Manley Massive Passive Tube Equalizer - Mastering Version
The Manley Massive Passive is a passive design and not a "true parametric." A true parametric implies non-interacting controls. In the Massive Passive, the "Gain" and "Bandwidth" controls do interact (on purpose). We cannot create a "Gain" switch that is set up for "consistent" 1/2 dB steps. When you change the "Bandwidth" the step size must and will change.
On the regular version, you get a full 20dB boost or cut only when: the bandwidth is fully clockwise (narrow) in bell mode or fully counter-clockwise in shelf mode. Here on the Mastering Version, this maximum boost or cut is 11dB. Conversely at the widest bell, the maximum boost or cut is 6dB and the narrowest shelf maxes out at 12 dB. A similar situation is also true for the bandwidth detents. So in this new Mastering Version, do not expect a certain dB change per step as it will vary according to where the bandwidth is set. But whatever the step sizes are, they will be repeatably 16 steps.
The Frequency select is already detented as it is and always has been a Grayhill switch. It also interacts in shelf mode. On a similar note, the Massive Passive is a "parallel design" and not the conventional "series design." This means the bands interact with each other too. It is possible, to set a band to boost 20 dB but if another band is boosting near or at that frequency, very little will happen. On a conventional EQ the two bands "add" and you would be boosting 40 dB into clipping. Because the bands interact, predictable step sizes are unrealistic, however, with the Mastering Version, you will be able to repeat settings (if you log them of course). The price paid for interacting bands, is a better sounding EQ and bizarre looking settings (on purpose). Unlike virtually every other EQ, the Massive Passive allows much more EQ without sounding "processed." Where 5 or 6 dB is about all one could attempt with other EQs in mastering, the Massivo amazes engineers with how much EQ they can do and get more "natural" results at the same time. We could have squeezed 11 position Grayhill switches in the modules if we had wanted 1/2 dB steps but then the maximum range would have become only 5.5 dB.
Remembering what we stated above, the minimum range would then become about 1.5 dB with approximately 0.2 dB steps. This approach would have essentially thrown away most of the useful range the unit is capable of. Going with these special mechanically detented knobs which use the same pots underneath that the normal Massivo uses, we get nearly all the range of the normal version, but with the repeatability of the detents. We have also custom tailored the Filters in the Mastering Version specifically for Mastering purposes, moving them lower and higher than the normal version, with mastering engineers specifically in mind. If you are looking for drastic effects (like telephone sounds) then get the normal version. These filters are really geared for mastering engineers. Additionally, the Master Gain Trim controls in the Mastering Version are true 11 position 1/2 dB stepped Grayhill switches set up for a range between -2.5 to +2.5 dB of master gain trim. This allows more confidence in left/right matching and calibration.
- All-Passive tone sculpting circuitry
- Unique Shelf curves use the "bandwidth" control
- Overlapping and Interleaved Frequency choices
- Every band switchable to shelf or bell
- Vacuum tube make-up gain and line drivers
- Parallel symmetrical topology
- Premium components throughout
- HP and LP Filters
- STEPPED GAIN trims -2.5 to +2.5 dB in 11 steps of 1/2 dB each
- Metal Manley mechanically detented GAIN and BANDWIDTH control knobs
- Ins & Outs Balanced XLR & 1/4" (accepts unbalanced)
- Level +4 dBu nominal, internal switches for -10 operation
- HARDWIRE Bypass Switch (unit does pass audio when powered off)
- 44 Frequencies (roughly 1/4 octave spacing)
- Frequency Range: 22 Hz to 27 kHz
- EQ Boost/Cut Range: Maximum 11 dB boost or cut
- Nominal Q range: 1.5 to 3 (uniquely active in shelf modes)
- Frequency Response: ±2 dB: 8 Hz to 60 kHz
- Maximum Output @ 1.5% THD +37 dBv; +26 dBv @ 20 Hz
- THD & Noise (1 kHz @ +4 dBu): 0.06%
- Noise Floor (referred to +4 dBu): -85 dB (A Weight)
- Dynamic Range: 120 dB
- Tube Complement: 2 x 12AU7, 4 x 6414
- Power Consumption (120/240VAC): 72 watts
- Unit is factory set for 100 V, 120 V or 220-240 VAC operation for original destination country's mains voltage
- Operating Mains Voltage changeable with power transformer changeover switch and fuse value change
- Mains Voltage Frequency: 50~ 60Hz
- Size (3U): 19" x 5.25" x 10"
- Weight: Unit 21 lbs
- Shipping Weight: 27 lb
|Tube or Solid State||Tube|
|Input Connectors||1/4-inch TRS, Analog XLR|
|Output Connectors||1/4-inch TRS, Analog XLR|
|Tube Complement||12AU7, 6414|
I use this in a slightly unconventional electronic music setup on my mix bus, so don't read this review like I'm a mastering studio. It's hard to say buy anything at this price point without knowing what you want from it, but the build quality here is exceptional and it helps me make slightly more professional sounding tracks and I find it a lot less distracting than working with plugin knobs. For those asking the unasked questions, there are tubes, but it doesn't get very warm at all, just leave some vent space.There was some "new tube" smell which was slightly more concerningly eye-irrating that went away after less than 10 or so hours of run time. Build quality is exceptional. Doesn't provide super tube mojo or anything, but maybe does make things sound a little bit smoother and polished. Part of the hardware is probably about the experience and this one is a lot of fun to use and just listen to, which you don't get from plugins. There are three sets of controls for everything, so while it is tempting to leave the Q at "wide" and push everything to 11, it's also worth noticing that things may sound more noticeable if made narrower, which also makes sense. My past hardware experience was with a BAX and I found it way too subtle, with the "Q" controls and a lot more bands and knobs to tweak, this is a lot more interesting and fun to me.
My mastering desk has housed two of these and I love them. Because it’s passive I can pull instruments and voices out of a mix without introducing phase distortion. It’s really the only EQ that allows me to pull the bottom of a vocal forward at 330 hz without muddying the mix. The Pultec style shelving is implemented perfectly and makes fine tuning the kick/ bass relationship easy. Additionally, like all Manley gear, it feels good, built like a tank, and the carefully vetted tubes these ship with seem to last forever??!!
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