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Manley Massive Passive or Vari MU Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 9th March 2019
  #1
Gear Head
Manley Massive Passive or Vari MU

Hi
Quick question

I want my stereo bus to go through tube circuitry and to color the sound of my mixes. I don't want transparency, I want color and weight.
As a lot of people do, i particularly enjoy the sound of Manley's tube equipment like the massive passive and manley vari mu.

I just want to use these devices because of their coloration and tube circuitry. I have no actual need for compression or eq in the mixing stage, even though, who knows, maybe in the future i will use one of these devices to make some masters as well.

I produce a certain kind of house and techno music, this probably means the music will be transient-intensive.

Which of the two devices I mentioned (Massive Passive and Vari MU) would you choose if you just wanted the sound of the tube circuitry imparted on your mix?

Thanks for your thoughts
Old 9th March 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

Massive passive is all about the mids and tops for me.

If you want heft in the lower register seek pulse EQP!!!!

MU isgreat but can be slow. Has a iund which can be thickened from driving input but everyone’s view of ‘goo’ from a compressor is different so I’d try out a few diff ones tonget the one you like.. might not even be a tube based for that matter.

Wiggy
Old 9th March 2019
  #3
Gear Head
bump

any electronic music producers?
Old 9th March 2019
  #4
I do mostly mastering for a living and I have had both the MP and the MU for many years. For your stated purpose of just passing through for boxtone I would pick the MU. The MU has more weight, glue, and is generally more colored sounding than the MP. Use the input gain pot for character and the output pots for level. Just a dB of GR with slow attack/release can add some glue without disturbing the microdynamics of the mix. My MU is an older one (version 4 I believe) but I'd expect a new one to behave similarly. Hope this helps.
Old 9th March 2019
  #5
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OurDarkness's Avatar
 

I own a Massive Passive and I use it with electronic music. Contrary to popular belief, tubes are fairly transparent and linear electronics UNLESS pushed. I don't know to what extend you can push your mix buss and it's quite possible that the produced coloration will be unevenly distributed across the spectrum. Maybe you will like the sound of the highs and mids more than the lows, so there's some food for thought.

I think it's a better idea to hit hard individual channels prior to your stereo mix buss in order to get a better mix balance. Unless of course, you're aiming for a specific sound. Not that I wouldn't use tube gear at the mix buss, of course, but I'd be a bit more careful with levels/mix balance.
Old 9th March 2019
  #6
Also, if it's just color you're after with no EQ or compression then there are a few boxes out there that are designed for that. Like these:

Black Box Analog Design — Boutique Tube Gear

https://sonicfarm.com/pro-audio/creamliner/
Old 9th March 2019
  #7
I’m leaning towards the Vari Mu. You will notice a huge benefit if you are open to tracking with it also. Hardware synths and drum machines are easy since they have physical outputs (check your manual for output specs on the device itself). Virtual synths and drums you can output to the DAC to the Manley then print back to the DAW and ADC. The cumulative effect in most of your tracks in the production will make things smooth and colored and easier to mix IMHO.
Old 10th March 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
Doesn't feel like a good idea spending money on highend EQ/Comp if you're not gonna EQ or compress.

I think you'd fair better with something like this:

Radial Space Heater: Access to this page has been denied.

or a FATSO: Access to this page has been denied.
Old 10th March 2019
  #9
Lives for gear
 
matucha's Avatar
VariMu changes bass, sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes not. Generally it's somewhat less subs and more harmonics. That can fatten some sources, but there are moments where you want your sub to be left untouched.

The compression fits some electronic stuff, mostly when slightly softer means better. It also won't lock your groove super tight, it's about gentle elegant curves.

I quite like Cranesong Trakkers for electronic music 2buss. More agile yet still smooth. Sometimes I think can be more colored than varimu . But both are almost clean I'd say.
Old 10th March 2019
  #10
FWIW I haven't observed any loss of subs with my MU even when testing with tones or pink noise. It's frequency response is flat down to 20Hz and that fits with the published specs. I do hear low frequency harmonic coloration which tends to enhance most mixes. I can get less coloration by hitting it softer if I want to.
Old 10th March 2019
  #11
Gear Head
I am aiming for a specific sound.. lock tight grooves aren't the thing that i'm after and neither is solid state loudness for now, i'll let the master engineer do that... of course i am open to tracking with the device as well and that's what i was going to do in addition to putting it on a mix bus or a drum bus (electronic music/house techno)..
need to get some eq in there as well in the future..
what do you guys use on your master chain - do you have a separate mid eq plus a pultec style "bass and treble" eq or you can do good masters with only one mastering eq...?

..after this you record a hot signal into the AD converter, clipping it a bit if the ADC allows you to, right? and then you squeeze a few more dBs with a limiter like L2 or PSP or similar inside the DAW?

i need to know these things if i want to make some quick masters in the future..

the idea was to give a good sounding mix to the engineer which he can then process with a combination of tube comp + some vca comp for loudness and whatever else he is using.. but the main part in mastering would also be tubes , other comps just for loudness

when i listen to music i like, the sound is massive.. no over compression no squeezed drums.. everything sounds very big and organic and natural, basses are huge, highs are sparkly and every sound is touched with the eq just right..

and i know what these artists use, also i know what the mastering engineer uses (to a degree).

i know that there are multiple things to consider and multiple devices etc etc. that go into creating this sound, and i cannot do it just with a manley comp.. but i want to start things off correctly.

plus i can hear all that lovely eqs and compression on the tracks now in my studio (it's acoustically treated) and i want to work through that sound.. it adds so much to electronic music

Last edited by insomni.ac; 10th March 2019 at 07:35 PM..
Old 10th March 2019
  #12
Gear Nut
 
Free Mind's Avatar
 

From my experience compression imparts more color and character on audio than Eq.

To answer your question, definitely MU over M.P.

It’s true that tubes are relatively transparent, but the MU does color, in a great way. If I were you, I’d search for a very early MU that uses the 6386 tube. The tube is being made again. I’d also try to find one with the Manley transformer and not the Sowter. The Sowter is great, but more transparent. I have had both here and kept the Manley trannies because of the tone n cohesion they imparted. That version does something special to the sound stage and space you set your music in. It smooths the reverbs in the right way.

Your other option for tube compression, even though the Vari MU is a fantastic piece, is the Thermionic Culture Phoenix. It is used a lot for dance music. It is tube and it has a great bite sonically. Try them both. Vintage King can get both to your studio and you can AB them. If not, you might reach out to VK and ask if they could run your clean mix through each piece driving it a bit with a couple dB of compression and see which you like.

I don’t think you would go wrong with either tube compressor. Good luck.
Old 10th March 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
I’d say the MU only ends up on maybe 30% the electronic bus work here. It depends what sound you’re going for. It can be just the ticket when it does work, but for my tastes & contemporary electronic, the MU doesn’t see a whole lot of action.
It does have a fairly obvious footprint, when you get down to those last stages of a production. Get one on hire for a week or two, it might be just the box tone you’re looking for. It’s prettty distinguishable. But if it was solely electronic music I’d also consider other tube options to try as well.
Old 11th March 2019
  #14
Lives for gear
 
matucha's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by insomni.ac View Post
I am aiming for a specific sound.. lock tight grooves aren't the thing that i'm after and neither is solid state loudness for now, i'll let the master engineer do that... of course i am open to tracking with the device as well and that's what i was going to do in addition to putting it on a mix bus or a drum bus (electronic music/house techno)..
need to get some eq in there as well in the future..
what do you guys use on your master chain - do you have a separate mid eq plus a pultec style "bass and treble" eq or you can do good masters with only one mastering eq...?

..after this you record a hot signal into the AD converter, clipping it a bit if the ADC allows you to, right? and then you squeeze a few more dBs with a limiter like L2 or PSP or similar inside the DAW?

i need to know these things if i want to make some quick masters in the future..

the idea was to give a good sounding mix to the engineer which he can then process with a combination of tube comp + some vca comp for loudness and whatever else he is using.. but the main part in mastering would also be tubes , other comps just for loudness

when i listen to music i like, the sound is massive.. no over compression no squeezed drums.. everything sounds very big and organic and natural, basses are huge, highs are sparkly and every sound is touched with the eq just right..

and i know what these artists use, also i know what the mastering engineer uses (to a degree).

i know that there are multiple things to consider and multiple devices etc etc. that go into creating this sound, and i cannot do it just with a manley comp.. but i want to start things off correctly.

plus i can hear all that lovely eqs and compression on the tracks now in my studio (it's acoustically treated) and i want to work through that sound.. it adds so much to electronic music
You don't need varimu or massive passive for this. It's all in the way you put things together, the closer to source you can tune stuff, the better the results. You probably know this, I don't want to be smartass, so sorry for that. Using manley mu is fun and sometimes it gives you that extra 5%, maybe a bit more in rare ocassions. On the flip side, sometimes not using it is the right choice. At least that's my 10+ years experience with it.
Old 12th March 2019
  #15
Lives for gear
 
John Moran's Avatar
 

Have had both the Mu and the Massivo in a mastering setup (both mastering versions too) along with bunches of other stuff in my analog chain.
The Mu remains, the Massivo is gone, it messed with the low end one too many times and wasn't getting used.
Hendyamps Michelangelo replaced the Massivo and never looked back.

You might want to put the Michelangelo onyour short list, it has some nice tricks to it that will give you all kinds of tube color to whatever degree you wish and it's a real good stereo EQ.
Old 12th March 2019
  #16
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Moran View Post
Have had both the Mu and the Massivo in a mastering setup (both mastering versions too) along with bunches of other stuff in my analog chain.
The Mu remains, the Massivo is gone, it messed with the low end one too many times and wasn't getting used.
Hendyamps Michelangelo replaced the Massivo and never looked back.

You might want to put the Michelangelo onyour short list, it has some nice tricks to it that will give you all kinds of tube color to whatever degree you wish and it's a real good stereo EQ.
thanks for this insider tip (michelangelo)
Old 23rd March 2019
  #17
I was intending to buy a Mu for my mastering setup. For what it’s worth, I got the Michelangelo instead and never looked back. Tracking through it as well is an added benefit.
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