Manley Labs are calling Core, their brand new channel strip, a 'greatest hits' release because it brings together new and existing technologies from the company's stable of products. The Core is specifically intended to be musician-friendly to fit into today's landscape of long-distance collaboration and remote sessions, where musicians are becoming more and more responsible for recording music.
In order to fulfil its key aim, the Core has a very straightforward front-panel layout and while most of Manley's other gear is priced for the pro studio, the Core is priced at $2250. This makes it the most cost-effective way of having a Manley recording path in your studio - less than half teh price of their Voxbox.
To make it even more suitable for the project studio, the Core employs a compressor with a fixed 3:1 ratio before the preamp, rather than after it. According to Manley, this makes it virtually impossible to overload the mic preamp. The preamp itself is a Class-A tube design which is also taken from the Voxbox and this features a Manley Iron input transformer. The direct input is very similar to the DI in the Manley Slam! which is an all-discrete solid-state circuit with 10 Meg Ohm input impedance, suitable for guitars, basses and keyboards.
Even though it's intended to be easy enough for a beginner to use, it still has enough functions that it would also feel perfectly at home in a project studio operated by a pro engineer. The EQ is a new solid-state design for the company and has high and low Baxandall shelves as well as a sweepable midrange bell EQ with a range that can be switched between 100Hz - 1kHz and 1kHz - 10kHz.
To round off the end of the signal path is a fast but fixed-attack FET 'brickwall' limiter with continuously variable threshold and release controls and an output gain control with a 10dB range.
Internally, Manley Labs have moved to a switched-mode power supply to reduce noise and make it compatible with whatever power supply you have in your country. It is set to ship in April and we'll bring you a review as soon as we can get our hands on one.