The Manley Voxbox is an all in one channel strip designed primarily for use with vocals. In terms of characteristics, the Voxbox has XLR connections in the back and has a ¼ inch input in the front in the mic pre section. All signal paths use only valve amplification, and circuits have been carefully designed for optimal signal integrity, combining elements from previous designs but taking them further. The four main sections are mic preamp, compressor, EQ and de-esser. The extremely thick, front panel includes the power switch, accompanied by a Ready L.E.D. that turns on after about 20 seconds when the protection circuitry has done its stuff.

The input section features a locking toggle switch for phantom power, switchable 80Hz and 120Hz bass roll-off, and a phase flip. A front panel instrument jack overrides the rear line input. There is an input pot, and a gain control has five positions (40dB to 50dB). Manley points out that this is not a pad, but controls the amount of negative feedback. At lower settings the sound is more clean and transistor-like. At higher settings a warmer, more ‘valvey’ characteristic is in evidence.

The compressor is highly unusual in that it occurs in the signal path before the mic preamplifier. It has parameters for threshold, attack, release, and a switch to either bypass or to compress at a 3:1 ratio. The attack and release controls each have five positions, and four pairs of time constants provide a high degree of control. Certain settings emulate LA-2A and LA-3A, and the overall character of the unit is smooth and gentle.

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The passive EQ section includes three bands, each with 11 switchable frequencies. However, the High and Low sections are (bell-curve) boost only, and the Mid is cut only, each up to 10dB. There are no ICs, transistors or valves in the EQ section; although a tube circuit follows to makeup gain lost in the EQ and De-Esser sections.

The EQ section is pretty basic, consisting of three bands, each with 11 switchable frequencies. However, the High and Low sections are (bell-curve) boost only, and the Mid is cut only, each up to 10dB. Lastly, the de-esser provides four frequencies which control a sliding filter and a threshold pot that controls another opto-isolator. A fifth setting provides a 10:1 limiter, which is not a perfect brick- wall limiter but rather pleasantly squashes the signal with its opto circuit.

Like most of the gear made by Manley, the Voxbox sounds incredible. The mic pre and compressor are probably the most impressive sections of the unit as far as recording vocals goes, but the EQ and de-esser are no less important and sound great too. This is a versatile enough piece of outboard gear that it can be used for just about any type of voice. Beyond vocals, you can definitely extend the use of this to other applications as well, making it the perfect all in one channel strip for recordings of all types.

Hit us up at (312) 498-9021 to record at our Chicago studio through the Manley Voxbox!

The Manley VoxBox is a high-end, all-in-one channel strip designed for studio and professional audio applications. It’s manufactured by Manley Laboratories, a renowned company in the audio industry known for its high-quality, handcrafted audio equipment. The VoxBox, as the name suggests, is primarily tailored for vocal recording and processing, but it’s versatile enough to be used for a wide range of instruments and audio sources. Here are some key features and components of the Manley VoxBox:

  1. Tube Preamp: The VoxBox features a high-voltage, hand-wired tube microphone preamp, which is known for its warm and vintage sound character. The preamp can provide up to 60 dB of gain and has selectable input impedance settings to accommodate different microphones.
  2. Optical Compressor/Limiter: It includes an optical compressor/limiter, which is a crucial tool for controlling dynamics. The optical circuit is known for its smooth and musical compression, making it particularly well-suited for vocals.
  3. Pultec-Style EQ: The VoxBox features a Pultec-style equalizer with low-frequency boost/cut and high-frequency boost controls. This EQ section allows you to shape the tonal characteristics of the audio source, giving it a rich, vintage vibe.
  4. De-Esser: A built-in de-esser is included to manage sibilance and excessive “s” and “sh” sounds in vocal recordings. It can be fine-tuned to reduce sibilance without affecting the overall sound quality.
  5. Enhancer: The VoxBox also incorporates an enhancer, which is a harmonic generation circuit designed to add subtle harmonics and brightness to the signal, enhancing the source’s presence and clarity.
  6. Comprehensive Metering: The front panel of the VoxBox features LED meters that display gain reduction and output level, providing visual feedback on the dynamics processing.
  7. High-Quality Components: Manley is known for its commitment to using top-quality components in its products, ensuring excellent sound quality, reliability, and longevity.
  8. Phantom Power: The VoxBox provides phantom power for condenser microphones and other relevant features, like phase reversal and a high-pass filter to remove unwanted low-frequency rumble.
  9. Professional Connectivity: It offers both XLR and 1/4-inch instrument inputs, making it suitable for both microphones and line-level sources.
  10. Balanced I/O: The VoxBox features balanced XLR inputs and outputs, maintaining audio signal integrity and minimizing interference.

The Manley VoxBox is considered a high-end, studio-grade channel strip, and it’s often used in professional recording studios and by audio engineers who require top-notch audio quality and versatility in their signal processing chain. Its combination of a tube preamp, Pultec-style EQ, optical compressor, and other features makes it a powerful tool for achieving a warm, vintage sound or clean, transparent audio capture, depending on your preferences and the source material.

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