The new CORE reference channel strip by Manley has a lot of excited for the 2014 year of music equipment. Stated by a few to rival their infamous VoxBox, their newest channel strip comes in at half the price and is basically on it’s level in terms of capabilities. We think the CORE is Manley’s slight shift into more affordable pieces of mixing equipment, particularly aimed for those with smaller setups.
Main features of the Manley CORE
With the CORE, they’ve kept the compressor-into-preamp topology. It’s basically a combination of mic preamplifier, compressor, limiter, and equalizer. In particular, the tube mic/line preamp, very high-quality transformer and three bands of EQ at only $2k help this channel strip stand out from a lot of competitors out there. More and more musicians are beginning to collaborate long-distance and with remote sessions, so Manley wanted to take that into consideration when crafting the CORE (people with smaller setups as opposed to huge studios who can afford to drop $4k on a channel strip).
Here are some of the standout features of the Manley Labs CORE:
- Tube mic preamp (48V phantom power)
- DI input
- IRON transformers
- Three bands of high-sounding EQ
- Optical compressor
- Fast FET limiter
- Made in California (hand crafted)
It has a pretty straightforward front-panel layout we’re typically familiar with in Manley’s products. At retail $2,250 (street price around $2,000), it’s very cost effective if you’re looking to add a reliable channel strip to your setup. Front panel controls include: 48V phantom power switch, 120Hz highpass filter switch, input attenuator variable pad, phase invert switch, pre-selectable mic gain (40 or 60 dB, total gain > 70 dB), and lastly, a line amp pre-selectable gain.
The compressor has a fixed 3:1 ratio before the preamp instead of after, stated to make it impossible to overload the mic preamp. Taken from the VoxBox you have the Class-A tube design. Almost identical, but half the price. What really makes Manley standout from others are the builds of the devices. These are incredibly solid.
One of the cons with this is that the sections are not independent. The micpre, EQ, compressor or limiter cannot be accessed separately via the ins and outs of the rear of the unit. This is how they’re able to make the CORE affordable. Whether or not this is important is up to you to decide.