TUBES ON THE 2-BUSS!
For years a small studio has had two choices. But not really. Does one spend big bucks for a big console or petty cash for a mini mixer with a mini sound? One is overkill and the other killed the music. These days, studios based around workstations need a simple but superb mixer, and many had hoped for it to have that Manley sound. They asked. We responded.
The 16x2 comes in 3 flavors:
1) The LINE version has 16 line inputs, with one aux send per channel. The LINE version is intended for workstations and allows users to avoid the digital mix buss which is often less than great sounding. Folks with huge expensive keyboard rigs who have inexpensive mixers that just ain't cutting it have also been grabbing up the Manley 16x2 LINE version mixers.
2) The MIC version has very low noise mic preamps with up to 60 dB of gain selectable on a rotary switch. The XLR has the appropriate 2400 Ohm impedance for microphones and is set up for 82kOhms input impedance at the 1/4" input jack. (so yes you can run line level signals into it.) The MIC version also has phase reverse and inserts on every channel.
3) The 8+8 version mixes it up, with 8 mic channels and 8 line channels (shown at the top of this page). Great for location recording, keyboard rigs and general purpose tasks. The reviews are coming in stellar!
Above is a rear view of a Manley 16x2 (8+8) Mixer.
The top 1-8 channels are MIC channels. So if you had a 16x2MIC, all 16 channels would look like that with your Direct Outs and Inserts. And your phantom power switching on each bank of four.
The bottom 9-16 channels are LINE channels. They have Direct outs but no Insert as there's nowhere to insert anything in between in a LINE channel...
Note the SOLO binding post for linking bunches of Manley 16x2's together.
Then on the 2-Buss section pictured below here on the left, you have your R&L Main mix outputs, Main and Mini Monitor outputs, Tape Playback L&R monitor inputs, as well as another pair of External Inputs.
And there's your AUX send from the LINE channels....
What's in this thing?
The channel input jack is a Neutrik Combo which accepts XLR or 1/4" phone plugs. It is perfectly happy with either balanced or unbalanced sources. In the MIC version, the XLR has the appropriate 2400 Ohm impedance and switches to 82kOhm input impedance at the 1/4" jacks. There are balanced direct outputs on every channel post fade and pre cut for multi-track recording.
Each channel uses the best sounding chips we know of (Burr Brown INA103, OPA2604, Linear Technology LT1010) in Hutch's circuits with exceptional headroom and very low noise, real pro level input and output levels, and bulletproof Manley quality throughout. Spec-wise know of no mixer ever with better headroom or higher output levels and, well, this mixer's subterranean noise floor and crosstalk figures are simply quite amazing. The signal path has just 3 superb polystyrene caps from input to output. No carbon resistors, just 1/2 watt metal film, Bourns conductive plastic pots, Grayhill stepped attenuators, etc. All the good stuff.
Sorry we didn't make this thing all-tube for "ad appeal" and sales hype. We certainly could have, but this puppy would have grown into the size of a small house, and needed an accompanying 5-Ton AC unit. However, the tube mix amps/line drivers are right at the end and impart that "Manley Sound" to your final outputs with all the richness, loudness and BIG sound you expect from us. Built like a tank and easy to service.
Mutes and Solos use superior relay switching techniques not crummy FETs or CMOS switching. Please! The Solo is of the "mute everything else" type. The buttons are EAO Series 19 and light up to indicate Mute and Solo. Insert and Phase Reverse also use high quality relays and both functions have tiny switches and red LED's to clearly indicate when they're selected.
The master section provides mixdown to 2 channels achieved with similar tube circuits as used in the Massive Passive, featuring two each 12AT7 NOS Phillips & 6414 NOS GE or Raytheon dual triodes. External inputs allow two or more mixers to be combined for 32 or more channels with a mini-banana post linking the Solo functions. There are both transformer balanced and transformerless unbalanced (+4dBm) outputs with tons of headroom. Max output level is +36dBu, about 10dB better than million-dollar consoles. The master section has an aux mix gain (master effects send) in the LINE version and an Ext input gain in the MIC version. There are two sets of monitor outputs, MAIN and MINI, so you can feed two different sets of power amps or powered speakers. We included MUTE and DIM buttons plus a rotary switch to monitor the main mix, the mono mix, 2 track tape playback (more balanced inputs), the Ext inputs (for linked consoles or effects returns), and the aux mix (only on LINE version).
The dedicated power supply unit cranking out all the necessary filtered and regulated DC voltages to power up this beast is external further reducing noise and heat.
Below the optional Rack Mount Faceplate for any of our mixers is shown.
16x2 LINE Version Pictured Below
How they come stock: 3 Basic Flavors
1) Line Version: 16x2 LINE model
XLR/1/4" combo inputs,direct outputs post fader balanced 1/4" One mono Aux mix, stereo Ext input (for linking) (no gain trim), stereo Tape return, Mix gain with both XLR balanced and 1/4" +4 dBm unbalanced outputs. 5 position Monitor select including mono, 2 VU meters, Monitor level, mute, dim and Main/Mini outputs (unbalanced)
Each of the 16 channels has a volume control, pan and aux knobs plus lit EAO solo and mute buttons. Internal jumper to allow Aux to be Pre-Fade, Pre-Mute, or Post-Fade and Mute.
2) Mic/Line Version: 16x2 MIC model
XLR/1/4" combo inputs (XLR is 2400 Ohms, 1/4" is 82 kOhms), direct outputs post fader balanced 1/4", 1/4" insert, stereo Ext input (for linking) (with gain trim), stereo Tape return, Mix gain with both XLR balanced and 1/4" +4 dBm unbalanced outputs. 5 position Monitor select including mono, 2 VU meters, Monitor level, mute, dim and Main/Mini outputs (unbalanced). Master Aux gain of Line version becomes stereo Ext Input gain.
Each of the 16 channels has a volume control, pan and Mic Gain knobs plus lit EAO solo and mute buttons. Mic Gain rotary switch set up for 0db (unity), 15,20,25,30,35,40,45,50,55,60 dB of gain. Each channel has Phase Switch & Insert switch on mini toggles with LED status indicators. Internal jumper to allow Aux to be Pre-Fade, Pre-Mute, or Post-Fade and Mute. 48V Phantom power switch for each bank of 4 channels.
3) 8 Mic Channels and 8 Line Channels. 16x2 8+8 model
Channels 1-8 Mic Inputs are the same as the Mic Version and Channels 9-16 Line Inputs are the same as the Line Version.
So you wanna be different?
Here's a 4-Aux custom puppy we completed 10/2002. His name is 16x2x4.
This 16x2x4 is a 4-AUX-send 16 channels into tubes-on-the-2-Buss Line Mixer. The two microtoggles next to each dual-concentric AUX send select whether that channel's AUX goes to AUX 1, AUX 2, or Both for the lower pot, or AUX 3, AUX 4, or Both for the top pot. Cool huh? And very patriotic... Thanks to GML for letting us borrow some knobs...
The 16x2x4 carries at retail price of $11,500
And here is one like that one with Mic Inputs built in the summer of 2004:
This custom 16x2x4 MIC version was built with a stock 16x2x4 chassis married to two additional panels to hold the gain switches, inserts, and phase reverse switches. They are the ones with the yellow knob inserts. The whole chassis is internally braced and joined so what you see here functions as one complete chassis. This customer also wanted two headphone jacks on the front panel (yes the stock output stage can drive headphones). These headphone out jacks can be wired from after the tube stage to drive headphones, or before it to drive some other headphone amplifier. The four green knobs up top are the four AUX sends master levels.
Cool huh? That one ran about $16,000 bucks.
Here is a custom 24x2 built 9/2004 configured as 16 MIC channels plus 8 LINE channels:
Custom 32x8 Version Built for Rob Strickland at Barking Dog Studios:
Please read the big whoppin' owner's 16x2 manual PDF first and then follow on here for the special features of the 32x8 LINE Mixer:
The 2ch Tube "Main" buss lives behind the vertical top meter section. The other three solid state stereo busses (A, B, & C) occupy all of the cubic volume behind the bottom meter section. So a Manley 8 buss Mixer *has* to be 10U tall regardless of whether it is 16 channels or 32 channels. I suppose we could pack the three other busses into the same area occupied by channels 13-16, but that would require new layouts and a lot of work and leave you with a 12x8 Mixer. So what I am getting at is the 32x8 is your best bet especially as we're a little booked out in our custom department to be getting into any more projects for the time being.
For each channel, buss assignment is done by a three way toggle meaning each channel can only go to one of three of the four busses. For Rob's console seen above, he chose to configure it so that channel 1-24 went to MAIN (the Tube stereo buss), A, or B and channels 25-32 went to MAIN, A, or C. The other mini toggle that's hard to see on each channel is a phase reverse switch. The top meter/monitor section is the same as the stock 16x2 which you can see explained in the owner's manual. The bottom section has a three way toggle to select A, B, or C to be displayed on the bottom meters, three master levels for the A, B, & C buss outs, as well as a master level for the EXT inputs. Finally there are four buttons at the bottom for A, B, C, and EXT subgroups to select them to be blended back into the MAIN tube Buss.
The 32x8 carries a street price of around $25,000 depending on custom options and your dealer. Get in touch with us to explore this semi-custom mixer.
- Channel Input to Mix Output:
- Frequency Response Unity Gain 5 Hz to 100 KHz -1 db
- THD + N Unity Gain (+0 dBu) .05% (-65 dB)
- S/N Output @ +33 dBu 109 dB 22Hz-20KHz
- Noise Floor 22 Hz to 20K -80 dBu typical
- Maximum Gain Mic = +60 dB Mix Gain +10 dB (Mic = 70 dB)
- Maximum Output (Mix Gain +10) +33 dBu Balanced
- Main Buss Vacuum Tubes: 2 x 12AT7 NOS Phillips; 2 x 6414 NOS GE or Raytheon
- Power Consumption (120/240 VAC): 144 watts
- Factory set for 100V, 120V or 220-240VAC operation for original destination country's mains voltage.
- Operating Mains Voltage changeable with power transformer primary switch and fuse value change.
- Mains Voltage Frequency: 50~ 60Hz
- 16x2 Mixer: 19" x 8.75" x 6.25" (occupies 5U)
- PSU: 13" x 3.5" x 11.5" (rack mount kit available)
- Shipping Weight: 38 lbs with PSU
Specifications subject to change because they just might.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What's in this thing?
Each channel uses the best sounding chips we know of and circuits with exceptional headroom and very low noise, relay switching rather than FETs or CMOS, real pro level input / output levels and Manley quality throughout. Spec-wise know of no mixer ever with better headroom and output levels and the noise floor is quite respectable (but not the absolute lowest we have ever seen) but it does seem to have the lowest crosstalk and leakage we know of. It has just 3 superb polystyrene caps from input to output. No carbon resistors, just 1/2 watt metal film, conductive plastic pots, stepped attenuators etc.
And what about the vacuum tubes?
We don't put in a tube per input channel as might be expected for 'ad appeal' and sales hype. We certainly could, but a proper and effective circuit would require at least two tubes per channel (like our other products) which begins to look like 36 tubes total. Of course this approach would be way hotter (temperature not sound), way bigger and would require a rather huge power supply to light up the 34 glowing tube filaments and it would be a little noisy for 24 bit digital besides being rather expensive. However, the stereo mix amps / line drivers are standard Manley tube circuits, with high quality pro input and output transformers and it certainly provides that 'Manley Sound' with all the richness, loudness and, dare we say, "warmth" you expect from us.
Why did you build it?
The 16/2 Mixer is intended for a variety of applications that require more focus on sound quality than less expensive “knobs and features per dollar” alternatives or larger and far more expensive desks. It simply answers the questions of “ how to get real professional results without mortgaging the house or resorting to hobbyist gear and/or questionable sounding DSP mixers”. Good old Analog Mixing plus the benefits of Manley tube circuits.
What do I use it for?
It seems there are plenty of different applications. Some use it as a great keyboard mixer for recording, thus avoiding wrecking the quality of $20K worth of keys with a sub $1K mixer and/or avoiding latency or sonic issues of mixing in DAWs. Some use it for mixing DAW tracks through multiple DACs for the sonic benefits of analog mixing without the cost of major control rooms. Of course, a good mixer is key. Some are using it for semi-portable or location recording where the end product needs to be better than "hobbyist" quality. Others use it for a broadcast console for WWW radio stations. And others need a high quality monitor console to be confident of their work and what they are listening to or through. They find that they need less processing when they hear the pure tracks and spend less time fixing non-issues caused by monitor electronics. Funny, the same holds true for using good mics at the opposite end of the chain. I've got a ProTools rig. Do I need the Manley 16x2 line mixer?
Unless you need Mic Preamps, the 16x2 Line Version will be the best choice. You can use the +4 XLR outputs from the 888 directly into the mixer, or through a patchbay, if inserts and effects are an issue.
Apparently, this set-up has a startling improvement in audible clarity, air, resolution and, in general terms, sounds musical rather than digital. ProTools has one of the strongest individual channel processing capabilities with all the TDM plugs available, plus automation and its own mix busses. Many users report significant sonic benefits by using multiple DACS to feed a good analog mixer. They mix and automate to sub-groups or stems and for the most part, the analog mixer controls may not even be used except to set basic sub-group levels. And, yes, some have asked for a no-knob version but the cost difference is not worth getting excited about. Apparently these engineers report greatly increased "air" resolution and solid imaging.
We expect similar reports from guys who move a similar number of channels from some digital desks to analog. There has been some speculation why this seems to be advantageous, including technical issues with older DAW software & hardware, resolution improvements of one DAC versus many, analog characteristics of low level distortions, or clipping, or iron saturation, but whatever the reason, it seems to help a lot, and worth a try if you can do it.
Certainly some DACs tend to clip early, some tend to smear in the time domain, and some are jitter sensitive and we can expect some improvements as these issues are improved or multiple DACs are used to "average out" the problems. We can tell you that we hear analog quality not as a simplistic matter of adding some distortion or removing some measurable distortion, but like most musical qualities, is more a matter of how much, when and where but more importantly, how little, when not, and where not. For example we aim for +30 dBu through the mixer, which shows what we think of clipping in general and particularly when its not asked for. "Taste" may be difficult to quantise in numbers or for that matter digits.
One client told us, that combo very much impressed Michael Jackson's engineer and that it kills much more mix pricey alternatives , and it is a 50/50 choice whether to use vintage Neve modules/console or the 16x2. Gotta like that comment.
Wow, You offer custom options? What I want is the 16x2 with 3 or 4 aux sends and some sort of digidesign interface so that level and panning controls can work with protools automation while the signal remains analog 100% or fantasy # 2 more reasonable, a pair of 16x2 with 2 aux sends per channel plus panning plus the pultec eq built in on the master stereo strip, still in rack mount form....?
We can make anything you want but the catch is, you gotta pay the Research and Development and test time for the engineering staff for a custom built unit. The unaffordable other brand mixers you mention are at least built with some form of mass appeal and these costs are spread amongst the first few hundred customers. We could build a mixer as you describe but it would be way easier to just add the auxes to an existing design, and for you to use your existing Stereo Pultec or get another or a Massivo. This way we don't have to design another chassis, power supply and redesign the tube mix amps for the EQ. And by easier, translate that to "less costly". This would be a single 10U chassis with micro toggles to select the 3 auxes. We even have a few chassis made.
We are building a number of custom mixers and even the basic mixer design started off as a custom order. There is 32x8(+1 aux), 16x4(+1 aux), on top of a confusing array of standard variations we planned for, and detailed on this website. Seems, everybody wants something a bit different. All it takes is money and patience, from them, and a lot of effort and thought toward details from us. We would probably modify another guy's custom job (for a 32x8 mixer), change some engraving and use the extra busses for auxes. Not sure whether we would have to design new daughter boards or could modify some existing ones. - EveAnna can give you the exact price once that is decided, but it will be at least $22K as described (without the EQ), maybe $26K including an external Massivo (package price), and at least $30K for the Pultecs built in - see what happens when we factor in design time - costs more than the individual pieces. Hopefully it does more, but not much in this case. BTW, separate external EQ at least allows you to patch the EQ as needed rather than have it permanently across the buss - which may be just a funny passing fad, of the last 3 years. Some rather sweet reviews of the 16x2 will be appearing in the trades in the next few months - good reading.
Custom units tend to take 4 to 5 months from when we get a 50% deposit to when they are delivered. They are typically significantly more costly than off-the-shelf products. The reason people order them is that nothing similar actually exists and they need it for the type of work they do, which is typically unique or rarified enough that, generally, factories have not aimed products to them, like mastering or audiophilia recording. We like helping those artists, but the gov't won't let us do it as a charity deduction. Wanna buy a $60K surround mastering console?
I only want 8 channels. Can you build me an 8x2 for half the price of a 16x2?
We get this request all the time to do an 8x2. We make 16+channel mixers. The metalwork is set up for 4 banks of 4. The mainframe is set up to occupy 5RU. We know you guys really just want 8 channels for less than half the price of 16. Ain't gonna happen.
We can provide a Manley 16x2 with 8 of the channels (two banks of 4) loaded with blank inserts. This would only bring the retail price down to somewhere around $7K for the line version. For that expense plus $2K more, you might as well get all 16 channels. At this stage we cannot re-design this product to be a 3RU 8x2. Maybe someday we will get to that, and we kinda plan to, but for now, re-laying up all the boards and all the metalwork is not something we have time or resources available to do, right now.
Can I run LINE signals into the MIC XLR inputs on a MIC version?
Well, you should run them into the 1/4" jack which is meant for LINE signals. On the XLR inputs - I hope you are aware that most mics pretty much are designed for low impedance loads like 2400 Ohms, and most line inputs are 20,000 Ohms or higher. This is why we used a "combo jack" so that the difference in impedances can be optimum for both mics and line signals. To make a long story short, if you want, we can set the XLR impedance for 80K too, but don't bitch if some mics sound wierd. This is fine if you just intend the mixer for line inputs. The "mod" is the deletion of 1 resistor. On the other hand most pro gear (effects) will have no problem driving 2400 Ohms (except some might be loaded by less than a dB) so, if it were me, I would stay standard there and if I ran into a loading problem just use the 1/4" jacks. Up to you.
Also, we assume that you are aware that there is very little difference in circuits between the mic and line version. We add a stepped resistor switch to control the gain of the SAME input stage, and we add a relay and chip that allows Inserts.
Is it possible to build a 16x2 Line version with an insert point on the buss? (To insert a Manley Variable Mu® of course.)
No because there's nowhere we can insert into in that part of the circuit, but here is your work-around:
Run a set of the Main Mix outputs of the mixer into your compressor and then run the output of the compressor into two places at once with a Y-Cord or splitter: Run it back into the mixer via the EXT (external) inputs so you can monitor off that. Use the other output off your Y-Cord to drive your recorder. Alternatively you can monitor off the recorder instead of in the mixer. The only bad thing about doing it this way is that when you use the master fader to fade down, the compressor isn't following the fade.
Why can't I have ALL balanced XLR jacks on the outputs instead of only 1 balanced and 3 unbalanced sets?
Now regarding balanced and unbalanced outputs. All the main outputs whether they are XLR or 1/4" TRS are 3 connector jacks and are +4dBu and will drive balanced or unbalanced lines the same because we "balance" the output impedances. The two true balanced floating outputs are achieved with transformers. I hope you not thinking that unbalanced is:1) a lower level like -10 dBv for hi-fi, consumer or semi-pro, 2) Can't drive into balanced inputs, 3) might require some tricky cables to drive balanced inputs. Many people are confused now that the semi-pro gear is so common and most of it "equates" unbalanced with lower consumer standard levels. A lot of unbalanced inputs and outputs on semi-pro gear is -10 dBv, but unbalanced really refers to is wires and has nothing to do with levels. Manley uses full +4 dBu levels on its outputs whether they are balanced or unbalanced and the unbalanced outputs have balanced impedances which means "no hum or RF compromises".
So we can wire the MAIN 1/4" jack to be parallel with the XLR easily but you lose the ability to bypass the transformer, which in some situations where you are looking for a more audiophile sound, might be a good thing. We can't wire the monitor outputs to be balanced BUT as stated above, they are designed to fully drive balanced inputs, long cables and will even drive 50 Ohm headphones. If you really NEED true balanced outputs on the monitor jacks, expect to add another $1500 to the price, but methinks it would be a waste of money.
Hope this helps.
Is is possible to mod the awesome 16x2 for 5.1 mixing??
It depends on how you define 5.1 mixing and depends on the customer's requirements & expectations......
We developed a 6 way buss pair of cards for the 32/8. We could use them but these are solid state. There is no room to do 6 mix buss amps with tubes. This would be fairly easy and very similar in price. There is no monitoring function on those cards and it would have to be dome externally (including solo). The 32/8 also has the tube boards for stereo monitoring functions.
The other big consideration is channel panning. We have ONE stereo pan pot and possibilities for a 3 way switch for buss assign.
At AES somebody suggested another approach. Just build the mixer with 8 channels and use ProTools own 5.1 automated panning. This opens the bottom section up spacewise for buss amps or auxes. This is interesting and possible but then requires design time and a good number of months to get built especially when there is so much else on our plates right now. There is simply no way to give it priority treatment at the moment. This would also be costly in terms of engineering time, and certainly have to be charged at 'custom rates'. This is kind of a bad time to be asking us for 'custom' when we have 8 new products announced to be designed and delivered in 2004. We are turning away almost all such projects mostly by quoting a price based on what we expect to lose by taking them on. We are not a big operation with many engineers, and this approach could take up to 2 months of my time. In previous years this was easier to do.
Not that this helps, but we did hope to design a surround version of the 16/2 but we have only had a few requests so it seemed unwarranted. Where we have seen enough requests, we tried to design solutions. This one is rare.
How to change the meter lamps on these things: (newer units since 9/2003 or after serial number #140 and up have LEDs that shouldn't need to be changed!)
Replacing the meter lamps in the Manley 16x2 Mixer:
Assure the power is OFF and the unit is UNPLUGGED before beginning.
1.- Using a 3/32" allen key, unscrew the three stainless-steel cap head screws that hold the meter/monitor section's black engraved panel insert .
2.- Using a 1/16th allen key, loosen the two set screws that secure each knob. Remove the 4 knobs. Using a 1/2" nut driver or crescent wrench, remove the 4 panel nuts that hold these three pots and the rotary switch.
3.- Now you can pull the black engraved insert panel away from the tube boards.
4.- On earlier models, remove the 2 screws that hold the meter lamp at the rear of the white plastic light box housing and replace the bad lamp.
5.- On later models:
a. Unscrew the tip of the locking power switch toggle. Using a 5/16" nut driver or adjustable crescent wrench, remove the power switch securing nut.
b. Using a 3/16" nut driver or small pair of needle nose pliers, remove the 4 brass nuts that hold the meters to the meter printed circuit board.
c. Now you can pull off the printed circuit board away from the rear of the meters and replace the bad lamp.
This 12V lamp is provided to us from Sifam with the meters. It is not a commonly available part. Please contact the Manley parts department to order meter lamps.
Installation is the reversal of removal.