Manley Labs ELOP+ Stereo Limiter Compressor
Since the early 1990’s, the Manley ELOP® stereo electro-optical limiter has been a tracking hero - effortlessly controlling dynamics on countless records around the globe and delivering the coveted classic, all-tube sound for which Manley Labs is known. This LA-2A type unit allows for deep amounts of limiting without loss of high frequencies: it literally works (and sounds) like a changing volume control.
The original was super easy to use, with supremely natural sound, and has often been the perfect choice for superstar vocals.
So how do you improve on something this good?
The original Stereo ELOP®, or Electro Optical Limiter, was one of the first Manley products from the early 1990’s. With its through-hole printed circuit board construction and hours of tedious hand-looming, it sure looked like 1992 inside the chassis.
The unit was scrubbed for buildability, embracing modern production techniques. Importantly, the power supply was upgraded to Manley's proprietary universal voltage Switch Mode Power Supply, which lowered the noise level and made the unit a true world-traveler.
We've also added a 3:1 compression ratio feature which opens up the doors to greater versatility, especially for 2-buss applications. With careful reference to our sonic past, we have deployed our highest performance vacuum tube line amplifier and White Follower output stage in this new version, all housed in a build-efficient chassis behind a drop-dead gorgeous precision-CNC-milled faceplate - all proudly made in America, of course. The new Manley ELOP+ is everything you love about our legendary ELOP, plus!
"I've tried all of the opto-style compressors, and this is by far my favorite. It's every bit as good as the classic compressors."
1. GAIN CONTROL. Available on L and R channels. Adjusts the gain of the audio channel, with unity at about the 7th marking (1 o'clock). Limiting usually requires some make-up gain to compare IN / BYPASS. The Gain control can also be used as the level to tape.
2. REDUCTION CONTROL. Available on L and R channels. Reduction adjusts the amount of limiting or compression in that channel. This could also be called "threshold". Turning this control clockwise increases the amount of limiting or compression.
3. VU METER. One for each channel, showing the gain reduction in dB when switch #7 is deselected, and showing output level in dB when switch #7 is engaged and illuminated.
4. HP SC CONTROL. Inserts a high-pass filter into the sidechain circuit, reducing the amount of compression or limiting below 80 Hz. Note: this filter is changeable to 150 Hz via an internal jumper. See the manual for details.
5. IN / BYPASS CONTROL. If the switch is engaged & illuminated, audio will pass through the limiter / compressor circuit and all front panel controls will function. If the switch is disengaged, audio still flows through the tubes in the unit, but at Unity Gain with no compression or limiting.
6. COMPRESS / LIMIT CONTROL. This switch allows the ELOP+ to use two different compression ratios. Offering either compression at approximately 3:1 when the switch is engaged and illuminated, or limiting at approximately 10:1 when the switch is disengaged.
7. METER SELECT. Allows the user to monitor either Gain Reduction (switch engaged & illuminated) or Output of the unit (switch disengaged).
8. POWER SWITCH. Glows a soft amber color when an IEC power lead is connected to the unit. This indicates that the ELOP+ is in STANDBY mode. Engaging the switch takes the ELOP+ out of standby mode and into warm-up mode (flashing VU meters, brighter amber switch). This lasts 30 seconds, after which the MUTE relays will lift and the VU meters will stop flashing.
9. LINK / STEREO FUNCTION. When the LINK switch is engaged and illuminated, the ELOP+ applies the same amount of gain reduction to both the L and R channels. This is done to prevent image shifting that can occur if each channel is compressed individually. We suggest that when in LINK mode both channels have controls set the same. Please see the ELOP+ manual (below) for more details.
- 10:1 Limiter and 3:1 Compressor ratios
- All-tube audio path uses 5751 and 6922 dual triodes
- Balanced Manley IRON® transformer-coupled XLR Inputs
- XLR impedance-balanced outputs
- BYPASS switches and AUTOMUTE with warm-up delay
- Large illuminated VU meters read Gain Reduction or Output levels
- STEREO LINK
- Side-Chain High-Pass Filter
- Universal internal power supply operates worldwide 90-250V~AC 50/60Hz
An ELOP+ story from EveAnna Manley:
"You guys all know Ross Hogarth! Well, he was one of our original ELOP users. He has had his Manley ELOP for at least 20 years and he uses it daily. So of course he was the best guy to work with to make a new ELOP. So we took units back and forth to Ross so that he could compare the new creation with his vintage reference one.
At first, he returned the first one and declared it was way too grabby. So we implemented a testing and batching regime in order to select the VACTROLS to fall into a narrow range similar to his unit. The VACTROL is the brand name for the element we use that has the LED and the LDR - that is, Light Emitting Diode, or light source, and Light Dependent Resistor. This unit works like an LA-2A where the light source makes a resistor change its value and it is configured as a simple voltage divider or volume control. That is why this type of limiter is so clean, as it is working just like you were turning the volume control or moving a fader up and down. You do not get all the complex distortion products like you do with tube limiters, or FET limiters, other units that have an active element changing its gain.
So then after we got the attack and release and timing constants to match his cherished unit, we then worked on the tonality of the unit, and Ross had a complaint about the bass. So he gave the beta testing unit back to EveAnna and she knew exactly what to do. She removed the output transformers from the new unit and gave it back to Ross transformerless. Because his old unit was transformerless! And BLAM. That was the magic. Solid punchy bass once again.
Manley really worked on referencing the original vintage sound of the early ELOPs, the ones that have made so many hit records. And they nailed it with Ross Hogarth’s help."