While you might think that tube microphone preamplifiers are scarce these days, they’ve actually seen a recent resurgence. Just look at the Manley Mic Preamps. These mic pres utilize high quality vacuum tubes, hand-wound transformers and hand-selected components to provide you with natural, organic sound! Tube microphone preamplifiers are here to stay, despite today’s powerful digital technology. While digital mic preamps might offer more versatility, they lack the tone and warmth that only tubes can offer. Manley Mic Preamps are at the top of the tube pyramid and provide you with premium components, gorgeous designs and affordable prices!
There are six units that Manley classifies under their Mic Preamps section: the Manley FORCE, Manley CORE, Manley Mono, Manley Dual Mono, Manley TNT and Manley VOXBOX. All six of these Manley Mic Preamps are handmade right here in the United States! Let’s take a look at these units and what sets them apart from each other.
Model Number: MFRC
The Manley FORCE is a four-channel microphone preamplifier. The vacuum tube mic preamps are drawn from the famous, award-winning Manley CORE channel strip. Each channel has 48V phantom power, 120Hz HP filtering, phase inversion, selectable gain, input attenuation, silent input level control, 1/4” direct input and seven-way LED peak metering. All microphone signals enter the Manley FORCE through gold-plated XLR connectors straight into the IRON mic input transformer. All line level and instrument level signals enter through the front panel Hi-Z direct input. The Manley FORCE is a high voltage device that gives you high headroom. All voltage lines are regulated, efficient and ultra-quiet.
Model Number: MCORE
The Manley CORE is a single-channel reference channel strip. The front panel is intuitive and lets you easily adjust mic preamp, compressor, limiter and EQ settings. There’s also a large VU meter with a three-way toggle switch that lets you monitor compressor output, gain reduction and main output. The preamp section features a hand-wound iron transformer, a triode vacuum tube circuit and a negative feedback gain circuit. The electro-optical (ELOP) compressor acts as an LA-2A style limiter with a set ratio of 3:1. The compression circuit is placed before the mic preamp, which is a unique position that makes it almost impossible to clip. This placement also shortens the audio signal path and ensures a high quality, low noise signal.
Model Number: 40MPB
The Manley Mono is a single-channel mic preamp that’s perfectly designed to use with modern condenser microphones. Hand wiring, handpicked tubes and custom-wound nickel transformers make this a powerful microphone preamplifier! Variable negative feedback is accessible through the gain switch, which you can use to change the speed, tonal balance and placement of the audio signal. Other features include 48V phantom power, phase reverse and a noiseless conductive plastic input attenuator. The input attenuator controls the signal before it reaches the tubes and gives the Manley Mono mic preamp headroom of up to +32dB without clipping. The internal power supply has custom double-shielded power transformers and large reservoir capacitors that promote noise rejection and quiet operation.
Manley Dual Mono
Model Number: DMMPX
The Manley Dual Mono microphone preamplifier is the same as the Manley Mono, only that it has two channels instead of one. It’s great for working with modern condenser, dynamic and ribbon microphones.
Model Number: MTNT
The Manley TNT is a two-channel mic preamp with two distinct preamps. The first one utilizes a Class-A tube channel that gives you transparent sound and warmth. The other is a solid-state design that provides you with clean tones, as well as distortion. The tube channel is based on the Manley Slam JFET / vacuum tube triode cascade circuit, which allows high gain, low noise and low distortion without negative feedback. This lets you focus on mic and cable characteristics thanks to the near-zero gain change between the three variable input settings. The solid-state channel uses high and low impedance preamps simultaneously and can be controlled with the variable impedance switch. Voltage and current preamps are triggered and blended at the output when a medium impedance setting is selected. High impedance setting causes the solid-state channel to work in voltage mode, while the low impedance setting works in current mode. The Manley TNT also has a 60s/70s color switch that triggers a circuit to emulate vintage nonlinearities, tape compression and changes in frequency response.
Model Number: MVBX
The Manley VOXBOX is a combo device that combines the Manley Mono, an ELOP compressor, a Pultec-inspired EQ and an ELOP de-esser/limiter. While it can be considered a single input channel strip, it actually has the power to process two independent audio signals. One signal can be processed through the mic preamp and compressor, while the second can be processed through the EQ and de-esser/limiter. The Manley VOXBOX was originally meant to process vocals, but it’s great for processing drums, guitar, bass and stereo mixes too. Like all of the other Manley Mic Preamps in this blog post, this device features hand-wound transformers, hand-selected tubes and premium components.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the individual sections:
- Fixed ratio of 3:1
- Attack, release, threshold knobs to adjust four different time constraints
Pultec-inspired Mid EQ:
- Three-band equalizer
- Extended frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz
- ELOP circuit with four notch frequencies
- Fifth setting provides LA-2A style limiter
The Manley VOXBOX’s design allows it to compress audio signals pre-EQ and limit signals post-EQ. Silent bypass switches can engage/disengage any circuit during recording and playback. The large VU meter on the front panel features a five-way toggle switch so you can monitor line input, preamp output, final output, compression gain reduction and de-esser/limiter action.
For more information on any of these Manley Mic Preamps, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!