All-tube signal path
Since the late 1980s, Manley has been steadily focused on crafting premium, all-tube gear. In short, Manley really knows tubes — and they bring their considerable expertise in tube circuit design to bear in the VOXBOX. This USA-made channel strip boasts all-tube, Class A vacuum tube circuitry, alongside the exceptional robust build quality we expect from Manley.
Full-featured mic preamp section
True to its name, the Manley VOXBOX is packed with a superb microphone preamplifier section. In fact, the preamp design is derived from Manley’s popular Mono Microphone Preamplifier, giving you all the essentials for superior analog tone — whether you’re inputting signal via the balanced mic input, the balanced line input, or via the 1/4″ front-panel instrument input. Onboard, high-current 48V phantom power is switchable from the front panel and an effective 3-position highpass filter switch lets you roll off at 80Hz or 120Hz to eliminate rumble. Finally, a clever 5-position gain switch lets you control how much negative feedback is introduced, so you can achieve a wide range of drive levels and slew rates. Change tube tonal flavors quickly and easily as you dial in everything from laid back and mellow to up-front and aggressive — it’s a great way to get creative and track down the perfect sound for each vocalist or instrument.
Manley borrowed features from both their best-selling Variable MU and the opto-isolator-based ELOP (Electro-Optical) limiter to develop the VOXBOX’s all-star compressor section. Manley also figured out a way to compress the signal before it hit the tubes — without adversely affecting distortion or frequency response. What this means for the VOXBOX, is that it can both prevent mic-pre clipping as well as eliminate entire stages of electronics, cutting your microphone’s typical path in half — a huge advantage. Manley also pioneered a sidechain design, developing a “Parametric Compression” technique of using up to four different time constants simultaneously and controlling them with simple attack, release, and threshold controls. The VOXBOX’s onboard presets are based on the Light Dependent Resistors of their fast ELOP limiter, the quick LA-2A, the slower LA-3A, and various other complex and finely Manley-tuned settings. In all, you can expect fresh sounds from the VOXBOX compressor — perfect for drums, bass, vocals, and more. In fact, it’s even a great compressor to send entire mixes through — just link up two VOXBOX units.
Manley took their Pultec-style Mid Frequency Equalizer up a few notches when they added it to the VOXBOX. It’s now extended to 33 frequencies across three bands, so it offers six new frequencies from 20–150Hz as well as six new frequencies from 6.4–20kHz. With real inductors and Class A circuitry, the VOXBOX’s Equalizer is set to serve up that magical sound. An EQ input switch lets you patch in the line input, preamp output, or insert return. The switch also acts as a bypass switch for the preamplifier or external processors, for processing two different tracks.
De-esser and Limiter section
The VOXBOX’s de-esser and limiter section gives you even more flexibility with the source. The peak limiter is based on the ELOP limiter design, and Manley added a passive LC network to take care of the de-essing. There are four carefully chosen notch frequencies — 3kHz, 6kHz, 9kHz, and 12kHz — to tame problematic frequencies. Plus, a fifth position offers up an LA-2A-style limiter — compress pre-EQ, then limit post-EQ. You can also seamlessly and smoothly insert the de-esser as the music plays, so you only use it where you need it.
Switchable VU meter
The Manley VOXBOX is packed with a full-size, illuminated Sifam VU meter. An included 5-position switch lets you switch between monitor line input, preamp output, and final output audio levels as well as compressor gain reduction and de-esser/limiter action.
Manley gave the VOXBOX a few clever extras, including warm-up muting circuitry that you can bypass using an internal switch, making the VOXBOX perfect for both the studio and the stage. Other welcome additions include extensive magnetic field containment, smart grounding, and silent switching. All things considered, the Manley VOXBOX is a signal processing tour de force, and deserves serious consideration if you’re looking for an ultra-versatile reference-grade channel strip.
Manley VOXBOX Channel Strip Features:
- 5 Manley transformers, nickel laminated, mu-metal casings
- 2K ohm Mic input, high-current 48V Phantom power
- Mic preamp gain: 40–60dB
- hi-Z (100k ohm) DI instrument input
- Line and Insert inputs (balanced XLR, 1/4″)
- Preamp and EQ outputs (balanced XLR, 1/4″)
- Transformer-balanced XLR outputs
- Transformerless unbalanced 1/4″ outputs
- Stereo Link for Compressor and De-esser/Limiter
- Side Chain Monitor for De-Esser
- Large illuminated Sifam meter with 5 readout modes
- THD + N (1kHz @ +20dBu): 0.3%
- Maximum output: +31dBu
- Rugged 3U rackmount chassis
- Dimensions: 19″ x 5.25″ x 10″