We check out a modern take on Manley’s classic valve compressor.
Developed to deliver transparent, fast and punchy audio without losing the characteristic sound qualities of their much‑admired Variable Mu stereo compressor, Manley’s Nu Mu retains the transformer‑balanced inputs and valve‑based gain controls of its ancestor. It employs discrete, solid‑state electronics, powered by the proprietary high‑voltage, low‑noise, switch‑mode power supply that Manley have used in most of their recent products. This allows the Nu Mu to achieve its design objectives for a lot less money than the Variable Mu.
With the two channels’ controls laid out in mirror‑image fashion, on black backgrounds set into the blue‑anodised 2U fascia, the Nu Mu’s look is pure Manley. However, a central, blue‑lit, analogue, twin VU meter with opposing needles lends a practical, and strikingly different, dimension to the company’s signature aesthetic.
A blue LED inside the front‑panel power switch glows faintly when mains power is present and brightens up when the Nu Mu is switched on, but powering up the Nu Mu is an exercise in delayed gratification. It takes approximately 30 seconds to power up and during this time the meter’s backlight pulses to indicate that the audio outputs are muted. Once the power‑on procedure has been completed it switches to a steady glow, but being a valve device, the Nu Mu can take another 10‑15 minutes to fully warm up; you can tell when that’s been achieved, as the gain‑reduction meters will settle precisely...