Manley® Variable Mu Limiter Compressor
Tube compression royalty for your mixes.
As Manley Labs' flagship compressor since 1994, the Variable Mu is a tube and transformer-driven classic that exudes hand-made craftsmanship. A gold standard among mixing and mastering engineers, the Variable Mu adds clarity and cohesion to stereo buses or your entire mix.
Developed under Manley Labs' rigorous scrutiny, the Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor plug-in is a thorough emulation of this legendary tube limiter, and is based on the coveted “6BA6 T-BAR Tube Mod” unit. Now, its famed sound is available exclusively for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces.
Now You Can:
Add definition and fidelity to individual tracks, stereo buses, or an entire mix
Glue together difficult mixes with signature Manley tube compression
Link channels for a precise, perfectly matched stereo image
Select from Left/Right or Mid/Side operation for precise control of stereo imaging
Use the plug-in-only Dry/Wet Mix control to easily dial-in parallel compression
Mix with artist presets from Tom Elmhirst, J.J. Blair, Mike Larson, and more
Take A Listen
Manley Variable Mu Under the Hood
While the Manley Variable Mu uses the remote cut-off style gain reduction found in the Fairchild and other classic limiters, it has a sound and character all its own. Its classic dual-triode gain reduction design is constantly re-biased by the sidechain control voltages, creating a unique variable gain compressor with stunning transparency. This lets you treat source material with velvety-smooth gain reduction, while infusing warm harmonic content, free of audible compression artifacts.
King of the 2-Bus
The Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor plug-in can be used on single instruments such as bass or a lead vocal, or on subgroups like strings or horns. But its raison d'être is on the mix bus, where its expert features can unify your mixes with a rich, hi-fi fit and finish.
Parameter linking allows simultaneous adjustment of both channels with stereo signals. When unlinked, the plug-in's Mid/Side processing is actually improved over the hardware, providing phase accurate stereo imaging. The High Pass Sidechain filter prevents compression to frequencies lower than 100 Hz — letting you compress, say, overheads, while retaining punchy bottom-end. Plug-in-only controls Dry/Wet, Mix, and Headroom give you more colors to paint your mixes. Dry/Wet Mix offers easy parallel compression — perfect for polishing vocals and more. Finally, the Headroom control lets you optimize the Variable Mu’s overall level to your playback system.
“If you've got a ragged mix, this plug-in will give it a big hug. It's a stunning emulation of our Variable Mu hardware, right down to the last detail.”
– EveAnna Manley President of Manley Labs
“The Manley Variable Mu is one of my go-to compressors for all types of sounds – especially when I’m looking for an upfront, in-your-face tone. It's fun to distort too.”
– Mike Larson (Pharrell, Daft Punk, Kendrick Lamar)
“I used to lament that I had only one Manley Variable Mu. Thanks to UA, those days are in the past! Now I'm like that little old lady on the hot sauce commercials — I put that s*** on everything!”
– Phil Tan (Mariah Carey, Ludacris, Rihanna)
“Three different hardware versions of the Manley Variable Mu have lived in my gear racks since the ’90s. Now the UAD version captures the same unique feel that the hardware adds to my mixes.”
– Mark Needham (The Killers, Neon Trees, P!nk)
December 26, 2014
I can't compare it to the hardware but love it already big time
Like the m/s and wet/dry feature and overall glue and cohesionit delivers. No more New York compression thru extra busses with time consuming phase issues to solve or counterintuitive work...Read More
December 3, 2014
There are some bits of equipment that are not just useful, not just essential, but magical... An original C12, a Telefunken V72, an 1176 and a Vari-Mu fit into this category for me. I'm...Read More
November 21, 2014
Here's the difference maker!
I have been mixing for 20 years this year and very rarely have I run across something that I can't live without. This is one of those pieces. I have to mix fast a lot of the time so I love...Read More
November 20, 2014
This is the nicest compressor plug-in I have ever used. Crisp and clean with all the tube character and warmth. I can't speak about the comparison to the hardware but I can say it just...Read More
November 14, 2014
vs the Hardware = 10/10
Having owned the hardware Manley Vari-Mu for many years, this plug is one of the most faithful recreations yet. If you have not tried a Vari-Mu across your mix buss just for adding flavor...Read More
November 13, 2014
Well Done, Guys!
Does the job, sounds amazing, especially on stereo-bus. Kudos, you're best.Read More
Exclusively licensed and rigorously scrutinized by Manley Labs, modeled by Universal Audio
Transparent Variable Mu tube compression for master fader, subgroups, or individual sources
Models entire stereo stereo Class A circuit, including custom tubes and transformers, input gain and gain reduction
Continuous Dual Input, Stereo Output, Threshold and Attack controls with five position Recovery controls
Sidechain Filter, L/R or M/S operation plus plug-in only Dry/Wet parallel processing Headroom and Controls Linking
Requires UAD-2 DSP Accelerator Card or Apollo Interface, available from authorized dealers worldwide
Manley Variable Mu® Limiter Compressor
Maybe it's just me....
As a plug-in stereo compressor it's great- just like a lot of stereo compressors in UA's catalog. I've used the Vari-Mu plug-in in a wide variety of situations and it works fine. But when comparing it to the 10 year old Manley Vari-mu in my rack (recently modified with the HP SC option), the plug-in just doesn't carry the same "weight" as the hardware. The hardware version just has some magical glueness to it that the plug-in doesn't. Maybe I'm just used to my particular hardware version sonic character -using something every day for 10 years, things tend to grow on you. Maybe it was modeled after the tube switch?
So for me it's the hardware version going in and sub-bus on mixes and the plug-in for channels for a little extra as needed.
I can't compare it to the hardware but love it already big time
Like the m/s and wet/dry feature and overall glue and cohesionit delivers. No more New York compression thru extra busses with time consuming phase issues to solve or counterintuitive work arounds.
this mu will sit on most busses to glue or to compress NY style. 2 octo cards give me plenty of power to work with manley massive passives and mu's on al busses even channels when needed.
There are some bits of equipment that are not just useful, not just essential, but magical... An original C12, a Telefunken V72, an 1176 and a Vari-Mu fit into this category for me.
I'm delighted that UAD have made this plugin, I bought it as soon as I heard it. From a compression point of view it does exactly what the hardware version does, but without the magic.
I was fascinated to see whether UAD would be able to faithfully represent the warmth and depth of the original - the fact that it makes your vocals sit a foot in front of the speakers rather than just in between them. In my opinion they haven't achieved this, but those clever chaps at Universal Audio can't do it, I guess it's impossible.
But it's 1/10 the cost of the original!
Here's the difference maker!
I have been mixing for 20 years this year and very rarely have I run across something that I can't live without. This is one of those pieces. I have to mix fast a lot of the time so I love when I find gear that glues a mix together super quick and yet doesn't sound like I spent 20 minutes on it. That's what Vari Mu does. I literally slapped this on a rough mix I had going and it immediately sounded like I had been dialing in the mix in for an hour. Love that! You will too. It adds a little top end and clarity to the mix too!
This is the nicest compressor plug-in I have ever used. Crisp and clean with all the tube character and warmth. I can't speak about the comparison to the hardware but I can say it just sounds right how I want it to.
vs the Hardware = 10/10
Having owned the hardware Manley Vari-Mu for many years, this plug is one of the most faithful recreations yet.
If you have not tried a Vari-Mu across your mix buss just for adding flavor and mojo, you are missing out.
Well Done, Guys!
Does the job, sounds amazing, especially on stereo-bus. Kudos, you're best.
BEST SOUNDING PLUGIN EVER
I'm Impressed!! THIS IS THE BEST EMULATION EVER, I think we might be seeing a lot more of these units on eBay. This plugin is pretty much like 90-95% close to the original to my ears.
Manley Plug Ins are awesome
I used to have the hardware version years ago before selling my Nashville studio. Also the Manley EQ. Simply can't say enough about these plug-ins. They sound wonderful. Just demoed the Variable MU when it came out and I'm sold. The Massive Passive and the Variable MU will live on my 2-buss. I can generally find something to not-like but the Manley plugins are all smiles.
Great job guys.
The "Crap Sponge"
Soaks up crap, and outputs sweetness. Can't ask for more than that!
Unfortunately one of the UAD plugins that I have to write a negative feedback. Universal need to do a better job with the next update and improve this one. Is missing the warm and character that made so popular the original Manley Variable MU..a shame.
great, like the hardware
I've used the hardware version on many projects.... the two heaviest engineers I know in Nashville have it on their mix buss all the time. The UAD version made me smile as I watched that needle do about 2-4 dB of compression and add the same kind of magic glue. One of my friends who has a real one in town has issues with one side not being as hot as the other..... which you can make work.... but with the software version of course you have flawlessness and the cream of the crop, and other options, like the sidechain and the m/s feature. It's just great.... if you want a buss compressor that isn't neutral but isn't overly dark or overly warm either, this is for you......
Wow! This sounds exactly like the hardware version!!
It has that magic mojo thing going on!
This feel like this will be going on my mixbus a lot from now on :-)
Will you stop releasing such ridiculously good plugins please? Everytime I think I have everything I could possibly need you release something else that blows me away. This thing stinks on the 2-bus. Amazing.
The real Analog sound in your computer !!
It's going somewhere, but....
I ran my mixes through it with the HP Filter on and the mix comes out clearer/brighter, punchy and forward. However, with the HP filter the overall sound, to my ears, becomes a bit thinner/smaller sounstatge. This becomes a catch 22 because it is important to me to have a punchy master that also has a big/full sound stage. What I end up doing is running my mix to a clean outboard compressor at ratio 1:5 with slowest attack and HP filter at 400hz, this gives a big and wide sound stage but no character..just clean...so I send it back in the DAW and run it through this plug and making sure the GR is bearly moving...then through appropriate EQ..then through a good limiter...with this setup, the plug becomes useful. Basically u compensate...
far from the oriiginal
this is way far from the original one. since I've using the hardware unit 8 years. and there are not the mix using vary mu. I was expecting this could be the good replacement. but it is nothing like the real one. i can not even use as the placement when i really need that sound.
You'll use this every day
There are very few tools you can invest in that will immediately allow your spare bedroom studio to produce music that sounds like it came out of a pro facility. This is one of them. If you just bought an Apollo Twin and you're trying to decide which compressor to buy. This is the one (followed very closely by the 1176 collection - with the both of them, all of your bases are covered). On your individual tracks, it's all velvety smoothness. On a mix buss, it has the unique ability to make every bad mix decision you make seem interesting or boundary pushing - and always better sounding coming out than it was going in.
Manley Variable Mu Limiter.....WOW!!!!!!!
Ok....so I tested this plugin and I was speechless. I wish UAD had made this to go through the unison on the apollo. These days I do not buy new plugins if I have one that can do what a new on the market plugin does. but this is now on my must have list. This plugin does the mid-side compression sooo good that phasing is minimal, it doesn't hurt my ears when I drastically widen a track. This plugin is a bad ass.
Sounds Like it Looks "Flat"
The front of this plugin looks great:)
Unfortunately you can't see the sides, the top or the back
of the unit.... and that's exactly how it sounds:
It seems like they wanted to make sure this one was out in
time for the holidays..
Maybe they'll be an update after they make enough money?