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Manley Labs ELOP+

Dual-channel Compressor By Matt Houghton
Published June 2020

Manley Labs ELOP+

Manley's well-liked optical compressor gets a makeover in time for its 30th birthday!

One of Manley Labs' first products, the ELOP compressor/limiter has proved enduringly popular. It hit the market in the very early '90s, having been conceived before Manley Labs even existed, and remained pretty much unchanged through almost three decades. Like all Manley gear, the ELOP uses vacuum-tube electronics, but in this case, only for the amplification stages — the gain reduction is courtesy of an electro-optical cell. If that sounds a lot like the famous Teletronix LA‑2A, it's no coincidence; Manley make no secret of the fact that the LA‑2A was the inspiration for the ELOP. Construction techniques have evolved over the last few decades, and Manley decided it was high time the ELOP design was refreshed. The result is the ELOP+.

In With The New

The first thing to say, from a user point of view, is that there are more similarities with the original ELOP than differences. It remains a classy-sounding processor that's capable of a lovely, clean, relaxed-sounding compression. It can be 'driven' a bit to coax some flavour out of the tube stages, but the aim is for clean, unobtrusive dynamic control, and to that end, the tube amp stages have bags of headroom. There are still two channels, which can be dual mono or stereo-linked. And general operation is the same: you juggle a peak Reduction knob, which is a threshold control, and a make-up Gain pot. All the knobs have a good feel, with a smooth action. A characteristic of this type of compression is that the ratio and attack/release times are dependent on how much gain reduction is applied, but hold that thought...

The front panel has been restyled to bring it in line with Manley's wider...

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Published June 2020