BIOGRAPHY OF DAVID MANLEY

 

David Charles St. John Manley was born in Capetown, South Africa August 26, 1939. The son of a British Royal Engineer Lieutenant-Major, David began his vacuum tube engineering and experiments from an early age, building his first tube amplifier when he was only seven years old. By age 12 he had built a 500 watt transmitter and had started to develop his worldwide name.

 

In his late teen years David left for England to study engineering at the EMI REDD (Research, Engineering, Design & Development) laboratories where they built consoles, reel-to-reel recorders, amplifiers and electronics for use in EMI studios around the world. He had a hand in the electronics for the famous EMI TR90 tape machines. David advanced into EMI / Abbey Road classical recording division where he worked very hard to master his recording techniques. Some of his recordings have now become favourite audiophile classics, such as the Birmingham Symphony conducted by Louis Fremaux, Massenet "Le Cid". He also "moonlighted" at DECCA classical recording during this period.

 

At 19, David returned to South Africa on holiday where he met Ernest Fleicshman, (now president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic) who was in dire straights as his studio technical partner was in the hospital. David agreed to help out for a short time which later evolved into a partnership in the studio with Mr. Fleicshman even though David was legally too young to enter into such a business partnership! Within a few years, David completely took over the studios now called Manley-VanNeikerk.

 

David built all of the electronic (tube) equipment and designed all the acoustics used in his studios which grew into a major complex with branches in several cities including mastering rooms and recording studios for complete sound and film work. Manley-VanNeikerk even encompassed a record pressing factory! David took on the role of director-cameraman for many of his studio's commercial projects including thousands of commercials and a year's episodes for the BBC "Survival" television series.

 

After more than ten years of operation, David sold his studios to Teal/RCA. He began to get involved with hi-fi writing a weekly column for the newspaper and opening a very successful hi-fi store (in his 19 room mansion he had renovated) selling only a few choice brands: Magneplanar, Infinity, Threshold, and Denon. He knew nobody could design better vacuum tube equipment than he, so this is where he began commercial production of his tube amplifier designs.

 

Feeling the need to finally and permanently leave South Africa, David (an avid yachtsman) built two yachts and in grand style, sailed out of the country! His travels took him through Reunion and Mauritius (where he even considered starting a manufacturing facility) but eventually he sailed up the Red Sea through the Suez Canal to Cypress. From there he went back to London and with the sale of his larger sailboat, began Vacuum Tube Logic of England.

 

By this time, his eldest son, Luke, had arrived in America where he took on the task of sales and distribution for the fledgling VTL. After a while it became evident that David would have to move the factory to the USA and so he did. Southern California was a place he had often travelled in his filming days. He knew with the abundance of industrial manufacturing facilities, high quality defense related metal/machining works, Hollywood and the studio recording center of the world, and the proximity to the large and ever-growing Far East market that Los Angeles was indeed the place he would need to be. He worked his way east about 35 miles to Chino which offered excellent support industry (anodizing, machining, engraving, silk-screening), an abundant and reliable work force, reasonable overhead and affordable housing. Vacuum Tube Logic of America began manufacture of high-value-for-money preamplifiers and amplifiers for the audiophile.

 

As a flagship brand within VTL, the Manley hifi brand was born representing the upper echelon, Nth degree design work from David. The word also got out to studio engineers that David was the one who not only had the vacuum tube knowledge but also could draw from his extensive recording studio background and experience so before long studios were commissioning all-tube high-end microphone preamplifiers and equalizers to be built under the Manley name. David developed a full range of recording equipment including microphones, limiters, A to D converters, and many other specialised products which are now recognised world-wide as the best premier tube gear available, spawning many imitators!

 

David began an audiophile record label, ViTaL Music, to showcase the sound of his recording equipment and demonstrate his minimalist live-to-2-track recording techniques. He built a 30' x 40' studio from the ground up, designed and built every element of the recording chain, and playback / monitor chain. He even set up a mastering facility for lacquer cutting and CDR digital mastering. Alas, as all good things must come to an end, time constraints forced David to sell the record label in '94.

 

At VTL with heavy production of Manley and VTL brands catering to both hifi and pro studio markets, the acquisition of the famous American Langevin brand, and the ViTaL Music record label it became apparent that VTL and Manley would have to split into different companies. In April 1993 David bought a new 11,000 sq. ft. building and a CNC machine shop and moved Manley and Langevin into the new facility. Manley Laboratories, Inc. was born. Luke took over VTL as his own and continues separate operation at the original factory today.

 

In 1996 after the new Manley Labs factory was well established, David at 57 decided he could retire. Today he lives on a houseboat on the shores of Paris. He continues to consult to European studios and mastering facilities as well as contributing ideas and suggestions to the factory on a regular basis.

 

Manley Laboratories, Inc. today has earned the well deserved reputation for unsurpassed sound and superb American build quality at reasonable prices backed up with excellent factory service. EveAnna Manley continues to run the factory with the philosophies of quality and service that the company was founded on. Ever expanding, the Manley factory is enjoying great success creating innovative audio equipment for people who enjoy music.


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