Manley "Absolute Headphone Amplifier"

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by AllanMarcus, Sep 7, 2018.

  1. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    :D

    The mic + pre sounds great but because is "colored" in a very nice way for voices, it makes voices sound big, warm and impressive. However, it's different from a headphone amp and this seems to have a big chunk of money invested in aesthetics and extra gadgets, I don't know if the amp would sound bad for the price or not, however, at least from the pro side, they do really know how to make good stuff.
     
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  2. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I think folks might be putting to much stock in the base and the looks. Manley has a pretty good reputation for electronics, and the amp has a nice set of high end features that could be interesting, like variable negative feedback, preamp (with RF remote), balance control, tone control, user adjustable overload protection (max volume), 12 to 600 Ohms or greater output, balanced jack --they must be serious :)

    "the output tube stage can be switched on-the-fly between all-triode Push-Pull to Single-Ended topology" - this sounds like it might be interesting, but I don't know the practical ramifications. If someone could explain this how this would affect the sound, it would be appreciated. I read on the page what it does, but not sure how it will affect the sound.

    As for the way it looks, beauty is the in the eye of the beholder. From the pictures, I think it's quite interesting. If I'm gonna spend $3k on anything I put out where I can see it, I want it to look nice, and preferably interesting. That said, I haven't seen a high end headphone amp that is so ugly, I would hide it, although the Rag is close.

    Now the price is probably quite inflated since they don't sell direct; they only sell through a very limited number of stores. TTVJ is listed as a dealer, and he has been known to do loaners. Anyone friends with Todd?
     
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  3. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    But production cost isn't. I'm as fond of amplifier cases milled out of solid titanium as the next man (or the one after him, if he doesn't like them) but people should be aware that fancy cases means much less cash left for the electronics inside.

    But hey, sure it might sound great anyway. And everybody is entitled to getting their version of owner satisfaction: it's their money!

    (Yes, I would run my fingers lovingly over that solid-ingot case (whilst wondering wtf that was ever going to contribute to the sound). Actually, I'm not so keen on pseudo-retro, and I detest steam punk)
     
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  4. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    This summer I bought a somewhat rare book on a whim at DIYaudio, written by David Manley, the original founder of VTL and later, Manley Labs. While the book was pretty bad (light on substantive design talk, but heavy on bad jokes, marketing copy, and circuit philosophizing), I did learn that Manley Labs was meant to be the ostentatious brand, while VTL was the proletariat, most value-for-money one. As he put it, he got tired of people telling VTL they didn't know how to make better looking gear, but didn't want to sacrifice the aims of VTL, so Manley Labs was born.

    That's just some background to the visuals and emphasis on casework you're seeing here. I gotta say, they seem to be proving those original critics right with every design they put out.

    For those who're Chinook fans, somehow that case escaped the hexagon and seafood themed shapes. The VTL version is very similar looking, PCB layout looked a bit different though IIRC.
     
  5. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    Super tough love crowd here. Manley is very well regarded outside of the headphone arena, should be a solid sounding amp. The pricing is in line with what I'd expect from them i.e. too rich for my blood.
     
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  6. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Not to be overlooked that Manley winds transformers themselves as mentioned by @Cspirou . They have a solid grasp of what they wish to accomplish with tubes and transformers. The results have earned them accolades from many recording engineers. I'd wager a fair amount of music to which everyone listens has passed through Manley EQ, compressors, or both, during mix or mastering. Then there are many vocals using Manley mics and preamps.
     
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  7. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    That actually explains a lot; deliberately blinged-up for the luxury lifestyle crowd. Possibly worth having a peep at VTL stuff while we're here...
     
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  8. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Wow there's a lot of features on this amp. Selectable SE and PP! No one does that. Mono switch for mono LPs. This isn't just looks folks.
     
  9. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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  10. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    The Colecovision, hooked up to my Adam computer, playing Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom from the cassette tape port... wow that takes me back.
     
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  11. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    For the Colecovision owners, or had one in the past, Carnival and that terrible Smurf's game is what I remember when I was playing on a kids unit back in the day. Too bad the hardware in them are failing at a high rate.
     
  12. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    there is a VTL version of the upcoming Manley headphone amp? Link?

    A sort of interesting family story behind Manley Labs and VTL. Short version available on Wikipedia.
     
  13. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    The VTL stuff looks much more my cup of tea... for looks. I suspect that its beauty could well be far deeper than skin, too.
     
  14. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    We should have some of these in the store (Upscale Audio) hopefully in a few weeks. If you find yourself in San Gabriel Valley or can't make it to RMAF, come on over!

    Will post impressions upon arrival.
     
  15. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Like @atomicbob said, Manley is extremely well known in the recording world as some of the cleanest and best. Any mix enggineer would kill for a Massive Passive EQ, or a recoding engineer drool for a Manley mic pre or a Varible Mu limiter.

    But what, Rupert Neve puts out a headphone amp and now Manley does? Is API, Melinnia, UA, or Avalon next?

    I guess this is the next progression. They had the phono pre out for quite sometime, so hi-fi is not a huge stretch I guess. Just don't expect it to be cheap.
     
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  16. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    It's expensive and probably lots of assumptions of "not worth the cost, obviously!"....

    I can't remember which high-ranking member said it but their 300B is supposed to be fantastic.
     
  17. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Manley has had home, high end, HiFi for a long time. They even have an headphone amp, the Neo-Classic (technically a preamp, but also a HP amp). They been in the home hifi business a long time. This amp was announced and shown over 2 years ago, so it's been in the works a long time. Probably overlapped Neve rather than followed. The Neve amp is geared more for the musician for playback, while the Manley is more for the wealthy home listener (IMHO).

    I do not think the new amp takes 300b, but I could be wrong.

    2 x 12AT7 (ECC81), 4 x 6AQ5A (EL90)
     
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  18. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    I think it's more "butt ugly, and the same guts could cost less in a less ludicrous box", a la EC or other boutique brands where the a lot of the BoM doesn't go on aesthetics. We're sort of conditioned to like that sort of value proposition at this point- I don't think it's a dislike of expensive audio gear per se. This isn't ASR.

    That said, it'd probably sell well in the Chinese market, where showy ironmongery and status matter more than actual quality- which might well be selling the quality of the guts short.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
  19. msommers

    msommers High on Epipens

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    @AllanMarcus No but @MuppetFace mentioned the Manley 300B with high regard awhile ago.

    @Kattefjaes you may be right. I forget that SBAF is heavily value-driven and anything outside of that vein tends to be 'not for serious listening, it's too fancy looking.' What's Best Forum being the polar opposite haha
     
  20. captkirk

    captkirk Khan's BFF

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    I think you may have been referring to Marv's post in the Woo Audio thread...

     
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