Manley TNT 2 Channel Mic Pre
Manley TNT (Tubes/No Tubes) is a new 2-channel microphone preamplifier that offers two different sonic colors in a single box. By popular demand, one channel is the same preamplifier as in the Manley SLAM!, with tubes and transformers. The Manley TNT’s second preamplifier is a new and unique “No Tubes” design, inspired by old British console preamplifiers – it boasts a tasty combination of a “No Tubes” design with transformers. Wanting to equip your studio with a generous range of tones? Look no further than the Manley TNT.
Manley TNT at a Glance:
- 2-channel – tube/solid-state – microphone preamplifier
- Variable input impedance near-zero gain change.
- Variable Output Transformer Bypass
- Switchable overdrive effects; “Clean,” “’60s,” and “’70s.”
- Designed to sound great without tweaking
2-channel – tube/solid-state – microphone preamplifier
Manley Labs saw a need for a different unit that truly offered a rainbow of high-end preamplifier colors at an affordable price. The “T” (Tubes) channel starts off with the highly acclaimed vacuum tube microphone preamplifier from the SLAM! that is certainly a contender amongst the best cost-no-object tube preamplifiers. The “NT” (No Tubes) channel adds a no-compromise solid-state preamp that sets new sonic standards. (Just trust us.) Because the solid-state side uses two opposite topologies in tandem that are user controllable, it is like getting two preamplifier “sounds” on that side alone.
Variable Input Impedance
Manley participated in 3D Audio’s “Preamps in Paradise” forum, which allowed them to craft the TNT based on what top engineers liked, disliked, and desired in the next generation of preamplifiers. The number one request was variable input impedance without the typical gain changes associated with that feature. Manley decided to offer variable impedance done right, with typically near-zero gain changes. In fact, on the TNT’s solid-state side, a current-mode preamp is used for the lowest impedance and a voltage mode preamp is used for the highest impedances. These two preamplifiers are appropriately blended for the medium impedance settings. All of the microphone signal is used and almost none thrown away. Both the voltage-mode and current-mode stages are truly optimized and when one changes impedance settings, one hears the effects of how this changes microphone and cable characteristics as opposed to other approaches which mostly take the preamplifier out of its ideal conditions. Manley also added a 3-way impedance switch to the TNT’s tube side that also compensates for the typical gain changes.
Variable Output Transformer Bypass
Another feature the engineers requested was to have a switch to bypass the output transformer. Manley went a step further and designed a knob, so that the engineer could dial in the amount of “Iron,” which is a novel and inventive approach. With the knob centered at 12:00, you get the basic untouched sound of the output transformer, and like an EQ for cut, turning the knob counter-clockwise, reduces the effect of the transformer thru zero and into the negative zone or ‘anti-iron’. Of course, turning the knob clockwise allows one to exaggerate the transformer effect to about triple. This is not a simulation and truly is based on the actual output transformer – it leans more toward subtle than an obvious effect.
Switchable Overdrive Effects
A third request involved Input and Output controls, so that the engineer could create overdriven effects one day and keep it clean the next. Again Manley saw this as an opportunity to finally do it right. Manley added a toggle switch to that idea and labeled it “Clean”, “60s,” and “70s.” “Clean” is very clean, very low noise, very accurate, and very musical. Both the “60s” and “70s” positions introduce discrete Class A circuits for vintage colors, controlled overload characteristics, and creative opportunities. Essentially, this gives a range from incredibly clean through subtle warmth, or 3D-like through to heavy grunge.
Designed to Sound Great
Both channels are designed around the basic goal of “just plug a mic in and it sounds great.” The tube channel excels on traditionally difficult sources, like bright guitars, reed and brass, cymbals, and certain vocals. The “No Tubes” channel might be more suited for smoother vocals, drums, bass, and raunchy guitars, but you never really knows which preamplifier is best for the job at hand, until you try them.
The MANLEY TNT is a remarkable and desirable tube preamplifier on one side and its equivalent in solid-state on the other side. These are not simulations, not samples, nor are they a clone or a toy. It is really good ol’ analog done right. And for the true connoisseurs, the preamps don’t suffer at the highest (80dB) or lowest (10dB) gain settings.
Manley TNT Features:
- Phantom power is soft-switched and shunt regulated for lowest noise
- Phase switch
- HP filters
- LED overload and level indicators
- Instrument inputs
- Six low noise shunt regulators, and five standard regulators in the solid-state side
- When High-pass filter is bypassed, the preamp is designed to have almost DC response (.01Hz) at all gain settings.
- LED meter indicates first and second stage clipping
- Output is capable of greater than +30 dBu (70 volts peak to peak into 50 ohms from the solid-state side
- Both the current mode and voltage mode preamps sport EIN numbers of 130dB, very close to the theoretical minimum noise possible