Manley Variable Mu Limiter/Compressor Stereo Mastering


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Brands: Manley Labs
Manley Labs


The Manley Variable MU Limiter/Compressor is one of the very few compressors that has become a real standard in Mastering studios and contributed to most hit records over the last decade and probably the next. “Mu” is tube-speak for gain, and Variable Mu® is our registered trademark for this limiter compressor. It works by using the “remote cut-off” or re-biasing of a vacuum tube to achieve compression. The precious vintage Fairchild 670 also uses this technique and is one of few all-tube compressor to do so, that we know of. Even the side-chain has glowing rectifier bottles. How’s it work? The unique 5670 dual triode is at the center of the peak-reducing and compression action constantly being re-biased by the vacuum tube rectified side-chain control voltages which cause this tube to smoothly change its gain. Just like that. The Compress mode is soft-knee 1.5 to 1 ratio while the sharper knee LIMIT mode starts at 4 to 1 and moves to a more dramatic ratio of 20 to 1 when limiting over 12dB. Interestingly, the knee actually softens as more limiting is used. Distortion can be creatively used by turning up the Input and turning down the Output while using very little or no compression. See the gain reduction curves here! You might notice that the Variable Mu® Limiter Compressor has a ganged input control, but do not jump to conclusions that it is mono-unfriendly. Track away! There are separate threshold and output controls to make compensations with plus you can always adjust your individual source levels elsewhere, right? The advantage of the stereo input control becomes dramatically clear when you switch to LINK mode, and that’s what our Variable Mu® Limiter Compressor does better than anything else: final mix, two-track, or mastering limiting and compression. Like one reviewer put it: “It’s like pouring a bowl of sweet cream over the mix.” Mmmmmm. Yummy. Give your music a big hug.   Manley Variable Mu Mastering Version Specifications :

    • Detented steps using 1% metal film resistors on sealed gold-contact Grayhill switches


  • Manley input & output transformers with pure nickel laminations in mu-metal case with flat frequency response


  • 20Hz-25KHz frequency response


  • Balanced Inputs & Outputs


  • Fully differential all-tube circuitry using one each 5670, 5751, 7044, & 12AL5 per channel


  • Independently regulated B+ and Heater supplies


  • Hard-wire Bypass switch


  • Silent conductive plastic input attenuator


  • Recovery 5 steps: 0.2s, 0.4s, 0.6s, 4sec., 8sec. (Not a 12-step recovery)


  • Variable Attack: 25msec-70msec


  • Continuously variable Threshold


  • Switch for Limit or Compress modes


  • Front-panel mounted Meter Adjust


  • Limit (4:1 to 20:1) or Compress (1.5:1)


  • Large Illuminated Sifam Meters


  • Stereo Link Switch


  • Maximum gain: 35 dB


  • <0.1% THD @ 1KHz Noise floor: -85dB typical


  • Max. output +30dBm (26Vrms) 26dB Headroom


  • Power consumption (120/240VAC): 80 watts


  • Dimensions: 19″ x 3 1/2″ x 10″ (occupies 2U)


  • Shipping weight: 23 lbs.

2 Recorvery, Output, Threshold, Attack Spec Not Available LIMIT: (4:1 to 20:1) or COMPRESS: (1.5 to 1) 20Hz-25KHz NO 2 x XLR 2 x XLR No Sidechain I/O 2U 3.5″ 13.5″ 19″ Shipping Weight: 23 lbs.

Number of Channels
Controls Threshold Ratio Frequency Response Side Chain Insterts Inputs Outputs Sidechain I/O Rackmount Spaces Height Depth Width Weight