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Manley Tube Preamp Manual

In this article

Get smooth, detailed vocals, bass, and more.

Manley tube mic preamps are a modern classic, adding unmistakable clarity and detail to any signal that passes through them. Now, you can easily get the harmonically "alive" Class‑A sound in a simple plug‑in.

  • Give vocals and other instruments the smooth, clear sound of Manley's Class-A tube mic preamp
  • Add tube detail and rich complex circuit behaviors to make your acoustic guitars and keyboards come alive
  • Punch up your percussion tracks with authentic big studio sound
  • Record in realtime "through" a high-end Manley preamp with Apollo and Unison™ technology

Add Clarity and Weight to Any Source

The UAD Manley Tube Preamp plug-in gives you all the open sheen of a Manley hardware preamp, faithfully modeling every stage of its overbuilt circuit, so you can inject instant life to vocals and bass, punch up acoustic guitars and drums, or push synths forward.

Record "Through" a Boutique Tube Preamp With Apollo

UA’s groundbreaking Unison technology lets you track in realtime through the Manley Tube Preamp plug‑in using your Apollo, giving you the original vintage hardware's line/mic preamp impedance, gain stage "sweet spots," and exact circuit behaviors.

 

 


 

Operational Overview

The Manley Tube preamp uses an all-tube amplifier circuit for gain. Note that the INPUT control is the primary "clean" input level control. The stepped GAIN control doesn't simply adjust the amount of amplification; instead, it adjusts negative feedback within the preamp circuit.

In addition to gain, negative feedback also affects transient response, harmonic structure, clipping, and other sonic characteristics. As such, GAIN is typically used as a color control and the INPUT and/or OUTPUT controls can then be used to normalize signal levels.

Artist Presets

This plug-in includes presets tuned by prominent Universal Audio artists. 

Chuck Zwicky

Eric J Dubowsky

Richard Chycki

Damian Taylor

Ivan Barias

Steve Levine

Darrell Thorp

Mark Needham

Tony Platt

Artists that provided presets for Manley Tube Preamp

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Manley Tube Preamp interface

Apollo Unison Interactions

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Apollo Unison Interactions

Some control descriptions begin with the Unison Interaction(s) heading. Descriptions in these sections apply only when the plug-in is placed in the dedicated UNISON insert on the Apollo preamp channel within Console or LUNA.

>Note: When Unison plug-ins are used in standard (non-Unison) inserts, the Unison interaction descriptions do not apply.

For complete details, see the Unison chapter within the Apollo Software Manual (for rackmount and desktop models) or Apollo SOLO Manual.

 

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Gain control outlines in Unison gain stage mode indicating hardware control is available

 


 

Manley Tube Preamp Controls

SOURCE

The SOURCE rotary switch provides an attenuation pad for the input signal. When set to MIC, the input signal is not attenuated. When set to LINE, the input signal is attenuated by approximately 4 dB.

Tip: Click the text labels to select the source value.

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Unison Interactions

  • Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware INPUT switch.
  • When Apollo's Hi-Z instrument input is connected, SOURCE is automatically overridden and the switch has no effect.

INPUT

INPUT is the main level control at the input to the plug-in. It attenuates the signal before the preamplifier. Rotate the knob clockwise to increase the signal level. The available range is 0 to 10, but values are arbitrary.

Tip: Click the "INPUT" text label to return to the default setting.

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Unison Interactions

  • Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware PREAMP knob.
  • When Apollo is in Unison Gain Stage Mode, the control is outlined in orange, indicating it is available for hardware control.

 

GAIN

This five-position switch sets the amount of negative feedback in the mic preamp (it is not a pad or simple gain control). GAIN values of 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 dB are available.

Negative feedback affects the transient response, harmonic structure, clipping, and other sonic characteristics of the preamp. As such, it is typically used as a tone control.

<Tip: Click the text labels to select a gain value.

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Unison Interactions

When Apollo is in Unison Gain Stage Mode:

  • Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware PREAMP knob.
  • The control is outlined in amber, indicating it is available for hardware control.

OUTPUT

Output is a clean digital gain control that adjusts the signal level at the output of the plug-in. The available range is -60 dB to +12.0 dB.

Tip: Click the "OUTPUT" text label to set the value to 0 dB.

This control, which does not exist on the original hardware, facilitates the ability to maintain unity gain and/or maximize color of the overall signal. For example, compression and EQ can be adjusted to taste, while using OUTPUT to normalize levels.

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Unison Interactions

When Apollo is in Unison Gain Stage Mode:

  • Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware PREAMP knob.
  • The control is outlined in green, indicating it is available for hardware control.

POWER

The blue power button is the plug-in's bypass control for comparing the processed and unprocessed signal. Press the button to toggle the power state.

In the ON position, the button is lit blue and signal processing is active. In the OFF position, the power button and VU meters are unlit, and the unprocessed signal is heard.

LOW CUT

The Low Cut (high pass) filter for the Mic, Line, and Hi-Z inputs is available via this three position switch. Available filter cutoff values are 120 Hz (right position) and 80 Hz (center position). When set to FLAT (left position), the filter is bypassed.

The Low Cut filter has a gentle slope of 6 dB per octave with minimal phase shift. Low Cut is typically used to eliminate rumble and/or other unwanted low frequencies from the input signal.

Tip: Click the text labels to select a filter setting.

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Unison Interactions

  • Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware filter switch.
  • When toggling the Low Cut filter state with Apollo's hardware switch, the frequency previously set in the plug-in is used.

POLARITY

The Polarity switch affects the Mic, Line, and Hi-Z inputs. When in the 0° (left) position, the input signal polarity is normal. When in the 180° (right) position, the polarity of the input channel's signal is inverted.

Polarity inversion can help reduce phase cancellations when more than one microphone is used to record a single source.

Tip: Click the text labels to select the polarity.

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Unison Interaction

Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware ø switch.

 

PAD

PAD can be engaged to reduce signal levels when undesirable overload distortion is present at low preamp gain levels. When enabled, the input signal level is attenuated (lowered) by 20 dB.

Tip: Click the "0dB" or "-20"text labels to set the value.

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Unison Interactions

  • Software and hardware control is mirrored and bidirectional, and can be adjusted with the plug-in, Console/LUNA software, or Apollo's hardware PAD switch.
  • In Unison mode, PAD is unavailable with LINE and HI-Z inputs.

TRANSFORMER BYPASS

When this switch is in the XFMR IN (right) position, the output signal is routed through the output transformer and the signal is slightly colored. When in the OUT (left) position, the transformer is bypassed and the signal is routed directly to the output.

Tip: Click the "OUT" or "IN"text labels to set the value.

VU METER

The VU Meter displays average signal levels at the output of the plug-in. This meter displays average loudness and does not display signal peaks.

 


 

A Bit About Manley's Preamp Design

(Written by Manley Laboratories)

First we can discuss why outboard mic pre's have become "a must have item" in almost every studio... what is required of a good mic pre? No (obvious) EQ, no compression, nothing elaborate — just basic gain to amplify your microphone. But each preamp, tube or solid state, seems to impart a flavor or color or personality of its own. Some of these flavors are subtle and some are not… it is also partly the mic reacting differently into different circuits.

The all-tube Manley preamp design found in several products is chock full of nice audiophile parts that combine flat frequency response, very high headroom, low noise, and low distortion with a big rich beefy sound. We wind the input and output transformers right here at Manley Labs. The Input Attenuator is cleverly before the tube stage so that it can easily accommodate any reasonable signal level and function like a variable pad. There is also a rotary Gain switch which changes the amount of negative feedback, thus changing the preamplifier's operating characteristics, slew rate and speed (which has an effect on gain, transient accuracy, clipping characteristics, etc), and can be creatively used as a tone control and/or to optimize noise to suit a wide variety of tastes and styles.

Big-time engineers have an array of mic pre's and use them almost like effects — using each for a certain flavor as needed. The rest of us only have the budget for one or two great mic preamps so we tend to choose one that sounds "best", or is priced for us... Manley's preamp design wins most shoot-outs or at least ties with units twice as expensive. It is regularly used by major engineers, in "A" rooms for famous artists and by hundreds of serious musicians in project studios. Most people choose the Manley sound because it sounds "alive" and musical, warm and rich without audible distortion and the instrument sounds like the real thing. What more is there? You probably agree that if more color and personality is needed, then the engineer has EQs and compressors and dozens of digital toys to squeeze that once clean signal through. This is not the main function of a well engineered Mic Pre, however we have included the Gain Control for some subtle differences of taste, style and so-called "tube warmth".

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Original Manley Microphone Preamplifier

All visual and aural references to Manley, and all use of MANLEY's trademarks, are being made with written permission from MANLEY LABORATORIES INCORPORATED. Special thanks to EveAnna Manley.

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