Los Angeles, CA (May 1, 2017)—Multiple Grammy-winning mix engineer Rob Chiarelli may only use a specific audio tool when it serves the song or the recording, but there's reportedly at least one tool he always uses: the Manley Variable Mu.
Chiarelli, whose client list includes Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Stevie Wonder, Leann Rimes, Kirk Franklin and Will Smith, reports, "The Manley Variable Mu limiter/compressor has been on every record I've made since the day I got it back in 1994. I love the sound of the Variable Mu. Even if it's not compressing, it does something beautiful."
Although the Variable Mu has all the parameters Chiarelli needs, "I've never been a guy who looks for 100 features," he insists. "I look for gear that does one or two things really well or that sounds different or better. The important thing about the Variable Mu is the sound that it adds. It always makes the music a little richer or a little smoother or a little deeper.
“What I love about Manley gear in general is that, like a lot of all-time classic gear, it has a certain sound, and it makes everything sound better. The truth is, I would freak out if I didn't have the Variable Mu."
Another crucial part of Chiarelli's chain is the Manley SLAM! stereo limiter and mic preamp. "The SLAM! is another example of the sound being more important than the features," he asserts. "For example, when mixing, I don't need the mic preamps. But I love the SLAM!'s sound."
Even when he's tracking, Chiarelli is reluctant to readjust its controls. "I like having it set a certain way, and I don't like to touch it once the magic is working," he confesses. "Last year, I mixed a record that was number 1 on the Billboard charts for 45 weeks—so there's no way I'm changing the controls after that."