Well known for his work with Hans Zimmer, scoring mixer Alan Meyerson has engineered scores by a myriad of film composers, including James Newton Howard, John Powell, and Danny Elfman.
Meyerson has long been an enthusiastic user of Manley products, especially the Massive Passive stereo tube EQ. He currently is basking in a passionate love affair with the Manley FORCE four-channel tube preamp.
“I have two FORCEs, eight channels, and I’m using them on everything, figuring out what I love them on,” he offers. “So far, they’ve worked very well on everything. I can’t imagine what the FORCE wouldn’t be good for. They have a huge sound and tons of headroom; you can’t blow them up.”
Recently, Meyerson used the FORCE on a string quartet with an opera singer.
“It was fantastic,” he assures. “I had a piano and the string quartet and the singer, and I used the two FORCEs for all of my preamps. It sounded just beautiful. I’ve also used them on a drum kit and on acoustic guitar, and that sounded great too. Their gain range is so good, you can give them pretty much any level you want, and they’re quiet. You can get a really good operating level whether turning them way down or turning them way up.”
Some preamps seem to work best with certain mics but Meyerson has found few limitations so far with the FORCE. “The other day I used them on some Schoeps small-cap condensers, and that sounded amazing,” he praises. “I used them with a Neumann U47, and that was perfect. I haven’t tried the FORCE with an electric guitar mic yet but I imagine it would be a perfect match; an SM57 through the FORCE, and maybe through a Manley Massive Passive EQ, would be a very nice sound.”
For orchestral sessions, Meyerson records in surround, using a modified Decca Tree. Normally, a Decca Tree microphone setup comprises left, right, center, wide left, and wide right channels but Meyerson’s rig adds surround left and surround right for a total of seven microphones.
“That’s one reason I got two Manley FORCEs,” he confides. “I was using a proprietary preamp with the Decca Tree, and I got two FORCEs to replace it. The next movie I’ll do will be Jumanji, and I’ll use the FORCE on all seven mics.”
Although Meyerson and his Manley FORCE preamps are an item nowadays, he still loves his Manley Massive Passive stereo equalizers, too.
“I was an early adopter of the Massive Passive,” he confirms. “I had six of them at one point, and I still use three of them on almost every mix I do. The Massive Passive wasn’t my first Manley product; before that I had one of their early compressors and a mic preamp. Later I got a SLAM! stereo limiter and mic preamp. But what really kicked my love of Manley products into high gear was the Massive Passive.”
Meyerson uses the Massive Passive whenever he’s doing a movie with a score that is predominantly orchestral and predominantly recorded in one pass.
“I use it as my main EQ for the main pass of orchestra,” he details. “The reason I have three of them is so I can have left, center, right, left surround, and right surround. I sometimes use the sixth channel for a little bit of help on the acoustic basses. I love the warmth of the Massive Passive.”
Technological change is a fact of life in the audio industry, and the advent of Dolby Atmos for Cinema has changed the way Meyerson works.
“Recently, I’ve been using the Massive Passive differently because with Atmos, instead of mixing in 5.1, we mix in 11.1, which takes a lot of tracks” Meyerson avers. “I’m still trying to figure out how to carry my analog world into new film format delivery opportunities.”
One thing won’t change, though. “Manley has always been first on my list whenever I’m looking to upgrade my world and do something new,” Meyerson attests. “If there’s a Manley product that does it, Manley is always part of the conversation. Everything that Manley ever has made has been the very best, and that’s still the case.
“And EveAnna Manley and everyone in the company are always willing and happy to help you out. It’s a really great buyer and user experience. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”