JAKE SINCLAIR GETS SIGNATURE SOUND WITH MANLEY ELOP+
Los Angeles CA - Jake Sinclair is a busy man: The GRAMMY-nominated producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist recently produced new records for Sia, Weezer, and Fall Out Boy, while simultaneously crafting his side project, Alohaha. Staying busy is nothing new for Sinclair, though; the 31-year-old's long list of credits includes such luminaries as Taylor Swift, P!nk, Train, and 5 Seconds of Summer. Typical of today's producers, he runs his studio off a laptop in a room filled with instruments, a few preamps, and his prized Manley ELOP+ stereo electro-optical tube compressor/limiter - and not much else.
The ELOP+ is a completely re-engineered version of Manley's coveted early 1990s-vintage ELOP stereo electro-optical limiter. The ELOP+ uses the company's highest-performance tube line amplifier and White Follower output stage and relies on a high-voltage switching power supply designed specifically for Manley vacuum tube audio circuits. The "+" also adds a 3:1 compression ratio for greater versatility.
Sinclair wires his two-channel ELOP+ as two separate compressors. One side is the last piece in his vocal chain. The other? "I use the other channel for bass as a tracking compressor, and I go pretty squishy with it," he explains.
While he respects the old classic optical compressors, to Sinclair's ears, most of the newer models leave something to be desired-except the ELOP+. "I've tried all of the opto-style compressors," Sinclair affirms, "and the Manley is by far my favorite. It's every bit as good as the classic compressors. With a lot of newer opto compressors, as you get past 3 to 5 dB of compression, you start to lose some top end, and it suffocates the sound. But I can put the ELOP+ in Limit mode, keep the filter off, and get a good 5 to 7 dB of compression without losing any high-end tone."
That's especially important because Sinclair doesn't go easy on the compression. "I'm a really guilty overcompressor," he laughs. "It's part of the fun! It's an effect and it also changes the way singers perform. When they're singing, I apply the compression I intend to use in the final mix. I'd rather track it the way it's going to be because the singer can react to it, and you get a different performance."
To do that, it would seem, you need a compressor that can sound transparent. "Yeah," Sinclair agrees, "and you get that signature sound that we've heard on millions of records; the ELOP+ just nails it." The result, he says, is an airy vocal that sounds like it's supposed to. "EveAnna Manley described the ELOP+ as just a volume knob," he muses, "but it's more than that for me. There's some kind of tube-y glueness!"
Sinclair has reduced his use of tube devices in recent years but you'll never get his ELOP+ away from him. "Except for microphones, the ELOP+ is the only piece of tube equipment I still have," he admits. "Tube preamps aren't for me. But I will always have an ELOP+."