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Manley Gear Key to Every Bob Margouleff Project

Photo by Mark Sandstorm

Although he is best known for his groundbreaking work with Stevie Wonder (Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions,and Fulfillingness’ First Finale), Grammy Award-winning engineer, producer, filmmaker, and synthesizer pioneer Bob Margouleff’s credits are seemingly endless. He produced Devo’s classicFreedom of Choice and has worked with such luminaries as Billy Preston, Wilson Pickett, Branford Marsalis, and David Sanborn. As principal founder of post-production house Mi Casa Multimedia in Hollywood, Margouleff continues to produce and engineer music projects while pioneering new immersive headphone surround-sound technology.

Margouleff is known for relatively dry-sounding records where the music sounds close to the listener, especially vocals. Preamps and processors that sound anything less than stellar would be quickly exposed in his work. And while he appreciates the advantages of software plug-ins, he states, “to emulate older gear is not one of my favorite things. There’s no substitute for the real deal.”

The Manley FORCE® four-channel microphone preamplifier and Manley Reference Cardioid Tube Microphone are as real as it gets, he asserts. “The important thing about Manley gear is it’s honest. What you think their gear does is what it does. That’s why I love using the FORCE. It’s simple, it’s analog, it’s direct, and it sounds terrific. The four preamps are very clean, crystalline, and beautiful. I also appreciate that the FORCE has real knobs; it’s not a picture of a product on a screen that’s a copy of some hardware box.”

This honesty, he says, is a result of the company’s core philosophy. “Everything EveAnna Manley touches, the integrity is there,” he praises. “The tubes, even-harmonic distortion vs odd-harmonic distortion, the circuitry, the rugged construction-it’s quality equipment. The FORCE does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and it’s rock solid, performing with unquestioned reliability. It’s very musical, and its dynamic range, clarity, top end, and transient response are all key and very important to me. I don’t care if the made it sleeker, with a more curvy case and funny colors. The FORCE is an honest piece of audio gear, and that’s what I want.”

When talking about his Manley Reference Microphone, Margouleff waxes rhapsodic. “I love the Reference Microphone, and I use it on virtually everything I touch, especially on vocals, but I’ve also used it on keyboards,” he enthuses. “It’s the sweetest! It’s a large diaphragm mic that’s a musical tool and very sensitive in its proximity qualities. It’s rugged, and it utilizes classic, historic-type circuitry that is proven. The Reference Mic has a beautiful, crisp, clear sound. Everything’s right on the money; I find it to be absolutely flawless.”

Nowadays, Margouleff is mixing in HEAR 360 Headphone Surround. “I’m using the old and the new,” he observes. “I’m using Manley microphones and preamps with a classic sound to record for mixing to virtual reality, which is a whole other animal because it’s 12 channels of audio. I use the best of the old style with the best of the new, just like using acoustic instruments with electronica. That what Stevie Wonder does-and you don’t know where one stops and the other begins. Manley makes the tools you need to do it right.”