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Let's talk about the Manley SLAM!
Old 2nd December 2002
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Let's talk about the Manley SLAM!

All right, no more jokes. Let's really talk about the Manley SLAM! And I'll try to be as accurate as possible.

I first read about it in the Sweetwater catalog, and it sounded like an interesting piece of gear -- a stereo tube micpre and limiter for a list for $3,250. And that price was crossed out in the catalog, which led me to believe it might sell for below that amount.

Cool. That's a good price for quality Manley gear. I gave my "sales engineer" at Sweetwater a call.

"You show good judgment, but poor timing," he said. He told me the price had jumped considerably. Right now, the retail is $6,600 at the Sweetwater Web site but the street price is $5,940. (Can we call it six grand?)

Damn. Six grand? It gives one pause.

What else could I get for six grand?

1) I could buy two Drawmer 1969s and pocket the change.
2) I could buy a four-channel API preamp and two Universal 1176ns and pocket the change.
3) I could buy a Great River MP2-NV and a stereo pair of Empirical Labs Distressors. Probably no change, though.

And there are many more ways to spend six grand on gear, of course.

So here's what I'd like to know: What makes the Manley SLAM! so special/unique/essential that it would be a wise decision for a studio to throw down six grand to buy one?

Jasper
Old 2nd December 2002
  #2
Jax
Lives for gear
 

Have you gone over the very informative information (uh... redundancy, oh well) on everything that box does? Check out the Manley site.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #3
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EveAnna Manley's Avatar
 

Well, ok.

As Dave Martin pointed out earlier, if you see the SLAM! as

2 x full-featured tube micpreamps, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
2 x ELOP limiters, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
2 x FET limiters, pretend they cost $2K for the pair

plus all the other stuff: multi-function LED metering, plus 2 x real VU meters, plus outboard PSU, plus Line inputs, Direct Instrument inputs, plus 28 connectors on the back, 12 knobs and 11 switches on the front, 8 audio transformers plus a whole TT patch bay for the side chains of all the limiters, plus provision for the 24bit/192upsampling A to D and DAC if you wanna add that, then the price actually starts to make sense, for this quality-level of vacuum tube analog unit that doesn't owe its heart and soul to a $5 DSP chip.

So that's what it is and as for what peeps think it sounds like... there are about 40 of 'em out there right now. Anyone?
Old 2nd December 2002
  #4
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Ahhhhh. So this is really for the big studios then. There's a high level of commitment here that for my home studio needs is clearly over my head.

Not that a big studio couldn't necessarily be in someone's home.

Good description. I have absolutely no follow-up.

Jasper
Old 2nd December 2002
  #5
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
$5,940? What discounting fools are selling them at that price? They're $6,100 at our joint... then again I'm sure our customer service is better, and we do double the warrantee... and we're a pack of greedy cocksucking bastards... [ooops, did I say that out loud?].

The beautiful thing about the SLAM! is the ability to have all of the elements of the unit interact to create everything from a very controlled natural tone, to a completely over the top sound you've never heard before.

**** the nuts, bolts, screws and DSP... the unit is capable of allowing the user the flexibility to really tailor the tone they're recording to the application at hand.

Obviously, I like the 1969... for the same matter I like the MP-2NV, the EL-8, and API ****. The fact of the matter is that while you will indeed be able to spread these units out over a greater quantity of channels, you will not be able to net the same tonal balance and control you will net with the SLAM!

I have used the SLAM! with an SF-12 on drums, and my jaw dropped at the results. I pretty much never use compression on drums, but this was an entirely different story. I was able to capture the image of the kit, the subtlety and nuance of the player, the tone of the drums and sense of space in the room as I had never captured them before. This was an entirely eye opening experinece!!

In a vocal application I was able to really capture the full emotion of the singer, while for all intents and purpose eradicating anything that resembled dynamic range, but without any loss of the emotion that is created by a dynamic performance.

I was able to use the unit in such a seamless manner that when the day was done you could have sworn I had spent a half dozen hours doing automated fader rides on the vocal track... not to mention the way the unit complemented my mic selection for this particular singer to a "T".

The only '****up' associated with this unit was that it was originally priced at a point where manufacture would have been impossible. The fact of the matter is that it's an absolutely genius unit, no matter the price.

If EveAnna had come out and said the unit was going to hit the street for $10,000 and it ended up costing what it now costs, she'd have been a ****ing hero... but because the original estimates were lower than the reality of the pricing of the unit, there seem to be people that want to make her a goat for this.

The long and the short of it is that if you can afford it, it's one hell of an unbelievable unit. If you require mulitple channels of other versatile units instead of this... then you should get multiple channels of other versatile units instead of a SLAM!... they're not necessarily for everyone... but that can be said about ever piece of equipment ever built.

As for me... well, I'm in a unique position working at the candy store... so I never have to make the decision on whether or not I can afford one [I can't, it's damn good that I work where I do because I can borrow one from the office], the fact of the matter is that I can't imagine me ever working without one close at hand for the remainder of my career.

Best of luck to you, and your decision making process....
Old 2nd December 2002
  #6
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Here's a good question. There are 40 of these units extant and 177 backordered. What's the monthly production rate?

Jasper
Old 2nd December 2002
  #7
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by EveAnna Manley
Well, ok.

As Dave Martin pointed out earlier, if you see the SLAM! as

2 x full-featured tube micpreamps, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
2 x ELOP limiters, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
2 x FET limiters, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
Fair enough, pardon my ignorance, but could I use these elements individually? For example, could I plug into the 2 mic pres and use them on overheads, then use one of the Elops on Guitar, then one on Vocals, then use the 2 Fet Limiters on my stereo buss all at the same time?
Old 2nd December 2002
  #8
Lives for gear
 

I played with a SLAM! at my place for a few days.

It's the best sounding microphone preamplifier I've ever heard. It does not sound flat to me, as in freq response. Sounds just a wee tad hyped.

Which is absolutely fine in my book. I really could not care less what the spec sheet says, flat or not. The thing sounded amazing, in my room, with my mikes.

Regards,
Brian T
Old 2nd December 2002
  #9
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
Well, for $6K I'd hope it doesn't sound bad. If it did it wouldn't be worth it.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #10
Moderator
 
EveAnna Manley's Avatar
 

I just updated the website. Thanks for the reminder. There are currently about 130 units on backorder.

Monthly production will get better as Hutch's later mods get worked into production and everyone gets used to building it and testing it. It is smoothing out better now. I think there are about 20 units built just waiting for QC with the next run of about 30 units in kitting right now. New products always start off with smaller production runs so that kinks and bugs get eradicated with each rev and we don't get stuck with too many units that "could have been slightly better." This is normal, especially for a complicated product such as this one.

We hope to get about 10 to 15 units out before we close for Christmas holidays on December 20th. We could get out more but Humberto is going on vacation a week early and the other QC boyz will be booked out preparing gear for CES and NAMM trade shows which smack us back-to-back after we get back on January 6, 2003. Plus we have a full board of orders of all the other 64 products we build that we need to try to fill before holidays.

Juggling resources... starting up is the hardest part.

e-cue: Sorry there's no separate micpre output, but if you hit bypass then you ain't limiting. So the SLAM! can work as a stand-alone 2-channel micpre, line amp, or DI.

The ELOP and FET limiters work together but separately. You can mix in as little or as much of each their effects together as you wish: some of both, none of that one, all of the other one, whatever. They are driven from different points and it is kind of interesting what Hutch did with this approach.

But no, you cannot run in and out the ELOP and then in and out the FET limiter unless you ran in one channel, only used the ELOP, then ran into the other channel and only used the FET. The way this thing is set up, it wouldn't make much sense doing that.

Both the ELOP and FET limiters (times two for stereo) have separate side chain inserts and linking jacks on the rear panel TT patchbay which is handy.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can read Hutch's 34 page SLAM! Owner's Manual. It is a rather educational read in general.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #11
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e-cue's Avatar
 

Thanks E-manley for the info. I still want one, I just need some time on one to commit to the dow.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #12
Manley SLAM! - My take

If you'd like to read my opinion of the SLAM, then go to this link. It was published in AudioMedia (I searched their site and it's not there), so I'm sending you to my site to read it. I would cross post here but it's rather lengthy. I spent several months with the SLAM (probably longer than anyone else had at that time) and got to know it pretty well.

http://www.3daudioinc.com/cgi-bin/ul...&f=14&t=000447

I think it's worth every cent. Apart from being a great sounding preamp (a sentiment that is echoed by everyone I know who has heard it), it also has some of the most musical sounding converters I've ever heard. And I've heard a few (like 30 in the past few months).

I will answer any other questions you have.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #13
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
I definitely want to hear a SLAM!. That's not easy when you live in Austin, TX. The closest pro audio dealer is 50 miles away -- unless you consider Guitar Center pro audio.

Guess I'll wait until Arlyn or Perdenales picks one up.

Jasper
Old 2nd December 2002
  #14
Moderator
 
EveAnna Manley's Avatar
 

You'll be waiting a long time... email me for your local dealer who has them in stock, or give Fletcher a holler.
Old 2nd December 2002
  #15
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toledo3's Avatar
 

Not to beat a dead horse, but why were the original price estimates so far off base?
Old 2nd December 2002
  #16
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EveAnna Manley's Avatar
 

Already explained on all these groups and here.
Old 3rd December 2002
  #17
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Mike Jasper
There's only one local dealer within 50 miles of Austin. Al Priest at StudioTechSupply.com.

So I'll give him a plug.

Jasper
Al is a super nice fella..
Old 13th December 2002
  #18
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
EveAnna writes:
Quote:
As Dave Martin pointed out earlier, if you see the SLAM! as

2 x full-featured tube micpreamps, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
2 x ELOP limiters, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
2 x FET limiters, pretend they cost $2K for the pair
Cool! (Pause) Now pretend I just sent you six thousand dollars.

Got my Sweetwater catalog a few weeks back and finally opened it today. The price for the Manley SLAM! has been corrected.

So I hereby aver -- through the powers vested in me as a comedy writer -- that the Great Manley SLAM! Pricing Controversy is now a dead issue. For that's the kind of power Sweetwater wields.

No more jokes.

Jasper
Old 15th December 2002
  #19
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Mike Jasper's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
I'm meeting with a dealer after the holidays, and if I like what I hear, I'm buying it.

Case closed.

Jasper
Old 15th December 2002
  #20
Ignorance is bliss

Sheesh! I thought it was JUST designed as a 'squasher tool' designed to rival digital compression & mazimization tools...

WRONG!

Oh well my Gearslut insticts must have failed me there for a moment....

I've fiddled with a unit on the Manley stand in Amsterdam, great build & feel to it. and ... most important, Blue lights!

Old 17th December 2002
  #21
Gear interested
 

Unhappy

Hi EveAnna,

Just when you thought this thread might be dead....

So I waited months for my treasured SLAM! unit to arrive in the UK thru Raper and Wayman and it shows up without the digital board. It's on back order! Hello? What's up with that?

Please please please don't give me the 'sony' line.

regards
Frank Oglethorpe
FX Rentals
London
UK

PS Jules, give me a call if you want to try it for real!
Old 17th December 2002
  #22
Thanks M8



Old 17th December 2002
  #23
Moderator
 
EveAnna Manley's Avatar
 

Hi Frank,
We shipped off the first PO we received from Raper & Wayman which was for several analog ones and several digital ones. It wasn't specified which version they needed first or for whom. More will ship in January and we'll get some digital ones out then... no more SLAM!s are shipping out before we start 2 week holiday this Friday. Sorry... hang tight.
Old 20th December 2002
  #24
SLAMmin' Saxophone

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you haven't heard the SLAM on a saxophone, then you don't know how good a sax can sound. Yesterday was the fourth time I've recorded sax (alto and tenor) through the SLAM. Absolutely amazing. Before I've used U87s, but this time the 87 fritzed out and I tried an AT 4047 with delightful results.

On the loudest sections, the ELOP limiter was pulling down 20 dB but you'd never know it by listening without looking at the meters. It was present and beautiful and not screechy no matter how hard he played. It sat beautifully in the track and everyone loved the way it sounded.

Another testimonial. If you've not heard the SLAM preamp, you owe it to yourself.
Old 21st December 2002
  #25
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chap's Avatar
 

SLAM! rocks!

Having had some time to play with my new 'don't touch that!' toy, I have to say that the SLAM! is worthy of it's name and worth the price.
It will undoubtedly become a classic and a must have if it's not already.

Mic pres - astonishing. warm and forgiving yet accurate (you figure it out)
FET and ELOP - amazing and they work together.
Digital output - fantastic and flexible as well as innovative.

Stop coming up with stuff like this or I'll have to sell my house.

I love it!!!!!
Old 24th December 2002
  #26
Jax
Lives for gear
 

It's hard to save up or budget for $6k+ when there are so many cool things to buy between here and there. Must be a matter of perspective: Do I need great fet and opto limiting, mic pres, and converters?

If it is as good as many people whose opinions I trust are saying, it sounds like a deal to me.
Old 24th December 2002
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Hi,
I've owned a slam for over 2 months now and it sits on top of a massive passive that I use either on the SC or as an insert (tricky one, you have to change a jumper thats well hidden). Yes the mic pre is beautiful. Reminds me a bit of the Fearns. I don't have time to give a complete review but here are a few highlights.

The ADC: I thought that I wouldn't be able to hear the different filters with my old ears. I've found that you can use them artistically. The way it changes the perception of the air band is great and I always check all 3 positions before recording. So useful.
Digital users will notice the rather lengthy latency when going DAC and ADC. At 44.1khz it's close to 10ms . I just keep my nudge setting on 10ms in PT and hit the minuus key.
The DI is amazing. I've never heard my old jazz bass so solid in the low end. I tried a Sadowsky 5 string that has never been easy to record and I melted. I've never heard a DI like this. I haven't heard them all but this is cool.
I have difficulty believing someone hardly hears 20db of ELOP on sax. Anything above 4 (on the GR VU) is already squashed to my ears. But I do love this ELOP for tracking. it's very easy to set.
I have found out the hard way that it's easy to go over the top with the FET. It's really violent but so transparent that you can get easily carried away and end up with squash.

The nice thing about this box is that you've got 4 knobs (in/elop/Fet/Out) and just as with the massive they all interact nicely in a musical way.

It's hard to clip this box. but not so hard to clip the ADC and you won't like that. Accidentally shelf boosting an already bright signal will not fail to get the ADC howling. This may be due to the way I have the eq on an insert of the slam. Not a problem if you don't do anything silly.

This puppy cost me an arm and a leg but I feel I couldn't get a better tracking machine for my alsihad (that I hate).
And it will outlive 10 generations of alsihads at least.
All this is very subjective and I suppose some people will want a Neve or API pre with an LA2A and a 1176. I feel I have something thats more flexible and interesting. And the converters are a must have. The metering is very cool and the manual very well done.

Now I want a mu.

bye for now,
Merry Christmas to you all
Old 24th December 2002
  #28
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Renie's Avatar
 

Woah, the SLAM! sounds deeply desirable!
Old 24th December 2002
  #29
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Digital users will notice the rather lengthy latency when going DAC and ADC. At 44.1khz it's close to 10ms . I just keep my nudge setting on 10ms in PT and hit the minuus key.
Bruce,

What sort of uses are you finding for the SLAM! as an insert? Single tracks? Busses? The main mix bus? SLAM! before L2, for instance? How do you think it compares to other high-end plug-ins you've tried for these purposes? Is it worth doing the additional DAC ADC? Are you using this with PT HD, or an earlier incarnation of PT hardware?

TIA

Lee Blaske
Old 25th December 2002
  #30
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chap's Avatar
 

hi Lee

In the manuel (a must read for anyone interested in
audio), the SLAM! is described as a Swiss Army knife. It is. I've used it for all the things you've mentioned. It's a great mastering partner to the Massive Passive and has become especially effective in conjuntion with the Dangerous 2 Buss.
This way allows a user to eliminate the center strip of your DAW and place the SLAM! and Massivo after the 2 Buss. The open top, solid foot and image retention are unbelievable. This combination
has improved every aspect of mixing and mastering.
This also allows me to bypass the L2 unless I need it for an effect.
Plus it's cool looking!
cheers,
Jim Chap....
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