameters with a mouse often feels disconnected. With the UF1’s assignable knobs and buttons, you can map frequently used plugin parameters, adding a level of tactility and precision that enhances your workflow.

Expanding Your Control: UF1 + UC1 + UF8

The SSL UF1 is powerful on its own, but its true potential unlocks when you combine it with other SSL controllers. Here’s how it integrates:

  • UC1: The Brain: The SSL UC1 is a dedicated plugin controller. While the UF1 gives you a single fader, the UC1 focuses on in-depth control of SSL’s plugins. The UF1 seamlessly becomes an expansion for the UC1, adding the fader control and convenient access to often-used functions.
  • UF8: Multi-Fader Power: If you work on large projects, you can add up to four UF8 controllers (each featuring eight faders) to your system. With a UC1 and multiple UF8s, you essentially build your own custom SSL console, perfect for complex mixes and giving you tactile control over many channels at once.

This modular system caters to various studio sizes, budgets, and workflow preferences. You can start with the UF1 and expand as your needs and projects grow.

Pros and Cons: An Honest Look at the SSL UF1

Like any piece of gear, the UF1 has its advantages and some things to consider before taking the plunge.


  • Superb Build Quality: SSL gear is known for being rock-solid, and the UF1 is no exception. It feels premium and can absolutely withstand the rigors of daily studio use.
  • Tactile Workflow: There’s a joy and efficiency in physical controls that a mouse can’t replicate. The UF1 puts a satisfyingly real-world feel into modern production.
  • Deep DAW Integration: The UF1 works flawlessly with major DAWs, minimizing the need for tedious setup and configuration.
  • Expandability: The option to grow your system with UC1 and UF8 units is a major plus, letting you customize a setup that perfectly suits your needs.


  • Price: SSL gear is an investment, and the UF1 is no exception. If you’re on a strict budget, there are more affordable controllers on the market.
  • Single Fader Focus: For some users, a single fader might feel limiting, especially those used to multi-fader mixing surfaces.

Conclusion: Is the SSL UF1 Worth It?

The SSL UF1 is a seriously impressive controller designed for producers who demand a hands-on, console-like experience within their DAW environment. Its high build quality, intuitive features, and integration with the SSL 360° ecosystem make it a valuable addition to any studio.

Ultimately, whether it’s the right investment comes down to a few factors:

  • Workflow: If you crave the tactile experience and accelerated workflow of physical controls, the UF1 delivers in spades.
  • Budget: If you can afford the premium price tag, the SSL reputation for quality is reflected in the UF1.
  • Future Plans: If you envision expanding your control setup with a UC1 or additional UF8s down the line, the UF1 becomes even more of a smart investment.

If you prioritize a premium feel, seamless DAW integration, and the potential for future expansion, the SSL UF1 is hard to beat and could very well become the centerpiece of your studio.