Solid State Logic (SSL) is a world leading manufacturer of advanced audio production systems for studio, live sound and broadcast. With more than 3000 SSL-equipped facilities operational today, SSL consoles and recording studio hardware and software are universally recognised for their reliability and outstanding sound quality.
Founded in 1969, SSL has seen an interesting evolution in its product offering . The name “Solid State Logic” was originally derived from their first product - a switching system for pipe organs. 7 years later, the product line expanded to include the first A-series console in 1976, and a big breakthrough with the SL 4000 E Series in 1979. Variants of this console followed, transforming the way music was recorded, and creating an international gold standard in music engineering hardware.
1985 marked the beginning of an era of digital research and development, leading to the development of the 01 - an eight channel recorder/editor. Three decades of continuous innovation landed Solid State Logic not only as a leader in recording hardware, but also professional studio software - both analogue and digital.
Although SSL is most famous for its rich legacy in analogue studio hardware, the company also has extensive experience in digital audio and DSP development. As the industry grew beyond dedicated hardware-hosted DSP, the release of the ‘SSL Native’ plug-ins signaled SSL’s first steps into the Digital Audio Workstation software marketplace - including the legendary Bus Compressor and Channel Strip plug-ins, inspired by sought-after sound of the SL 4000 E-series analogue console.
The entrance into the software marketplace marked the beginning of a relationship between Solid State Logic and PACE Anti-Piracy. In early 2011 SSL needed a licensing solution for their software and evaluated PACE’s early product InterLok. SSL needed a Machine Based Licensing solution, a solution which PACE was still developing, and ultimately SSL chose an alternative licensing platform.
It is important to note that license management platforms hold a variety of responsibility on many different levels. Not only does a platform have to securely distribute licenses to end users, the platform must also stay up to date with the latest operating system releases. "Customers are expecting things to work in their environment. In the audio industry, customers often need to avoid upgrading their computers for backcompatibility reasons between sessions. Supporting all of these environments ends up being maintenance and testing for the developer and you need a platform that can target all these things and is going to work. There are a lot of changes to keep up with. I don't think this would be possible were we doing all of this in house!” remarked Jon Sandman, Product Manager at SSL.
In 2013 an OS release caused a variety of issues with the SSL licensing system. The licensing vendor SSL had chosen was unable to maintain the software updates needed to continue uninterrupted service and a good user experience when a major release occurred. The issues caused the team at Solid State Logic to reach back out to PACE Anti-Piracy. “We needed a solution that was widely supported and from a supplier that made the integration process fast and straightforward. We had already used proprietary and less well known securitization solutions, and familiarity and market acceptance had been seen as barriers to success.”
By this time, PACE had developed and released Eden - a robust license management system with Machine-Based Licensing and security - exactly what SSL needed. James Motley, Head of Workstation Products at SSL at the time, was concerned about the cost to migrate license management platforms to PACE, and the effect it would have on business. PACE was able to work with the SSL and Audiotonix team to create flexible pricing and tiers.
When asked why SSL chose to go to PACE for their licensing needs, Jon Sandman said “We were aware of a number of successful companies using PACE security solutions in our industry. Many of our customers were already familiar with PACE, and so in looking for a securitization solution, PACE was an obvious choice.” When asked why SSL did not choose an alternative licensing solution, Jon continued “Market acceptance is important to us. Securitization and piracy prevention measures are a sensitive subject for our customers, and since PACE had already achieved acceptance with users and established themselves as a leader in our industry, a significant hurdle was overcome from the offset.”
“It is especially important to SSL that we also protect our IP. Emulations of SSL hardware, for example - if someone were to pick the software apart, then it would be a real shame for the dedicated plug-in development and DSP team that we have here at SSL.”
In addition to offering security and licensing services, the PACE Anti-Piracy brand also houses JUCE - an open-source cross-platform C++ application framework, used for the development of desktop and mobile applications. JUCE has been an integral part of the SSL software development framework. SSL has expanded software plug-in development - going from 10 plug-ins, to regularly releasing on average 2 plug-ins every quarter bringing the current total to 22.
“Not only our plug-ins, but our desktop application is in JUCE - the virtual mixer. We are reaping some of the benefits of the JUCE framework - including graphics improvements - in our SSL 360° desktop application and our new 4K B plug-in which used the latest JUCE release. The 4K B channel strip plug-in is an analogue model of the SL 4000 B-series console channel - an entirely new SSL channel strip for your productions - complete with 360° Plug-in Mixer (your virtual SSL console) and first-class integration with the SSL UC1 and UF8 for hands-on control.”
With PACE’s acquisition of JUCE also came the stewardship of the Audio Developer Conference (www.audio.dev). ADC will host its 7th annual conference in London and Online this year November 14 -16, 2022.
Solid State Logic supported the mission of the Audio Developer Conference with silver sponsorships in 2021.
The SSL team participated both online and in-person during the conference, presenting a talk How to Stand the Test of Time (Despite The Time it Takes to Test) by Jon Sandman. When asked why the Audio Developer Conference is important, Jon remarked “It is great to connect with the people that make the products you love.”
“I’ve always had an interest in accessibility and UX. It is a pretty broad subject, and going to ADC and actually connecting with experts in that field inspired me, and gave me a mental roadmap of what we can do and what our focus can be, which is important for me as a Product Manager.”
PACE Anti-Piracy brings a standard in professional audio software licensing that many companies rely on. We take great pride in working with organizations like Solid State Logic to ensure their software licensing needs are met. In addition, we are honored to expand our connection to SSL through our brands JUCE and the Audio Developer Conference. We look forward to a continued partnership on all levels!
For more information on the new SSL 4K B plug-in, please visit: https://www.solidstatelogic.com/products/ssl-4k-b
For more information on the Audio Developer Conference visit https://audio.dev
Freehand Graphics is a global leader in software solutions for the screen-printing industry. Some of their software, notably Separation Studio NXT and AccuRIP Emerald, makes pre-press functions, like color separation, a simple and easy process for their customers.
As art students living in New York City, Charlie and Laura Facini were interested in making a career in the arts. Charlie was interested in printmaking and took a part-time job at a screen-printing shop to earn some extra money. Technology was quickly changing during this time, and screen printing was beginning to transition from a completely manual process to digitization. The industry was changing, and Charlie was at the forefront. While working daily to process orders, manually adjusting colors and specs, Charlie realized that parts of the screen-printing process were extremely time-consuming and error-prone. He decided to embrace the innovation that was happening around him with computers and technology and write a computer program to optimize the process.
Charlie wrote a program that would ultimately revolutionize screen-printing. What would normally take 3 labor-intensive days of work, Charlie’s program allowed to be done in less than an hour. Having discovered such a time-saving and efficient tool, Charlie’s screen-printing shop (which he now owned with his wife Laura) was able to process more orders and ultimately make more money. The next step – could he sell this program to other screen-printing shops?
In 1995, Freehand sought a way to distribute its software securely with a licensing system. PACE helped Freehand set up a secure licensing model that allowed customers to try the software, and later to buy it. The ability to ‘wrap’ their code with PACE’s unique architecture gave Freehand the security and flexibility it needed for trial extensions, ensuring prospects had enough time to evaluate the product and eventually buy.
In 2007, after joining forces with a new developer, Freehand decided to move toward a home-grown licensing model and no longer use PACE.
A shortfall of the home-grown licensing system was the lack of a robust license control center. With limited ability to help clients activate or deactivate software in response to local hardware issues, Freehand actively looked to improve the UX and to enhance customer service.
Free trials are at the core of many software sales strategies. For Freehand Graphics, nearly all sales are preceded by an 8-day trial. One drawback to the home-grown licensing system was that when a potential customer downloaded the trial, Freehand couldn't easily turn off access once the trial was over. People evaluating the software could, in some cases, still have access even though their trial period was over.
Freehand Graphics also offered a ‘chargeback guarantee’ – allowing customers who purchased their products to get their money back if they were not satisfied. Although a rare occurrence, when a customer did ask for a chargeback, there wasn’t an easy way to completely turn off access. A customer chargeback should have triggered the end of the license use, but the system in place did not offer that ability.
Finally, in 2019 Freehand decided to move from perpetual licenses to a subscription model. The need to make this change stemmed from a goal to create more features and a better user experience for customers. Charlie added “Perpetual is an ugly word when you are trying to create recurring revenue for a software product.” It was this decision that ultimately brought them back to PACE.
"With PACE, clients in good standing continue to benefit from using Freehand software, while those without an active license no longer have access. Freehand benefits from knowing that software activated means profits retained, while users enjoy the freedom and power of 24/7/365 web-based license controls."
The return to PACE Licensing not only helped Freehand’s new business model create recurring revenue and growth, but it also resulted in a better experience for their end-users. PACE iLok License Manager delivered a better UX for end-users, who are now more self-sufficient. This has resulted in a significant decrease in some support requests and eliminated other support issues altogether. This, in turn, has allowed Freehand to focus more on product and development.
When asked what role professional security and licensing have on Freehand Graphics, Charlie Facini responded
“Without question, our products would not exist in this form in a digital age. It is impossible. You can’t let someone trial software without security, you can’t sell without security. Without proper security, you have an open-ended sale. PACE Anti-Piracy gave us something we never had in the past... mental security.”
For more information on how PACE Anti-Piracy can help with your licensing needs, contact us!