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Do I want a Manley VoxBox?
Old 29th July 2013
  #1
Gear Head
Do I want a Manley VoxBox? Or Portico II?

Hi Pros

Been considering a Manley Voxbox or Portico II and want some feedback from pros that have used it as well as other gear.

We're a commercial production studio with lots of voice overs for national campaigns, tv promos, movie trailers, etc.

Current gear we use often includes Great River MP-2NV, Aphex 1100 mk2, EL8 Distressor, LA4, and various eq's. Mics used most often are the Neumann U87 and Sennheiser MKH-416.

For light commercial vo's, any of the above gear will sound fine. I'm more interested in considering the Voxbox or Portico II for the stronger work that need attitude, depth, meat, etc. Would one or either give me a stronger sound than one of the preamps I have plus the distressor and eq?

Thank you for feedback and your experience. Sean
Old 29th July 2013
  #2
Lives for gear
For Voice-Over it's a excellent Tube Preamp with build in de-esser, compressor and EQ essential tool for voices work. Not much products these day has those features built in the unit...
Old 29th July 2013
  #3
Lives for gear
I forgot, you could check out Rupert Neve Portico ii channel also a great preamp for your voices work...except there is no de-esser feature built in..if that's a must have for you..
Old 29th July 2013
  #4
Gear Head
Thanks for reminding me to also look at the Portico II. Looking for feedback between the two compared to my current setup.
Old 29th July 2013
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Not necessarily "high-end," but the Aphex Channel is used frequently in voice-overs and radio.
Old 29th July 2013
  #6
Lives for gear
If it makes a difference the VoxBox preamp has absolutely no self noise. It is the quietest preamp I have ever used. You see absolutely no self noise from the unit on your DAW from it. Very amazing actually. Mine sounds great with all of my mics including SM58, U87ai, Manley Ref C, and AMS ST250 (in mono).
Old 29th July 2013
  #7
Lives for gear
 
adam_f's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanFL View Post
Hi Pros

Been considering a Manley Voxbox or Portico II and want some feedback from pros that have used it as well as other gear.

We're a commercial production studio with lots of voice overs for national campaigns, tv promos, movie trailers, etc.

Current gear we use often includes Great River MP-2NV, Aphex 1100 mk2, EL8 Distressor, LA4, and various eq's. Mics used most often are the Neumann U87 and Sennheiser MKH-416.

For light commercial vo's, any of the above gear will sound fine. I'm more interested in considering the Voxbox or Portico II for the stronger work that need attitude, depth, meat, etc. Would one or either give me a stronger sound than one of the preamps I have plus the distressor and eq?

Thank you for feedback and your experience. Sean

I've owned a Manley VoxBox (new) since 1999, it's a fantastic tube microphone preamplifier / channel strip. It has a little learning curve, nothing major though.

Great for V/O work, awesome for vocals, the D/I is sweet too. Though like anything... results will vary upon your source and Mic, still the VoxBox is extremely versatile.

THINGS TO REMEMBER
  • The compressor comes before the microphone preamp stage; brilliant, you're actually plugging into the compressor first! The compressor is of an LA2A & Manley ELOP type.
  • The input knob is an input attenuator.
  • The two sides of the channel strip can be used independently. I.E. you can use the mic pre side on one source while using the EQ / Limiter side on something else simultaneously.
  • The Limiter is of an LA2A & Manley ELOP type.
  • The EQ is PULTEC style.
  • The 1/4" unbalanced outputs (pre-amp & EQ out) bypass the transformers, great if you don't want the transformer's coloration.

P.S... Two Manely VoxBox units can be linked via connection on the back ranel, and activated by switch on the front panel.

It's a beautifully conceived piece of equipment, operationally versatile, and often misunderstood due to pilot error.
Old 29th July 2013
  #8
Lives for gear
 
LeMauce's Avatar
Indeed... The voxbox is used often wrong by pilot error.
It takes some trail and error with a nice learning time.... but it is worth it.
If I have one in a studio where I record, I use it and not only on vocals.
Room and kicks also or other percusive sounds that have to be smooth out.
Old 29th July 2013
  #9
Lives for gear
 
nobtwiddler's Avatar
Three Vox Boxes, used on Drums with a Glyn Johns mic setup is a beautiful thing~!
Old 31st July 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
clonewar's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by asiandude View Post
I forgot, you could check out Rupert Neve Portico ii channel also a great preamp for your voices work...except there is no de-esser feature built in..if that's a must have for you..
The Portico II Channel has a de-esser on board.
Old 31st July 2013
  #11
Lives for gear
Thanks for your correction, infact Rupert Neve Portico II does have de-esser built in. Now my choice would be Rupert Neve Portico II pick than Manley Voxbox due to the transformer sound I prefer over Tube in Mic Preamp, now that just me..
Old 31st July 2013
  #12
Buy a Voxbox and later get a Portico pre
Old 31st July 2013
  #13
The Vox Box has a lot of nice features but I much prefer the pre in the Portico.
Old 31st July 2013
  #14
Lives for gear
 
adam_f's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by asiandude View Post
Thanks for your correction, infact Rupert Neve Portico II does have de-esser built in. Now my choice would be Rupert Neve Portico II pick than Manley Voxbox due to the transformer sound I prefer over Tube in Mic Preamp, now that just me..
The Manley VoxBox is a transformer balanced tube microphone pre-amplifier with the ability to go transformer or transformer-less on the output side, dependent upon which output connector you use XLR or 1/4" unbalanced.

The EQ De-esser/Limiter section also features the same transformer/transformer-less output option.
Old 31st July 2013
  #15
Gear Head
 

I've owned a pair of VoxBox for a number of years now and have never regretted buying them.

They are very versatile and, as a poster above pointed out, can be used with or without their transformers. Also the 'gain' knob allows you to dial in as much, or as little, tube saturation as you like.

Also, using either the compressor 'or' the limiter provides even more variety as the compressor is before the pre and the limiter after.

Ultimately, it all depends how you intend using them, but for plenty of character in VO work I'd suggest going through the transformers with plenty of tube saturation dialled in and play around with the comp / limiter to taste.

The VoxBox sounds great, is beautifully built, wonderfully tactile, extremely reliable and personally I've found Manley's customer service first class.
Old 1st August 2013
  #16
Gear Head
Thank you everyone for the feedback and info...a Voxbox is on the way. I'll look to try out a portico at some point and see how it compares once I have the voxbox dialed in well.

Anyone with a Portico II around Atlanta or Tampa and would be willing to compare one day?

Sean
www.seancaldwell.com
Old 1st August 2013
  #17
Recently Used the VOX Box's mic preamp with a Soundelux U195 on Bass with an ampeg B15/cab, sounded warm and fat. Didn't mess with the processing on the unit, and patched an external optical tube compressor that I thought destroyed the manley compressor for this application,
Old 1st August 2013
  #18
Lives for gear
 
cowboycoalminer's Avatar
Seems like there's usually an awful lot of Vox Boxes on Evilbay. Not saying that means anything but it does make me wonder why.
Old 4th August 2013
  #19
Lives for gear
Well, just because people are selling some gears a lot on e-bay's or ads doesn't mean that gears is bad or something wrong with it. I think people getting bored with the gears they used for so long and they want something new into their works, just like the old wife's and We all want newer wife and younger too time for a change...
Old 4th August 2013
  #20
Lives for gear
 
cowboycoalminer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by asiandude View Post
Well, just because people are selling some gears a lot on e-bay's or ads doesn't mean that gears is bad or something wrong with it. I think people getting bored with the gears they used for so long and they want something new into their works, just like the old wife's and We all want newer wife and younger too time for a change...
Don't know about that. Took me 22 years to train the one I got. Sure don't want to start over this late in the game.

And I have gear that I won't sell, period. Never get tired of it because theirs just nothing better. Maybe different but not better.
Old 4th August 2013
  #21
Lives for gear
 
RedTuxedo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboycoalminer View Post
Don't know about that. Took me 22 years to train the one I got. Sure don't want to start over this late in the game.

And I have gear that I won't sell, period. Never get tired of it because theirs just nothing better. Maybe different but not better.
Well said!!

Doesn't the compressors threshold come before the gain if the pre?

They are great, but they do have a learning curve.

My Manley SLAM! to this day bestows secrets every now and again.

Those and their Vari Mu are the most elusive pieces of gear.

They hold many secrets.

That's only from experience, so it may not be limited to that.
Old 23rd August 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
mbvoxx's Avatar
I have an old friend who's specialty is radio/tv imaging. He has a classic sounding low, ballzy voice 2 octaves below normal mortals and already had a good signal chain for his daily imaging work. But he thought the Vox Box would add something more to what was already a great sound so he spent the bucks on it and changed over to the Manley box. Turns out it didn't do anything for him that his old pre wasn't already doing and after a few months of using it he went back to his old unit and sold the VoxBox.

point is: Although the VoxBox is a great unit, "Attitude, depth and meat" really start with the talent behind the mic and you can't add more to what isn't there to begin with.
Old 24th August 2013
  #23
Gear Maniac
 
scvo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
I have an old friend who's specialty is radio/tv imaging. He has a classic sounding low, ballzy voice 2 octaves below normal mortals and already had a good signal chain for his daily imaging work. But he thought the Vox Box would add something more to what was already a great sound so he spent the bucks on it and changed over to the Manley box. Turns out it didn't do anything for him that his old pre wasn't already doing and after a few months of using it he went back to his old unit and sold the VoxBox.

point is: Although the VoxBox is a great unit, "Attitude, depth and meat" really start with the talent behind the mic and you can't add more to what isn't there to begin with.
Being that he 2 octaves low...

Just curious... what was his old pre that he went back to?
Old 20th October 2013
  #24
Gear Nut
 
dlt123's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
I have an old friend who's specialty is radio/tv imaging. He has a classic sounding low, ballzy voice 2 octaves below normal mortals and already had a good signal chain for his daily imaging work. But he thought the Vox Box would add something more to what was already a great sound so he spent the bucks on it and changed over to the Manley box. Turns out it didn't do anything for him that his old pre wasn't already doing and after a few months of using it he went back to his old unit and sold the VoxBox.

point is: Although the VoxBox is a great unit, "Attitude, depth and meat" really start with the talent behind the mic and you can't add more to what isn't there to begin with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by scvo View Post
Being that he 2 octaves low...

Just curious... what was his old pre that he went back to?

I ditto this, what did he go back to...???
Old 21st October 2013
  #25
Lives for gear
 
andychamp's Avatar
Re. Gain Switch:
- it mostly affects transient behaviour, from accentuated to softened, but I wouldn't go as far as calling it saturation. When the VB does clip, it sure sounds fugly, but it's not meant to.
- on higher settings, it does add a bit of (nostalgia-inducing) hiss.
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