Manley SLAM! Mastering Version



The Manley SLAM! Mastering Version is a stereo valve limiter designed for mastering applications.

The Manley SLAM! Mastering Version is actually two limiters in one; one Electro-Optical circuit (ELOP) and a really fast FET-base brick-wall limiter both design to provide the flavour of some of the most sought-after limiters keeping their ease of use ethos that have made those compressors highly desirable on vocals.

First is the Electro-Optical (ELOP) limiter which is a firm favourite for tracking vocals. It features a side-chain high pass filter to avoid unwanted rumble to affect the gain reduction. Like many other electro-optical limiters, the SLAM! Mastering edition features 5 ratio settings: 10:1, 5:1, 3:1, 2:1 and a unique Auto HF which starts at 1.5:1 and gradually increases to 10:1 for high frequencies. This works effectively as a De-Esser which can work wonders with the ELOP Side Chain toggle set at 200Hz.

Following the ELOP is Manley’s implementation of the FET Limiter. Extremely versatile, the FET limiter can yield great results from clean and predictable to grungy and distorted. This quality is what made some FET limiters so desirable. By controlling the Release, you can add different colour and behaviour. A CLIP setting lets you add even more crunch and distortion. The attack control works in a very unique way adding some of the characteristics of attack on compressors while retaining a zero-overshoot tolerance found in brick-wall limiters. In the SLAM! Mastering Version, Manley has included some extremely useful features such as 50%, LP Lim, Both and Clip modes. The 50% mode mixes an uncompressed signal with the limited signal giving you all the flavour of the FET limiter but with a much cleaner sound due to the mix. LP Lim focus its limiting in the low frequencies and reduces the gain reduction resulting in a brighter and more present signal. “CLIP” introduces a fixed threshold clipping circuit at around -2dBFS preventing from output overs which would clip in a less musical way once converted in the digital domain.

Metering is taken care of by two real VU metres providing visual feedback on input levels, final output levels and the ELOP gain reduction. The VU Meter features a three-way toggle switch to accommodate for the different levels 0, -3dB and -6dB. FET Gain reduction metering is included in the form of super accurate multi-colour LED Ladder peak meters.

Manley SLAM! Mastering Version DETAILS

GET IN: The SLAM! starts with tube Mic Preamps on both channels with selectable phase reverse, high pass filter, and switchable phantom power (on the back panel).

We’ve got plenty of gain for you in this new tube circuit, up to 60dB with 20dB more in the limiter– plenty for soft singers using low output ribbon mics. The input attenuator is right up front, like a variable pad so your loud rock ‘n’ rollers won’t cause a problem either. Track direct with the Direct Instrument input or bring your line level inputs into the SLAM! for processing. The DI inputs have selectable input impedance, depending on how far you plug the 1/4″ cable into the jack: push it in all the way and the input impedance is 100KOhms, pull it out halfway and it becomes 10 megOhms which reduces pickup loading and allows all the highs to get through. Come on in!

Get it LOUD… two different and distinct limiters per channel:

The ELOP® LIMITER: Our beloved Electro-Optical Levelling Amplifier circuit, the ELOP®, still the favorite for vocal tracking, shows up here with its new switchable side-chain high pass filter making it much more useful for mixes and other tracks as well. One of the most appreciated aspects of our original ELOP® is the simplicity of a two knob limiter, which is optimum for demanding pro recording pressures. You can still grab two knobs and have complete control of level and dynamics and be ready to hit that record button. Intuitive controls and a straight ahead signal path through quality components simply work. The ELOP® limiter implementation is done like we did in our VOXBOX® which pioneered the idea of limiting the mic signal before it hits any active stage. The ELOP limiter moves to the line stage when LINE is selected. The ELOP sidechain provides different HP filters on a toggle. The 200 Hz setting has been tailored for vocals and adds a touch of de-essing.

The FET LIMITER: Here’s a new fast FET based “brick wall” limiter that spans the range of clean predictable limiting to the grunge and gravel that other FET based limiters are desired for. The FET RELEASE control allows you to dial up a variety of colours. There is even a “CLIP” setting that provides as round a shape as has ever been available. (Read more below about the CLIP settings.) We aimed at “sound” first, then experimented with circuits until we heard what we wanted discovering fresh approaches that provide a very wide range of useful dynamic control. For example, you can set up for a fast brick wall limiter with slower releases for minimum artefacts, or go with the faster releases to get some crunch and then get extreme loudness. The Attack control is unusual too providing the sonic control common with its historic brothers but very unusually retaining the zero overshoot “none-shall-pass” brick wall that defines a real limiter. And it’s punchy! As the saying goes, “Louder is better.” The SLAM! optimises levels to analog to digital converters with ballz, warmth and loudness verging on silly or just clean and safe.

What is especially nifty is the ability to use the ELOP® and FET limiters together at the same time dialling in whatever amounts of each effect you like. Every limiter has its own character or sound and here we have combined two powerful world-class tools that can be uniquely blended and mixed to taste and purpose. Even the metering is appropriate for each limiter so you can easily see how each is contributing.

Metering on the SLAM! is exceptional. The two full size real VU meters show you the raw input levels, the final output levels, and the ELOP® Limiter gain reduction in the traditionally preferred format for visually displaying apparent loudness. VU’s are cool. Noticing how mastering engineers often need a switchable pad on their VU’s because the “optimised” levels tend to pin the needles in the red, the SLAM! VU’s also have a 0, -3dB, -6dB switch to help with this situation. There are also very fast and super accurate multi-colour LED ladder peak meters that display the input and output levels and the FET gain reduction, and some combinations. They will do Peak, Peak Hold timed, and Peak Hold until reset, and also allow you to manually set where the individual bars change colours to match your other gear. And with maximum clean I/O levels of +30 dBu, it is a lot more likely you will use these meters to see what’s clipping downstream. It probably won’t be the Manley tube line drivers inside!

The back panel should keep everybody happy. In the sea of jacks including the big power supply connector, you’ll find all the usual XLR’s for transformer balanced I/O and 1/4″ phone jacks for direct unbalanced I/O. Eight Bantam jacks in a mini-patchbay configuration handle the side-chain inserts and linking functions. You can insert EQs into the ELOP® and FET limiters, and there are more jacks for you to mix in an external signal into the side chains. Another pair of jacks provides for easy linking for 5.1 surround work if you have three or four SLAM!’s. It’s all here.


Speaking of Linking… all previous Manley dynamics units require both channels to be setup for near identical settings rather than the more common “just set the Left side”. The SLAM! lets you do it both ways. The “L Side” method is the “STEREO LINK” mode and is quick and convenient but, like others, uses a mono mix for the side-chain. The “BOTH & EXT” adds the rear panel link jacks to the link buss so you could chain up several SLAM!s for linked surround work. Both or all 6 channels should be set similarly. This mode is usually better for mastering as it responds to the true peak level of the channels rather than an artificial mono mix.

Outside the Box, that’s where the power supply is. The illuminated power switch turns on the external power supply. Keeping the power supply far away also keeps additional heat and magnetic fields away from the precious audio. The power supply is housed in a sturdy cast aluminum 7″ x 4″ x 5″ box that is easy to mount to or place in the bottom of a rack. A seriously humongous 16 pin connector, and 6′ multicore cable connects the two boxes.

The Natural Mastering Tool

The SLAM! also seems a natural as a mastering tool. The FET limiter works great on mixes, and the ELOP® now has a high pass filter switch that is spot-on for mastering. We offer a dedicated mastering version which eliminates the mic preamps, adds detented controls replacing the pots, and provides extra metering options. Manley compressors and EQs seem to be the most popular pieces of gear ever when it comes to mastering. The ultimate analog rack for the final important touches to the mix would have include the SLAM!, The Variable Mu® and The Massive Passive. Combine this with some digital processors of similar calibre and one has a respectable and very effective set of mastering tools. That Manley rack plus some Manley Microphones would make an ultimate stereo recording chain too. This is gear you’ll want to keep for a lifetime.


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Additional information

Weight 7 kg


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