M House Studios Debuts New Product at Summer NAMM

Elizabeth Dale

NAMM Shows have a reputation for being the spot in music products to debut new, groundbreaking equipment and the 2019 Summer NAMM Show in Nashville was no exception. 

Making its grand debut was the budding “M House Studios” formed by business partners Ricky Mannion and Alex Weislow who used the show as an opportunity to introduce the industry to the 5020 Limiter. We recently sat down with Mannion to get the behind the scenes story of M House Studios and their inaugural Summer NAMM experience.

  • Ricky Mannion

When was M House founded? What was the inspiration to create your own company and product line?

M House started in 2018 when I was in my third year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying electrical engineering. I'd been fascinated with mixing equipment since high school, when I was running a little studio in my basement for my band and friends. I was already using the name “M House” at that point, since the company namesake is my cat and our benevolent CEO, Morley.

One of my goals at the time was to learn about compressors at a very low level. I had an opportunity to investigate compression circuits for a class project, which quickly got out of hand. I was spending so much time working on my compressor design that it was starting to interfere with other schoolwork, so eventually it occurred to me that I should continue this as a personal project and start a business. Alex and I had always wanted to partner on some kind of audio business, so it was exciting to get something started. I just graduated this past May, and we headed down to 2019 Summer NAMM!

How did you and Alex meet?

Alex was my roommate at school. When I first arrived at my dorm as a freshman, we had to attend this orientation meeting. As kids filed in, I overheard Alex asking everyone if they knew who had left their door open with a bass guitar in the room--which was me. As it happened, Alex was my neighbor down the hall. We moved into an apartment the next year and spent the following summer on campus hanging out and talking about music. Alex studied computer science, so we have a lot of interest in expanding into hybrid analog-digital designs.

Could you describe the 5020 Limiter and its capabilities?

The 5020 Stereo FET Limiter is an extremely aggressive, two-channel limiter with variable attack time, release time, character control, wet/dry blend, input level, and output level. The 5020 features multiple stereo modes, side-chain high pass filters, meter modes, and a true hardware bypass. It excels at smashing drum groups and imparts a unique, colorful sound.

Why is the 5020 a critical addition to the music products industry at this time?

It seems to us that there a lot of compressors today which don't have much of a particular sound. As a reaction, I designed a limiter which is neither transparent nor neutral. The 5020 is designed to be used as a compression ‘effect,’ like a guitar pedal but for your drums. In a world of pristine, and sometimes sterile recordings, the 5020 can be used to invigorate and resurrect lifeless tracks.

How would you describe attending and debuting the Limiter at Summer NAMM?

It was amazing! It was a dream come true for us to attend this event that we've always wanted to be a part of. Besides being able to run around like kids at a candy store and geek out over gear; we met some incredible people. I think that's really the most valuable thing we took away from our experience--the connections we made with other passionate people. It was definitely the highlight of our summer.

Do you have any advice for future product designers/entrepreneurs?

I think it's powerful to design things you would actually like to use. I didn't start designing equipment because of an opportunity in the market, but because I really wanted to create something that I could use in my own studio.

Do you have a company philosophy/mission statement/etc. that you could share?

All of our products are passion projects, simple as that.

Will you be attending The 2020 NAMM Show? If so, what are you hoping to accomplish for this show?

That's the plan! Everyone's told us it's incredible. We were struck by the size of Summer NAMM, but we've been informed that the NAMM Show is on another level. We'd like to meet even more people and develop deeper connections in the industry.

Can you give us a peek at what’s next for M House Studios?

We'll be putting out some more rack units first, but we'd like to branch out into a little bit of everything.

To learn more about M House Studios or the 5020 Limiter visit https://mhousestudios.com/.