New Gear Review: Manley Labs Core Reference Channel Strip

ManleyCoreFrontThe Manley Labs Core is a 2U single-channel recording strip comprised of a microphone preamplifier, compressor, equalizer and FET peak limiter. The Core starts with a factory hand-wound Manley IRON® microphone input transformer and a Class-A tube mic pre-amp circuit similar to the Manley VOXBOX® and Dual Mono & Mono Microphone Pres.

It’s interesting that Manley’s ELOP® (Electro Optical Limiter from the Manley VOXBOX) is placed before the mic preamp—making it virtually impossible to clip. It has a fixed compression ratio of 3:1 but does feature continuously variable attack, release and threshold controls.

Next in the signal chain is a solid-state equalizer featuring classic low and high shelves (80 Hz and 12 kHz) with a +/- 12dB range. The midrange peaking equalizer section is switchable between a range of 100Hz to 1 kHz or from 1kHz to 10kHz with a continuous adjustable frequency control and a cut/boost range of a +/- 10dB.

Lastly is a super-fast attack FET limiter. It has a continuously variable threshold and release controls, peak LED, and 10dB output makeup gain control for up to 70dB total channel gain. I also like the Core’s large VU meter with its three-position toggle switch for reading gain reduction, mic pre-amp output and main output.

Core’s front panel has: a 1/4-inch instrument input jack, mic/line switch, 48-volt phantom, 120Hz high pass filter and polarity invert switches, variable input attenuator and 40 or 60dB pre-amp gain range selection.

The Manley Labs Core sells for $2,250 MSRP.

Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs, and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine.