Manley Massive Passive Stereo Tube EQ Close Window  

Bob Ludwig wrote:

I think it is a matter of the Massive being a wonderful adjunct to any other equalizer one is happy using. I've got [three well-respected brands] mastering eq's, [well-respected brand] double sampling dig eq's as well as some other less-used guys floating around. I've found the Massive to be simply a unique equalizer that does some things (most things!) better than anything I have ever heard. It would be silly to have it as one's only equalizer in a professional mastering lab as there are some surgical things one must do from time to time that the Massive wasn't designed to do.

I was doing a new Tom Tom Club record today (Tina and Chris originally from The Talking Heads were here) and the Massive was put to excellent use. It was an all ProTools recording and the Massive made it sound very warm.

And additionally 12/2005:

"I just counted at least 21 different equalizers I have at my disposal here at Gateway Mastering. I want you to know that the Massive Passive is the most used of all these eq's. It's totally unique sound makes it suitable for a very wide range of musical styles from hip-hop to classical."

"When product design is a passion rather than an exercise it captures the creative elements of the human spirit. The Massive Passive has a soul"

James Mercs
Senior Vice President
SONY Pictures Entertainment

Hi EveAnna,

Thank you for running a company that allows time and money to be spent on R&D in order to develop such things as the Massivo. What a superb EQ!

I've did the usual rounds on Gearslutz to get general opinions before trying & buying. You get comments like "The top end is harsh" or "The bottom end is no good". I've been using audio gear now for over 20 years and while I wouldn't claim to be the world greatest sound engineer I'd like to think I know what I'm hearing. What are these guys listening to when they hear "Harsh"? Its the sweetest thing I've ever used, and if I weren't several thousand miles away in England and already spoken for, I be asking you to marry me! Seriously though this is a fantastic piece of gear.

Gary at Sable Marketing looked after me well, and also supplied me with one of your wonderful shirts, and yes, I wore it at the gig I played last weekend (I'll get some pics next time for you website lol!).

Thanks again and keep producing great gear.



Steve Eaton

Dear miss Manley
RE: my new massive passive.

Holy fuck that sound good.

(and you can quote me on that)


Hi Eva

I have just brought a mastering slam and am running it after a massive passive and I cant believe the sound its amazing I opened up a protools session that was recently mastered by a kick ass mastering guy in Wellington New Zealand He used some out board gear and waves mastering plug ins etc

I spent about 10 mins with the massive and slam using no plug ins and got a sound that left his one for dead My song that I once thought was sounding ok now sounds like a million bucks it totally slams It sounds louder than his one even without brick walling it It has way more punch and simply much better to listen to

Awesome gear



from Tuesday, March 06, 2001:

My local mastering engineer recently added the Manley M.P. to his analog chain. It was interesting watching him twiddle the knobs (ever so slightly) as we A/B'd the process to my original tracks - and even more so to listen to his explanation of how each band effects the others - while simultaneously attempting to cruise the manual. What a design this this is !!

I don't often get the chance to use this type of gear, but spending a full 2 days watching my mixes go through a Massive Passive and a Vari-Mu (with zero deflection) on their way to Sonic Solutions was most informative. Basically all we needed to do was remove a bit of sibilance - which his ears and skills were able to accomplish quickly - but I remained amazed at how many tweaks had to take place in several of the bands to accomplish the goal, yet my mix still seemed to remain virtually untouched.

Scott D.'s ears are certainly more refined than mine, but I'd say the device was virtually inaudible until it was called into play for a specific purpose. Only then could I really hear the unit, but doing only what was called for on some very specific, pinpointed areas. I never really figured out how or why the controls were so very interconnected - which means a small learning curve would be in store - but the effectiveness and, to me, the transparency of the device was unquestionably positive. (The Vari-Mu was added solely as a warmth character, given the style of music, but was hardly what one could call an obvious influence).

I have used the 737 frequently (though neither of the others). I'll withhold any comparison between the two, as it seems to me that they are really apples and oranges.

If you are impressed with the manner in which the Avalon "kills" your 'plug-ins', I'd say that you may indeed be surprised at the Massive Passive. Perhaps it would be overkill if it was only bound for tracking purposes, but as a 2-buss device or a Mastering tool, all I can say is... wow !

BTW, the material in question was all acoustic, western swing versions of 30's & 40's big-band swing tunes - encompassing various acoustic guitars, grand piano, strings, various horns, vibes, steel guitar, the occasional electric guitar, drums and upright bass. It featured four different female singers from around the country. I think that having both tracked and mixed the material over a six month period, this was a sufficient type of source for me to base at least a .02 cent opinion on the Massive Passive. Albeit a minimal 'newbie' experience - my impressions were certainly positive.

David Morgan (MAMS)
Morgan Audio Media Service
Dallas, Texas (972) 622-1972

Dear EveAnna,

I just finished mastering a project with my new "Massive Passive". I just had to write and tell you what a beautiful piece of gear it is. Wow! I didn't think it was possible to get something that sounds better than a Pultec... It is the ultimate companion to my Manley Variable Mu. What great gear you make!!! Kindest regards,

David Horrocks
Infinite Wave Mastering

Received from Charlie Watts:

I wanted to speak about the Manley Passive EQ, of which I have been living with for a couple of weeks now. It's absolutely INCREDIBLE. In my opinion, it is the best EQ I have used for at least four years, but more like twenty. It tromps on any of the digital eq's I use currently. Really. Even if you use it with no eq, it adds a warmth and character seldom realized in an analogue equalizer. When activating the eq, you have the choice of each of four bands, switchable in or out of circuit. You can use 1, 2, 3, or 4 bands only if you just need "a little" eq on something. On the other hand, the heavy one, when using 6 to 12db of boost or cut, it's soooo smooth. I frequently, as do some on this list, run the dats out through my D/A's, and resample in 24 bit mode for improved clarity (or cloudiness), as the situation warrants. It this arrangement, the Manley has proved it's worth. Sometimes a tube stage in the middle of this chain has proven to be an asset. With the Manley Passive in the chain, it adds that "little something" that I've missed for quite a while. Transient response is really good with minimal to no ringing at most frequencies. On Pop material, it's perfect at carving out those vocal heavy mixes, and adding a bass tone that's smooth and round. If you get your hands on one, just try the 60Hz shelve setting with boost to accent the bass register. Then you'll know of what I speak. From the outputs of the analogue 2 track into the Manley, "YAAAH WHOOO!!!".

On Hip Hop, three words come to mind "Oh My God". 808 kicks boom with a punch that's seldom heard on most recordings. And adding a little "air" up top at 12k, 18k or 27k really helps the "dat-itus" in a mix.

On Dance and Electronica recordings, where typically you really have to reach for the lowest octave, adding 6 to 12 dB of bass boost at 22Hz, 33Hz, 47Hz or 68Hz is accomplished with excellent results. And the Silky smooth top usually missing, is added with the Manley Passive now instead of with my digital eq's.

Classical recordings come to life with a depth and clarity that has to be heard to be believed. .25 to .50 db adjustments are really easy to control, and I personally love the non-detented pots on the front panel. I frequently eq differently from left to right, and it's so nice to be able to "tweeze" one channel just a touch.

The brilliant design of Hutch and EveAnna has come to life in this box. Upon power-up, the eq has a delay circuit to allow the tube driver to come up to speed, before engaging the eq controls. Balanced +4 in and out xlrs are standard. Upon unexpected power-downs (hey it was sitting on the console at first, and my size 15's kicked the power plug out), the unit goes into bypass with no loss of audio, and no clicks, thumps or pops.

The noise floor is waaay down there, no audible hum or noise from this one. Operational notes, at least what I like (and many others who own this piece) are as follows. I love the 68Hz setting for bass boost on a shelve, and typically the high band, 12k or 18k on a shelve are my personal favorite settings. Using this eq at the levels I feel are normal, ya know, +9 to +18, it holds together with no audible distortion. I sometimes have to turn down the inputs to my D/A, because it has headroom out the wazoo.

Lastly, FWIW, and IMHO only, I have migrated from using the Avalon eq's to the Manley for analogue work. This isn't intended as a slam towards Avalon, it's still a good eq and I've used them for years, but this Manley Passive is a kick-ass eq. In my opinion, that little itsy-bitsy kinda harsh high end that sometimes presents itself within the Avalon's is nowhere to be found in the Manley.

If you only get to listen to one thing while at AES, or elsewhere for that matter, I highly recommend you listen to the Manley Passive. Chances are it's the one piece you could buy which will make the most dramatic difference in your sound regardless of cost.

And no I'm not paid from Manley or any other manufacturer for saying this. I get paid from my clients only, which is the way I personally like it.

Anyway, just wanted to throw that out, for perusal on the list. If I had to condense all the above into one sentence, it would be "The Manley Passive Equalizer is without doubt the finest analogue equalizer I have ever used in my entire recording and mastering career." That's how strongly I feel about it's sound. Check it out, and see if you don't possibly agree with me on this one.... End of my rave, it's about midnight, and I'm going to someone else's rave with a couple o' Phat dubs I just cut using the Manley Passive. Whew!, you should hear it on the lathe's front end. Incredible.

Charlie Watts
new eq make me berry berry happy...

Five ultimate statements from Charlie:

1. The Manley Massive Passive EQ is the one piece of gear I own that I simply cannot do without. On any project, Analogue or Digital. Period.

2. The Manley Passive EQ is an ABSOLUTE MUST if you are cutting Vinyl Masters or Dub Plates. With this EQ, I can get the music at least 5 db louder than without it. If you're serious about the best sounding Vinyl, you MUST have one of these.

3. There is no other way to get that "air" into the mix than to use the Manley Massive Passive. An absolute MUST for anything I Master. From the Gap Band, thru Lalo Schifrin, to 4 on the floor house, and pumpin' Drum and Bass, it's Da Bomb. Word.

4. I thought the Massive Passive was great at Mastering, but you should hear it in the recording studio. A MUST for the Kick and Bass, and I wouldn't cut a keyboard, guitar or vocal track without one ever again.

5. This IS the EQ I have wanted for twenty-five years. It's finally here. One listen and turn of the knobs, you'll understand, and have to own one.


The Massive Passive is one of the most remarkable creative recording instruments that I have encountered in many years of recording. All hype aside, without even discussing what you can do with it, it sounds incredible. And discussing what you can DO with it, all I can say is a mixer had better be ready to take notes of cool settings because the possibilities are almost endless and you might need help finding that sound from last week. The function goes far beyond curves, and the interaction of the filters makes it possible to play with harmonics in ways I never imagined. I found myself tossing out years of "OK, I do this with an equalizer" and instead just cranking knobs like a kid to see what happened. And LOTS of excellent stuff happened!

Good work, this is an immediate classic in my book!

Take care and take heart.

Mark Williams

Hi EveAnna!

Absolutely stunning! I have never heard anything like the Massive Passive. I've had the Sontec, GML, Avalon, Focusrite, Neve, and the new Millennia Media EQ in here, and all are great EQ's in their own right. But this is different. Often, adjectives are used to describe the 'sound' of an EQ. The Terms Smooth, Musical, Transparent, Sweet, Precise, Fat, etc. have all been used to praise other EQ's, and those same statements could be used to describe the Massive Passive. But, unfortunately, that would be doing a disservice to the Massive Passive. You simply have to hear it for yourself. You shouldn't, or couldn't, be able to do the things that you can with the Massive Passive. Boosting 10 db at 3.3kHz, and 6 db at 12kHz would make your ears bleed on any other EQ. On the Massive Passive, it sounds beautiful! And yet, even with Massive amounts of gain, it doesn't sound processed!! I could go on and on about the Massive Passive, but the simplest thing that I could say is this: Nothing Sounds Like This. Period.

EveAnna, you and Hutch have totally outdone yourself this time. If it's possible, give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done. My order is in and I can't wait for it to arrive.

Mark A. Rodriguez
Sony Pictures Entertainment, ADSG
Mastering Engineer, Vision Mastering

Dear Eve Anna:

You probably don't remember me but we met at AES this past Sept. and we've spoken on the phone once or twice. I'm a sales guy at Pro Audio Design. The reason for this note is that I recently had a chance to spend a couple of weeks with the Massive Passive. And by the way I have been an analog multitrack engineer/producer for over 17 years now. My opinion: This is not only the most beautiful/musical sounding EQ available today, it may be the best EQ ever made in the history of recorded sound. It certainly deserves to join the rarified air only occupied by Pultec, Neve, Massenburg, Sontec, and API. If Pultec had made a stereo 44-frequency ultra-versatile 4-band parametric with HP and LP filters, it may have sounded like your Massive, but the point is, Pultec DIDN'T make something like that. And speaking of air! Holy Christ the 27K presented virtually no audible boost to the cymbals or vocal sibilance, but opened up the harmonics right up to heaven. No matter what I did, the program material retained its musicality. It did not ever sound like I was using EQ.

Among other things, what I did was to use the unit in a mix-bus chain with a Neve 33609J and a Cranesong HEDD converter between the Amek desk and the DAT 2-track. I did two mixes like this. Th album's other 8 songs were mixed through a pair of 9098s and an Alan Smart (garage-based American guitar rock, a bit like Social Distortion but far more textural and deep). The Massive was just so passive, yet so harmonically rich and chocolaty, I couldn't believe my ears. A little low shelf boost at 100Hz, smooth! A tiny mid cut, a bit of guitar bite added at 3k3 and that air boost. No question that those mixes clearly stand above the rest.

The best part is that the experience has translated in to me raving about and SELLING the three or so we had in stock to my customers, immediately. When my clients ask what's good, which they do, I launch in to the M.P. gospel. The one I used went to [name ommitted] at his newly acquired [yak yak] Studio in Vancouver. And he has every great vintage piece ever. He loves it, and so do all my customers who have one. Everybody loves that box! They call me and thank me for the recommendation. You're changing lives, Eve Anna! I can't wait to get one of my own. Thank you. I'll stop freaking out now. Best Regards and keep up the good work.


Wow, the massive is the most musical EQ I've ever put my ears through! I biased up my ATR102 , threw the reels on from my first CD, fed 'em through the Massive and Variable-Mu and instantly put the Mastering Lab out of a job for my next CD.

I Shelved below 50Hz, all that useless stuff from my 2" 16 track, and then even a 2db kiss at 100Hz was audible, the bass and kick were set free, a little up at 6k, -3db from the Vari-Mu and viola, burned to the CD. Comments from friends: "Gee Mike, this sounds 10 x better than the CD I have??"


Michael Fuller
President/ Fulltone Musical Products Inc.

Hi Eve Anna.

I wanted to let you know about my recent experience with purchasing my first Manley gear. I did a pretty big mic shootout in my own studio looking for that "perfect" mic for my vocals. One that also would sound great on acoustic guitar and grand piano would be nice, too. I won't list the assembly of mics I got together, but it was a good selection. My local Pro Audio dealer let me try the Manley Gold for a day. This mic absolutely BLEW AWAY the competition! The other mics were pretty good, and also expensive, but none could stand up the the Manley Gold Reference. I have never heard a mic that captured so much of the detail of what you put in front of it. In a mix, it both stands out and lays right in with little or no EQ or compression. None of the other mics could do that in this shootout. On acapella vocals, no mic even came close to the Manley Gold. Not only does it sound absolutely incredible, but it smokes the others in looks and sheer quality of the build! I like it so much, I sold a great number of other mics to get it, and I am seriously considering a second for stereo grand piano, acoustic guitar, and other stereo recording. I am so impressed with Manley gear that......

I just bought a Massive Passive never having used one. I simply went off of the quality of the Gold Ref Mic and the word of mouth and reviews. HOLY SMOKES!!!!! This is the coolest EQ I have ever used! This thing makes anything sound better! I don't know how you did this, but congratulations! I swear I'll never touch a another EQ again! (well.... maybe occasionally) But in my opinion, this EQ outshines anything else available for sheer beauty of sound. I also just bought a VOXBOX and have put it side by side with some of its competitors and......... It's another knockout! MANLEY WINS!!!!

I love your gear. Keep up the good work. Your incredibly well built stuff gives just the sound I have been searching for.... and it looks absolutely killer!

Best Regards,

Pete Lehman
Visible Sound, Inc.

G'day Eve Anna,

First off I wish you a speedy recovery on your foot. I rang you to tell you I just received my Massive Passive and boy it FUCKIN' ROCKS the house!!!!!!!! I've just sent my deposit for the Vari-Mu. Superlatives escape me!! In the same way that automotive companies do re-calls on cars to correct faults, I feel like re-calling all my clients so I can re-master everything with this box!!

Thanks for your intervention and Dave Green has really looked after me .

Take care Eve Anna,

All my best,

Tony Mantz.


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, August 29, 1999 3:46 AM
Subject: Compliments on Massivo




I just wanted to write you and thank you for producing such a wonderful product.  I've been using the Massive Passive Mastering Version for about 2 months now in my Analog loop and its been wonderfull.  I cant imagine Mastering any project without it.  The Tone and build quality is top notch.  My clients are happier and so am I.

Thanks Again,

  Kyle DiSanto
  Kyle DiSanto MASTERING

more opinions from r.a.p.

Date: 1998/09/30 after the SF AES Show


> > Mr. Tanner wrote:

> >. . . and that Massive Passive is something to die for. . .Well done EveAnna, Hutch and all!

> Matt Bruno wrote:

> Amen! The Massive Passive by Manley was a mind-blower for me and certainly a show highlight, despite its not having the "proper" pots yet (according to the staff at the booth).

Ken/Eleven Shadows wrote:

I saw the beast, which looked very impressive, but never really auditioned it (it's out of my price range, but I'm sure it's worth every single penny). However, it seemed like everyone that I ran into was just frothing-at-the-mouth, panties-in-a-bunch, jumpin'-up-and-down, hootin'-and-hollerin' *raving* about this EQ, saying how good it sounded!!!!--

hi eveanna & manley-crew

i test the massivo in december together with a lot other eq's (fxxxxxxx, axxxxx, nxxx...) and there was allways one eq who was better than the rest, on all kind of material...the massivo.

im a masteringengineer from zurich/switzerland & the hardest month in my life was probably the time till i get my own massivo...i never had a tecnical unit with so much "sex"!

the massivo is mabye the most unhearable eq...when i use the massivo, it never sound like equalized, it just sound like i hear the stuff again who get lost in the recordingprocess...i love this equalizer like i never loved a gear before...

dan suter /

Received from Duncan at Soundmastering:

Time for me to share my experiences with the Massive Passive. I had it for about ten days. Lovely equaliser, no doubt about it. Bob, don't bother with a shoot-out - the way this box works bears little relation to any other eq I've come across, and the way that the bandwidth control comes into play on shelving eq effectively gives you two bands of eq on one band - a big shelf boost with a wide notch cut further up from your turnover frequency (or vice versa) - and that means that shoot-outs are pretty much a waste of time. It is no conventional equaliser and my experience was that you either get on with it or you don't & trying to compare it to other eq's is kinda pointless. Manley are absolutely right in that assertion.

Top end is very sweet indeed. Very open & crystal clear. Mids are well controlled & very useable but sound not particularly special - the mid range performance *can* be compared to other eq's, I think - the bass is indeed massive. I found I got into a bit of a rut with the low end on it, sort of either one of two settings; utterly enormous, or a bit woolly, naturally tending towards the utterly enormous!

However, I also ran into a problem with it that has yet to be resolved to my satisfaction. I told my dealer about it, who told Hutch (who I now know lurks on this list!), who e-mailed me back via my dealer with some intelligent & well reasoned stuff about the unit (did you get my reply to that e-mail, Hutch?), but didn't actually get to the crux of my problem - which is......

I was eq'ing a fabulous John Primer album that I'd already mastered (but I thought it was a *bit* light on the very bottom end for my taste, so it would be an excellent source to try out the Massive). It's a really beautiful sound, recorded by Mike Vernon in Chicago (not sure which studio), open & detailed & utterly concise stereo image. Well, I'd been using the unit for a week by then & had got to know it pretty well, I'd got into the way it works (it is a different mind-set to using conventional eq's, a bit like when you first use a digital eq - you have to learn to eq all over again) and was comfortable using it. I put in some real low end to pull out the kick & bass and was revelling in the sound of it. Then I noticed that the bass & kick had kind of split in half, two of each panned slightly apart, like would happen if I'd applied an asymmetric eq on it. My oscilloscope confirmed this audible phenomenon. I thought that I must have made a mistake so I checked it, checked it again and checked it for a third time. Everything was set up okay, I hadn't accidently applied the wrong frequency etc. on one channel, everything matched from channel to channel. I got one of the other guys here to repeat the process & he got the same result. Weird. We even checked that the pots hadn't slipped round on their mountings (which was silly, cos this thing is built to withstand a direct nuclear strike!) because we couldn't get to the bottom of it - everything matched. Alas we then had to give it back, so we never got to find out what went wrong.

Neither my dealer, nor Hutch, had ever heard of this happening before, and I'd like to say at this point that 1) I believe them, and 2) that I'm in no way, at this stage, saying that this happens on all the units - it's just the result *I* got on *that* unit on *that* day that I can't explain. Mention was made about a possible misalignment on the box that I tried, but I'm not sure if it ever made it back to the lab for testing because communication kind of dried up at that point. This is unresolved to this day, which is why I'm posting this on the list.

I'm on the waiting list to have it back again to see if I can repeat these findings, or whether it was just a crazy day..... if it was just a crazy day then I'll buy one, that's for sure! (and I'm not one for buying analogue eq's - Avalons, Summits etc. etc. just sit in my rack getting dusty - I've yet to have a client, even analogue die-hards, who prefers the analogue chain over the digital one). I'm just curious to see whether anyone else can repeat this, now that the unit is in open circulation. I'll post back to the list if & when I get to test it out again.

Other than that, I've no complaints. If this is a successful unit, and I think it will be, I have a feeling that we're about to enter a time period when every album out there has a stonking bottom end.... it's just too seductive to be applied gently.... but I'd like to get to the bottom of this oddity before parting with my cash.

Lastly, it comes with the best manual I've ever read (and I read it cover to cover before even getting the eq out of the box). Clear, concise, funny - well written, whoever wrote it!



Sound Mastering

Here is Hutch's reply to Duncan:

Hi Duncan

Thank you for all the complementary comments. Also appreciate any negatives as it helps to continually refine the boxes. We were wondering about the results of further tests/repairs on that unit for awhile too. We never heard back from the dealer regarding some further testing we suggested and will be discussing this issue with them at AES.

Essentially the test was to confirm (or not) identical freq response at a number of various settings especially in the LF. Phase response follows freq response. Any wierdness would be obvious.

However, we do test each unit for this at the factory using a square wave into both channels and test every freq, boost & cut, bell & shelf, and using a scope to compare waveform matching. This virtually guarantees L/R matching but is a time consuming 200+ step test. We select modules for best matching on every unit too like selecting mic capsules, but with much tighter tolerances.

All we know for sure is that other units don't do this and nothing similar has happened. The next unit you use will confirm that it was a unique problem and that, if anything, it sounds even better than you remember. The unit you had was, almost for sure, broken, not at all well, a sick puppy.

Thanks for re-stating the somewhat pointless excercise of trying to do a conventional shootout with it. One simply can't translate the settings of the Massive to another EQ or vice versa without a bunch o' test gear. A few have tried, and therapy has finally helped....

We believe Eqs are a very personal choice, some will love it, some may not. They are a challenge to describe and in the end one has to use it, learn it and reach their own conclusions. Naturally, people expect that the Massive must be similar to other EQs (it looks almost conventional) until they have really experienced it.

Hi Hutch and EveAnna:

I thought I would drop you a note on our progress using your pro gear to amplify guitars. You might remember that I wrote you on this subject 5 or 6 months ago. Since that time, we purchased a SLAM!, a Massive Passive, two Studio 240 monoblocks, two Demeter spring reverbs, and two JBL two-way (12" and horn) PA speakers. Most of our purchasing decisions followed the absolutely right-on advice that Hutch gave me.

The equipment seems to work best hooked up and set up in the following order and manner:

1. SLAM! The other guitarist I play with, Bob, uses one channel and I use the other. The very high impedance instrument inputs work best with acoustic guitars. We play Martins with piezo pickups. There seems a bit of an "edge" or very slight harshness using the lower of the high impedance inputs. This is eliminated using the very high impedance alternative. The higher of the two high impedance inputs also works best with Rickenbacker 12 strings and Gretsch guitars. For some reason, Fender Stratocasters sound a bit thin through this setup, but that may be because we are using strings that are too light (11-47), or because we should be using the lower of the two high impedance alternatives, or we need to think about different pickups. We still need to experiment further with Fenders.

We also have not tried Gibsons with humbucking pickups yet.

Incidentally, we tried using two Manley 40dB mic pres before the SLAM! came. It is just as Hutch said -- the SLAM! is MUCH, MUCH better!!!

The metering you put into the SLAM! is great. I can set the input levels using the VUs, then separately set the output levels, then dial in the compressors, and reset the output levels again. With the guitars, the 3 dB pad seems to work best with the VUs. If I don't use the pad, the needles seem to bounce too much off the right side of the meters (!)

And those colored LEDs are amazing -- they are almost worth the price of admission in themselves.

2. Massive Passive. It is interesting that boosting and cutting the same frequencies seems to work well for most of the guitars we are playing. For the Ricks and Gretschs, the following settings seem to work best:

(a) Boost 100 Hz about 5-7 dB.

(b) Cut 560 Hz about 15-20 dB. (This is a nasty frequency for all guitars we have tried except the Fenders. For some reason you don't have to cut 560 Hz with Fender Strats.)

(c) Boost 3.3K Hz about 10-12 dB.

(d) Boost 5.6K Hz about 10-12 dB (This is a magical frequency for the Ricks -- it really adds shimmer and chime.)

For some reason, the Bell curve works better than shelf. (Do you know why this is?)

Seriously, the Massive is so good that we can get Beatle (and Byrd) tones with this thing!!! It is absolutely the best equalizer we have ever used!!!

For the acoustics, we use the same settings as in (a) and (b), above, but we boost the next higher frequencies for (c) and (d), 4.7K Hz and 8.2K Hz. We also boost these frequencies a bit less, say 8-10 dB. It sounds incredibly natural!!! Again, the SLAM! and Massive combination is phenomenal!!!

Sometimes we will cut the bass a bit on the acoustics using the high pass filter. You can cut 120 Hz there, and then boost a bit higher frequency on the "parametric" portion of the Massive, say 150 Hz. This seems to cut the boominess, while retaining some bass boost that the Martins seem to like.

We are also using the ELOP compressors on the SLAM!, usually set about half or a bit less. We then run the signals through:

3. An LA2A or 1176LN compressor (Bob uses one compressor and I use the other). We don't use much additional compression here, just a bit on the LA2A, and the 4:1 ratio on the 1176. I made the mistake of putting these compressors in front of the Massive once -- the high frequencies I needed to boost for the guitars had the added impact of increasing the hiss from the UA units. Not a good thing. Although your units are dead quiet, not everything else is. It seems that putting the Massive as early in the signal chain as possible is the best bet.

And then the signal goes through:

4. Demeter Real Reverb spring reverbs. We have tried using a Lexicon PCM81 and Eventide Eclipse, and both are good units. However, the reverb from the Demeter sounds the most natural.

5. Then the signal goes to the Studio 240s (again, Bob uses one and I use the other). We have tried both triode and tetrode, but they sound about the same running guitars through the amps. And finally:

6. The signal goes to the JBL PA speakers. Bob uses one and I use the other.

Again, your equipment is incredible!!! I can't say enough good things!!!

If you ever wondered how the Beatles got the incredible guitar tones they had on cuts like Dr. Roberts, I would bet it was a result of running directly into a board and using an equalizer somewhat similar to the Massive. You just can't get those tones through a Vox amp, like an AC30. I've got one, and have tried. Now that we have used your gear, we can't go back.

Thanks for your help and advice.

-- Chris

Dear Hutch & EveAnna,

Thanks to you I'm going to need more rack space!

Alan Meyerson

The picture is of Alan Meyerson, my engineer. I'm a film composer, and my studio is at Media Ventures, the large studio in Santa Monica that I share with Hans Zimmer and others. Alan is the amazing engineer (and gear hound) we use on most all of our projects, and he wanted to send you the photo of his most recent acquisitions!

Jeff Rona (for Alan Meyerson)