ProSound Magazine, Japan
Interview with EveAnna Manley 9/2002
Reprinted with kind permission.
Prosound: What are the main achievements of your new lineup, SLAM? What is the difference compared to the previous version of ELOP?
EveAnna Manley: In late 2000, after we finished the 16x2 Mixer, we started developing what we thought would be a simple update of the ELOP, combined with a micpreamp. We thought the project would take 2 or 3 months and its first name was ELOP II. First Hutch played with revisiting the Vactrol issue to make sure we were using the most appropriate LED/LDR combo. We were. Then he started playing with creating a new FET limiter. The first prototype that we showed at NAMM 2001 was this FET limiter working with the ELOP limiter all as a birds' nest of circuitry jammed in an existing ELOP with different faceplate to hold a few new knobs. Then our new Steelhead phono stage came out and Hutch borrowed the front end idea from it to use for the mic pre section. Still fiddling, the idea came to add LED meters, but not just ordinary ones. A mentor of Hutch and long time friend, Jerry Garzva, was given the job to write thousands of line of code to drive the meters. Then we met these amazing digital people from Switzerland and started working with them to add 24/192 ADC/DAC to the SLAM!. By this time we learned we were not going to be able to fit the power supply inside the box so that went outboard. And on and on it went. A year and a half later, Hutch is still refining it, although now I do think he is working on the Mastering Version of it. The SLAM! is a very intense and complicated piece of equipment. Our most ambitious project to date.
Prosound: Give us an idea of the new converters in the SLAM!.
EveAnna Manley: The most important aspect of a converter for us is how it sounds and these ones give the immediate impression of being fast, musical, warm and fat which are rare qualities for digital converters. We achieve the fast and musical part with upsampling to 192K which also essentially kills jitter. We get the warm and fat part because of the tubes, transformers and parts choices. For example, the A to D converter uses just passive components from the XLR to the converter chip or can alternatively be driven by the tube and limiter circuits. From the A to D chip the digital signal goes to a SHARC DSP that performs the down-sampling, jitter removal, truncation, dither and noise shaping.
Prosound: By looking thru some of the articles on the net, "teamwork" seems to be the key word for your company's success. How do you achieve the demanded level of communication?
I think because most of us at the factory have been working together for a decade or more, it goes beyond communication skills that make our success. We all know each other so well by this time. We are like family. I make the atmosphere welcome for anybody to contribute an idea, even a guy on the assembly line. Everybody contributes. I have immense respect for my workers. They constantly surprise me with their creativity and cleverness. Micromanagement is death to a company. If I try to control everything and do everything we cannot grow. The more I release from my control and give to someone else to do I find they do the job better and more efficiently than I do anyway. It takes humility on my part to see this and trust and respect for my associates to encourage more of this action.
Prosound: What are the things in which you are devoted to most?
EveAnna Manley: I have performed most of the tasks at the factory over the years. Because I spent the most time in testing and Quality Control, I tend to keep our focus on stringent QC and responsive customer service. It is logical. To keep our customers happy is the most important thing. Customers are the ones ultimately supporting our company and assuring our continued success.
Prosound: Recently, the Mixers are catching eyes (ears???) of the engineers here in Japan. What do you think the reasons are?
EveAnna Manley: Well, I have to thank our importer, HookUp, Inc., for getting behind this product so fervently. It is definitely a factor to have an importer who works so hard to show this unit to the people. From there the effects just snowball. Our Mixer is indeed a unique product in the market. There was a need for a product like this.
Prosound: Regarding your 16x2 Mixers, some of them had a blind test, along with other well-know consoles such as Neve, and they found the 16/2 Mixer sounded better than the others. Can you comment something about the Mixer?
EveAnna Manley: It is interesting that with IC's, transformers, and vacuum tubes that we achieved such great sound and that that sound is not just the domain of historic discrete transistor technology. With digital workstations, many people were recognizing the worst weakness was in the mixing down to 2 channels stage. With the Manley 16x2, the engineers can pull out each individual channel and let the Manley mix it down in analog, while still retaining the automation, editing, and plug-in features of the DAW. This seems to make a dramatic difference and this is what everybody is raving about.
Prosound: Manley also makes hi-fi products besides the pro gears. What are the basic concept of these products? Any message to Japanese hi-fi lovers?
EveAnna Manley: Yes, we have been making audiophile products longer than we have been making professional studio gear! I seek the soul and passion in the music to come through. Sometimes when we are developing new hifi gear, we might hit upon a new circuit or new transformer design that measures much better than the old one. Then we listen to it. Sometimes you can have better measurements on the test bench but when listening, the soul is gone. One thing I look for is do I get Goosebumps? Is my toe tapping? These are factors that let me know we have gotten the design right. It is hard to measure "emotion" on the test bench. It is something that must be experienced and felt. If the emotion of the music comes through in this way, then we have got the design right. This is the most advanced part of becoming a trained listener. It is almost like religion.
Prosound: What is the focus of Manley products? Your goal, of your mission?
EveAnna Manley: We are a very different company in that we build many of the internal components at our factory such as metalwork, printed circuit boards, transformers and such. We do all design, assembly and quality control at the factory. Many companies sub-contract out most if not all of their construction. We care too much about our products to do this. The goal is sonic excellence and reliability. And, if something goes wrong, attentive customer support. Many of these things are old fashioned values, and for certain, not something you do if all you are trying to do is get rich quick. We think long-term. We hope all of this equipment is still making people happy and working strong in 50 years. There is no reason why it shouldn't be.
Full name: EveAnna Nicole Dauray Manley
Birthday and birthplace: 9/9/68 Las Vegas, Nevada. I think my mother won me in a slot machine...
Musicians by whom you are influenced most: I must give credit to my High School Band directors Chandler and Stites who fueled my passion for musical creativity and gave me the opportunity to become a leader in the first place.