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Manley Slam vs. Vari-Mu Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 30th May 2003
  #1
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Manley Slam vs. Vari-Mu

Hi. Looking for some feedback on these boxes. Has anyone compared them for mix bus compression or Mastering duties. I was leaning towards getting a Vari-Mu with the T-Bar Mod but the Slam has got me thinking.....I can't afford both....so I'm wondering if the Slam is as good or better at the mix bus/mastering thing. Or is there something that the Vari-Mu does that the Slam can't capture? Anybody tried these guys?
Thanks,
Sean
Old 1st June 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
I've never tried the Slam, I'm sure it's great. I have used the Vari-Mu with the T-Bar mod, and think it is outstanding on mixes. People have suggested that the non-Tbar units loose low end, I can't speak to this because I haven't tried one, but the T-Bar moded Vari-Mu really makes a mix sound great to me. Also, the other day a friend of mine and I put up a Distressor, UA 1176 and LA2a, a Trakker, and the Vari-Mu against each other on just a vocal track. They were all very good, but the Vari Mu was possibly the best sounding to our ears, The Trakker was up there as well.
Old 1st June 2003
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Thanks, Coldsnow. That was some great info. I was a bit concerned about the low end issue on the Mu. Glad to hear the T-Bar Mod takes care of this. Good to know it works on other things than just mixes. IYO how does it fair on drums, bass, acoustic guitar?
Old 4th June 2003
  #4
Lives for gear
Sounds great of bass and e. guitar unless you want a more edge sound like an 1176. I haven't tried it on drums, I prefere edgier comps for that usually vca types but who knows.
Old 4th June 2003
  #5
Registered User
 
Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

I've got an older vari-mu that I dearly love. There is no question that if you try to put it across a mix that has a lot of low end thump (like hip hop) it will soften the very bottom part of the low spectrum. I've only found this problematic with with the most bottom heavy mixes. Mine has not been modded. The reason that I haven't had the T Bar done to it is that for the kind of music that I like the best (and just happens to be where most of my work lies), this Vari-mu kicks the most serious sonic butt of any unit in my studio.
I do tons of acoustic music and "roots" based rock and blues, lots of jazz too.
The Vari- Mu is across the mix buss with the projects without drums and usually is used as a drum mult comp that is brought up under the uncompressed drum mix on the projects involving drums. If you haven't used a vari-mu as a drum mult comp yet...well, give it a try. My love for this unit is based mainly on the style of music that I tend to work with. When I'm working with a more aggressive type of music the Alan Smart, 1176, and Distressors get used more than the Manley. Maybe someday I'll get mine modded, but I sure don't want to mess with the sweet tone that it sure as heck has now. Cheers, Rick
Old 4th June 2003
  #6
Here for the gear
 

I have a Vari Mu and honestly I would have to say that you need to listen to see if it's what you want. The SLAM is way over the top in price. I've tried it too (not side by side though) and haven't been able to bring myself to get one!

For buss compressing, it might be good to have a few. Vari Mu is a definite buy in my book. A C2 would be another. Again, each person has different tastes so...

At my studio, we got a VariMu, Alan Smart C2, Fatso, Distressors, and an STC-8 on the way. I find that I usually end up using the C2 for main buss, and Fatso or Distressors for the drum submix... Varimu is cool but you need to see if it works in certain mixes.

When I mix my arrangements, it's the above (C2/Fatso) but for other peoples' arrangements, the Varimu seems to be better...

Hmmmm...
Old 4th June 2003
  #7
Lives for gear
 

Thank you all for your input.

Rick, it sounds like you have the version with the old tubes and tranny's. Very cool. I would not mod it if you like what you are hearing. From what I gather the old ones are supposed to sound better. Can anyone confirm this?

Michael, what were your impressions of the SLAM? I know the price is crazy but it really does sound like a deal for what you get.

I'm still leaning towards getting a MU with the T-Bar mod. I already have an SSL 384, LA2A, and 2 1176's. I was thinking the Mu would give me another great option for 2-bus work and come in handy when I have to do in-house mastering.

Any other opinions as to what would best compliment my current setup? FWIW I'm into colors, not transparency.
Old 4th June 2003
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by ziegenh5

Michael, what were your impressions of the SLAM? I know the price is crazy but it really does sound like a deal for what you get.
I didn't spend too much time on it as the VariMu worked on that song. For me, it wouldn't be bad to have one in my sonic arsenal but at that price, no way!

An engineer friend of mine has one and he thinks it's real great for tracking. The feeling i got from him was that he liked the idea of having a mic pre, good comp/limiter and AD all in one box.... that was about it...

As for me, I'm more concerned about mixing since I got enough compressors for tracking that I already like. In particular, I'm still looking for any other "glue" that can help make the mix better.

The ability to mix the different colors of a FET limiter and an Electro-Optical compressor is cool but I just don't know... it's too much for what it does.

If it were 3-4K, I'd buy one right away!
Old 5th June 2003
  #9
Quote:
Originally posted by ziegenh5
Thank you all for your input.

Rick, it sounds like you have the version with the old tubes and tranny's. Very cool. I would not mod it if you like what you are hearing. From what I gather the old ones are supposed to sound better. Can anyone confirm this?

Michael, what were your impressions of the SLAM? I know the price is crazy but it really does sound like a deal for what you get.

I'm still leaning towards getting a MU with the T-Bar mod. I already have an SSL 384, LA2A, and 2 1176's. I was thinking the Mu would give me another great option for 2-bus work and come in handy when I have to do in-house mastering.

Any other opinions as to what would best compliment my current setup? FWIW I'm into colors, not transparency.

Try a Neve 33609(original).
Old 5th June 2003
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Great suggestion. I had forgotten about that one.
These are the comps on my to do list:
Neve 33609
Urei LA3A
Manley Vari-Mu
Chandler TG-1

It never ends does it..........................
Old 5th June 2003
  #11
Gear Maniac
 

Neve

thrillfactor...

whats the difference between an original 33609 and the new J models? this is on my 2 bus shortlist but i usually prefer new stuff over original cos of maintenance hassles, etc (I am in the countryside after all - cost me £80 expenses just to get to FunkyJunk in London and get the backlight lamp replaced on my 1176 - and that IS a new model too so what am I talkin' bout?!)



Burt
Old 6th June 2003
  #12
Re: Neve

Quote:
Originally posted by Burt
thrillfactor...

whats the difference between an original 33609 and the new J models? this is on my 2 bus shortlist but i usually prefer new stuff over original cos of maintenance hassles, etc (I am in the countryside after all - cost me ?0 expenses just to get to FunkyJunk in London and get the backlight lamp replaced on my 1176 - and that IS a new model too so what am I talkin' bout?!)



Burt
Besides build quality and electronics...

THE SOUND!!!

The original 33609 is much beefier sounding than the J.

That does not make it not useful, just not as magical.
Old 6th July 2003
  #13
Here for the gear
 

I will sell you my beloved Variable-MU. For a decent price too. I've gone 100% mobile with my rig and obviously can't be hauling the big guys around...

But I'm in LA...
Old 6th July 2003
  #14
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Mink, Please contact me. I have left you a Private Message.
Thanks,
Sean
[email protected]
Old 6th July 2003
  #15
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
There is absolutely no comparison between the 'Variable MU' (tm) and the 'SLAM!'... the SLAM! is a absolutely wonderful on 2 buss... and while it's only my opinion, I absolutely hate what the 'Variable MU' (tm) does to the bottom of my mixes.

The 'Variable MU' (tm) works OK on a subgroup within the mix... but over the entire mix? Not on one of my projects.
Old 6th July 2003
  #16
Gear Nut
 
jmusic3's Avatar
 

ziegenh5,

When I got my T-Bar mod done, I think Paul at Manley said the mod essentially turns a newer Mu into an older one (the way they used to be built.)

I think it sounds great. I'm sort of in the opposite position as you. I have the Mu and would like an SSL 384 and maybe an LA-2A or 1176.

Good luck,
John
Old 6th July 2003
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Thanks, John. What is your impression of the Mu on the 2 bus, before and after the mod? I wholeheartedly recommend you go for the LA2A, 1176, and SSL as your next comps. These cover a lot of ground and compliment each other extremely well IMO.

Fletcher, your opinion of the Mu on 2-bus is well documented and has been substantiated by many others on this forum. I am curious though, why has the Mu become so popular as a Mastering compressor if there is such a problem with the low end? Are Mastering engineers using other comps now, and if so, what? Thanks for your insight. It is much appreciated.
-Sean
Old 7th July 2003
  #18
Gear Nut
 
jmusic3's Avatar
 

Hi Sean,

I use the Mu mostly when tracking or as an insert. However, I have enjoyed using it on the 2 bus as well. I think Paul at Manley said the T-Bar mod only changes the Mu's limiter and not its compressor. I could be mistaken. The best thing to do would be to call him and ask. Then you would get the full scoop.

-John
Old 8th July 2003
  #19
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by ziegenh5
I am curious though, why has the Mu become so popular as a Mastering compressor if there is such a problem with the low end?
Who the hell knows... there are a bunch of people that think mixing in Pro sTools is great too... but that don't make is so.
Old 8th July 2003
  #20
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by ziegenh5
Are Mastering engineers using other comps now, and if so, what? Thanks for your insight. It is much appreciated.
-Sean
Cranesong STC-8 ?
Old 9th July 2003
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
Jack the Bear's Avatar
 

The Mu has been a very popular compressor due more to it's euphonic tone. The bottom can suffer when you push it too hard. With judicious use the Mu is still a contender.

The Avalon 2044 is O.K but nothing to write home about and the Focusrite Blue is just crap.

The STC-8 is fast becoming a popular choice as it's a very transparent box, but you can make it give off lots of warmth and fatness.

It's very difficult to make programm sound bad with it.

Some guys are using the Al Smart box, which in my opinion sounds too harsh. Most mastering guys use them to try and give off that SSL sound which is associated with the "hit sound".

I laugh at that!!!

If you wanna SSL sound use an SSL. If you wanna "hit" start with a hit song.

I certainly haven't written the handbook...just my opinion.

Cheers,

Tony Mantz.

Glorified Tape Copy Boy and Audio Janitor.
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