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Manley - do I need it . . .? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 26th November 2012
  #1
Manley - do I need it . . .?

Hi, this is a bit of a 'talk me out of it' thread / your view, thread. Truly a 'slutty' problem.

I have an option to pick up a Manley Variable MU compressor for about $3K.
Not a bad deal? At a squeeze, I can afford it.

I record and mix my own tracks and occasionally other's. Compression wise I have: 1xRNC, 3x dBX 900 series compressors, a Drawmer 1968 and a dBX DDP with digital I/O.
It's not a bad home/project studio set of compression options.

The music I write and record can be very dense prog-rock, through to jazz, ambient and pop.

I'm at a level where I can get national airplay in Oz over the next year and some exposure O/S also.

I'm not interested in the financial payback, more the suitableness of the gear to the type of music I write and the tracking-mixing duties I'll be calling upon the gear for.

So the question is, is the Vari-MU going to add substantially to my pallet of compression tools to make it worth the money? Especially considering what other compressors are out there that offer quality mix bus glue....

Those of you with this compressor or compressors in a similar role and class, your thoughts are most appreciated.


Sent from my GT-I9300T
Old 26th November 2012
  #2
Gear Addict
 
mesadude's Avatar
 

You don't NEED it, but you WANT it and it could be useful!

any chance you can try before buy?

You'll have about 53% of people saying you should get it, and 53% offering good alternatives (yes, some people have 2 opinions !)
So in the end of this thread you'll be in the same place

only real thing to do is try it out yourself..

It's an amazing compressor, but that doens't mean it's right for you..
Old 26th November 2012
  #3
jac
Gear Addict
 
jac's Avatar
Try it.
It's an amazing compressor, but it doesn't have the WOW factor, you need a little of time to understand how it works. It's not aggressive, but it glue things together pretty well and the bass jump out of the mix.
You can use it on single sources (from acoustic to electronic) especially on limiter.

I do have one and I do not regret to have bought it years ago.
Old 26th November 2012
  #4
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monsieur x's Avatar
You don't 'need' it.
Old 26th November 2012
  #5
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mu6gr8's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrakarl View Post
So the question is, is the Vari-MU going to add substantially to my pallet of compression tools to make it worth the money? Especially considering what other compressors are out there that offer quality mix bus glue....

Those of you with this compressor or compressors in a similar role and class, your thoughts are most appreciated.
Manley's Vari-Mu is a great compressor that will be different to the others you own. $3000 is a great price. It is much more than just a "mix bus glue" tool: it can really add nice musical "movement" to individual instruments when you hit the sweet spot.

That said, there's a reason that so many engineers say that a Vari-Mu across the mix bus makes the mix "sound like a record." The inclusion of the filter on the sidechain now makes the unit even more versatile with respect to heavier mixes and genres.

One way or another, I use mine every day and I believe it was one of the best purchases I made.
Old 26th November 2012
  #6
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jmikeperkins's Avatar
The Manley Vari-MU is a GREAT compressor and all Gearslutz need something like that. It's not going to nuke things like an 1176 with all 4 buttons engaged, but works a more subtle magic. Great piece of gear you would use every day if you had one.
Old 27th November 2012
  #7
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sleepyhollos's Avatar
personally I prefer the 1968 on the mix bus and you already have one of those but if you want something that is going to do a touch of smearing (or glue as I have heard it termed here) then this is a good little unit. I know that is what you'd want on the mix bus but I prefer the 1968. Maybe because I've an older Vari-Mu with no HPF switch and sending it to the U.S to have it modded would cost too much. Anyway, I use mine mainly when tracking as it has quite a sound. I can't remember the last project that I completed and didn't use the Vari Mu somewhere in the process. Usually a couple of places. It's a soft sounding unit that I would explain as pastel sounding if that makes any sense and seeing that you don't have any true valve compressor in your setup I don't see a reason why you wouldn't pick it up. It took me a while to get into it but one you know what it can do, and more importantly, it's limitations then you're away.

It's not as aggressive as some comps and can't do what most of the alternatives that you might consider in that price bracket can do, but similarly, they can'd do what it does.

Personally I'd go for it and never look back. I don't regret buying mine as it's a very useful unit. Whether for character or for compression, decent tool.

Good luck friend.
Old 27th November 2012
  #8
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matucha's Avatar
Without HP SC mod they went under $2500 last time I looked. Even as low as $2200. With sc mod it is a bit pricier, but not much. I wouldn't say $3000 is particulary great deal on VM.

It's nice compressor, I like the way how it shapes transients on drums and percussion. Input gain lets you go from duller (smoother) to more agressive midrange. Even the fastest release is fairly slow, so you can't compress hell out of things. On 2buss it's best if you stay below 2dB of reduction.
Old 27th November 2012
  #9
Gear Addict
What are your expectations? As long as your not expecting an Explosive Unicorn Stampede.
If you have the understanding that its only going to make some things marginally better than I think you should buy it. Unicorn Stampede of badass rockery is not going to happen.
Old 27th November 2012
  #10
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Leonardo_007's Avatar
 

there's no doubt, Manley does fantastic stuff and EveAnna Dauray Manley is perhaps the most capable female sound designer in the world.

however, personally i would not spend again several thousand bucks on a single piece of gear these days and have gone the diy route, the past 12 months and never looked back!
i would look into doing one of Igor's compressors, either the mixbuzz1 or the 2254c, the former can be done for less than 700$, you can use it for both as a mastering compressor and for mixbuss duties. MixBuzz1 Ver.2.5 PCB set
do a search and find out what people think about this compressor!
i done the sontec EQ and i can tell you, it's the finest stereo-EQ i ever had my hands on - for around €700.
incredible value for money and what an experience!
i'd love to do another one (this time with discrete op-amps maybe) anytime! (if i had the money now)...
Old 27th November 2012
  #11
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Andrew Kinsey's Avatar
 

The Vari Mu is a great compressor, can be usefull as a second comp when tracking sort of a bit like putting an LA2A after an 1176. The variable gain can add some nice valve harmonics aswell even if your not using it for compression.

On the mix bus is where this unit really shines though, its got a smooth character and is not grabby like an SSL or an API, or even the Drawmer 1968 for that matter. What it does though is add a lovely hifi valve sheen to the mix that nothing else ive heard does it quite like the Manley. This can be subtle or not depending how much gain you want to apply.

I use it in conjuction with an SSL bus compressor when im mixing and will usually put the Manley after the SSL in the chain, so am getting the grabby feel of the SSL with the harmonics and smoothness of the Manley.

The VariMu is also a pretty good for mastering aswell which is usefull if your doing both mixing and mastering from the same studio.

Old 27th November 2012
  #12
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dxavier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonardo_007 View Post
there's no doubt, Manley does fantastic stuff and EveAnna Dauray Manley is perhaps the most capable female sound designer in the world
She is a little more than that. She is one of the most capable sound designers full stop. Female has nothing to do with it. I hardly know a studio that would tutt at her stuff. Give her her proper dues
Old 27th November 2012
  #13
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JonMiller's Avatar
Manley makes fantastic gear. It's expensive, can you make a record without it? sure you can.

Would you want to? I wouldn't.
But I wouldn't want to make a record with API, Neve, and Universal Audio gear either.

As much as it is an opinion I think it should be a fact...Manley gear sounds great.
Old 27th November 2012
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulOcchialini View Post
Explosive.... Unicorn Stampede of badass rockery.
:thumbup:

Thanks you, great point, completely over-shadowed by this hilarious phrase.

New signature in the making!


Sent from my GT-I9300T
Old 27th November 2012
  #15
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NYMo's Avatar
 

If I was buying one again, I'd def make sure it had the hp mod and t bar mod.
( if you're looking at the one currently on eBay...that is my old one !)

Cheers
Old 27th November 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
You can score a used massive passive for that price, which is the best EQ and one of the very best studio tools I have ever heard. Compressors are nice, but most are one trick ponies, though they do that one trick very well. An inductor tube EQ has a huge palette of tone shaping facility, and it's overall coloration is similar (from what I have heard) to the vari mu.

The massive passive has made most of the instruments I have put through it the best I have ever heard.
Old 28th November 2012
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepyhollos View Post
Personally I'd go for it and never look back. I don't regret buying mine as it's a very useful unit. Whether for character or for compression, decent tool.

Good luck friend.
Thank you.
I'll also make sure it has the SC filtering - good call.

Sent from my GT-I9300T
Old 28th November 2012
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonardo_007 View Post
there's no doubt, Manley does fantastic stuff and EveAnna Dauray Manley is perhaps the most capable female sound designer in the world.

however, personally i would not spend again several thousand bucks on a single piece of gear these days and have gone the diy route, the past 12 months and never looked back!
i would look into doing one of Igor's compressors, either the mixbuzz1 or the 2254c, the former can be done for less than 700$, you can use it for both as a mastering compressor and for mixbuss duties. MixBuzz1 Ver.2.5 PCB set
do a search and find out what people think about this compressor!
i done the sontec EQ and i can tell you, it's the finest stereo-EQ i ever had my hands on - for around €700.
incredible value for money and what an experience!
i'd love to do another one (this time with discrete op-amps maybe) anytime! (if i had the money now)...
Wow, what an awesome post. Thank you, I'll definitely look into this option... particularly if I decide to expand the EQ side of things...

Sent from my GT-I9300T
Old 28th November 2012
  #19
Gear Head
 
Geoff Duncan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrakarl View Post
I have an option to pick up a Manley Variable MU compressor for about $3K.
Not a bad deal? At a squeeze, I can afford it.
haha i get it.

At a squeeze.

It's a compressor.

hahaha

ok as you were
Old 28th November 2012
  #20
Gear Addict
 
Leonardo_007's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrakarl View Post
Wow, what an awesome post. Thank you, I'll definitely look into this option... particularly if I decide to expand the EQ side of things...

Sent from my GT-I9300T
before i went diy, i've spent more than 25.000$ on studio gear (the Ureis, the Neumanns, the Porticos etc.) but still do not own things like a Bricasti or so...

unless you are a millionaire, i'd definitely do as many things by yourself that you can possibly do, e.g.

analog pre-amps, compressors, eqs and LDC microphones.

you won't believe how close they can get to the originals (depends maybe on your procurement capabilities)

and save money for things that can't easily be done diy like HQ reverbs or so...

groupdiy.com

only thing that maybe needs improvement is delivery performance of the one or the other guy, i think i waited almost six weeks on the arrival of my pcbs then ...
and when starting a project make sure both, pcbs and enclosures are on stock
Old 28th November 2012
  #21
It's a great point. At the moment I'm in a job which pays very well but is demanding of both time and energy.

As a result I've really not done much music this as the year and my health has also suffered. But I can afford good gear. So I'm buying now... While making music less.

Consequently at the moment DIY isn't that appealing. However I loved your post because given more time, I'd consider this route and it was a great community contribution. :thumbup:

2013 will be a vastly different year. Health and music will come first. And I've pretty much decided (thanks to the thread) that I'll be musicing with a vari-MU in the racks as well.

Sent from my GT-I9300T
Old 28th November 2012
  #22
Gear Addict
 
Leonardo_007's Avatar
 

yes mate!

you're so right!

though diy has given me so much, it had cost a tremendous amount of energy which i wasn't able to invest into making music. and also me, i'd describe myself as a victim of quite a stressful job.
tonite, i did some music!
just plugged in my 251-type microphone into the soundcraft recording desk and recorded a few tracks on the tascam tape machine (drums, piano, bass and vocals) - fully analog - wow!!!
can't remember ever gotten such vibe from the DAW!!
ok, so best wishes on your upcoming purchase!
Old 28th November 2012
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Synthpark's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jac View Post
Try it.
It's an amazing compressor, but it doesn't have the WOW factor, you need a little of time to understand how it works. It's not aggressive, but it glue things together pretty well and the bass jump out of the mix.
You can use it on single sources (from acoustic to electronic) especially on limiter.

I do have one and I do not regret to have bought it years ago.
no wow factor? I heard examples and they had it, the mixes sounded thicker and polished. Hm, if no wow factor I see no point to invest in one.
Old 1st December 2012
  #24
As something of an update, I picked up an Adesigns Nail, instead. It was significantly cheaper, which brought me around and has more comprehensive side-chain filtering. I'll have to spring for a Vari-MU another month!

Sent from my GT-I9300T
Old 1st December 2012
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Manley shtt is NICE man. I've only used the ELOP, Slam and Massive Passive, but if all their stuff is as nice as those units I'd own every piece if I could afford it.
Old 1st December 2012
  #26
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gear is cool's Avatar
Need?

What do you call a deer with no eyes???

NOEYEDEER

I had a Manley Vari mu here for a year....eeehhh it was ok.

I sold it and never missed it for a second.

You can only have your experience, give it a go
Old 1st December 2012
  #27
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrakarl View Post
:thumbup:

Thanks you, great point, completely over-shadowed by this hilarious phrase.

New signature in the making!


Sent from my GT-I9300T
haha, take it it, its yours..
Old 1st December 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gear is cool View Post

I had a Manley Vari mu here for a year....eeehhh it was ok.

I sold it and never missed it for a second.

You can only have your experience, give it a go
Indeed. Owned one here for 2 years. Ehhhhhhh .... it was OK.
No wow factor for me. Sold it. The ELOP? Can't live without it
for tracking!
Old 1st December 2012
  #29
I'm quite stunned with the range of views on the Vari-Mu here. I guess it goes back to the expectations we have of a piece of gear , compared with what it delivers - and operator familiarity.
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