Manley "Absolute Headphone Amplifier"

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

  1. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Overpriced. In Marv's book, that's bad.
     
  2. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    I am a bit of a Woo fan admittedly and the WA5 has its merits, although I agree with Marv that for their price they could throw in nicer tubes and update the components.
     
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  3. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I had a chance to listen to the amp at RMAF, and talk with EvaAnna as well as another guy there, who I think was an engineer. I wrote: Volume is very smooth. Neg feedback knob appears to increase the volume, but also the [tube] distortion (as expected). I really could barely hear the distortion (show conditions). Push pull vs SE, hard to tell difference. Overall, very nice. Complicated. music wasn’t mushy. Bass well defined. Smooth “tube” sounds. Hard to listen for stage at the show.

    I was using their Utopia's, but I have Utopia's, so I was familiar with the sound sig.

    I told them I didn't like the plug in the back. Their impression is for their target audience, folks wouldn't be swapping headphones. I also mentioned that the "integrated" headphone stand was nice, but anyone that cared about their headphone pads would never us it as it would compress the pads over time. They didn't even think about that.

    My "complicated" comment above refers to all the various settings, both front and rear. I suppose it's cool to have all the options. Most will never use or understand them.

    Is the amp worth $4500? Maybe. It's aesthetics are unique, and that is important to some. It's probably over engineered, which also appeals to some. It's clearly designed as a desktop amp / conversation piece for the wealthier crowd. Defiantly not a a value product!

    I think some here will find the options intriguing (switchable topology, interesting volume control, basic preamp capability with remote, balanced, Variable Feedback Control). Like many luxury cars that aren't the best cars, but some just like 'em, this amp falls into that category.

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    1. Oh geez, your impressions seem pretty damning. My universal translator output reads: "this is good for www.ORFAS.org folks"
    2. Push-pull and SE in one box seems like total bullshit. Sum Ting Wong here. OPT design is completely different with push-pull vs SE. I spoke to someone about this. I know how they did this. Super hokey.
    3. "I told them I didn't like the plug in the back. Their impression is for their target audience, folks wouldn't be swapping headphones." = there will be no audience.
     
  5. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Re "Their impression is for their target audience, folks wouldn't be swapping headphones." Spoken like a company that kicks ass in 2-channel but doesn't have a clue in headphone audio. I know they know what they're doing with tube amplification/preamplification--circuit design, layout, feature sets, etc--but it seems clear they have no clue of the subtle but real user needs/expectations in HP audio. I expect this product will undergo "revisions" (assuming they sell enough to bother doing so) that will push it into the realm of ergonomic reality.

    Regardless, I still love the looks and would love to hear it. Some of the features, or I should say, the sum of all the features, is unique & of great interest, at least to me...
     
  6. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Of course it all comes down to how it sounds for most folks here. That's not true for many. Some just walk into an audio store and say "give me a system for $20k" (or $50k, $100k, or more). For them, heir new system will sound a hell of a lot better then their Alexa speaker, and the "coolness" factor of the look carries a lot of weight. This is a reality of high end audio for the majority (unfortunately). The sales guy will likely say, "hey, check out these cool Grados and this Manley amp". Hell, half the idiots that buy stuff like that will be thrilled just to have a amp that literally says Manley on the front! (and will not even notice or care about the spelling, or the fact that in this case, Manley is a woman).

    Maybe ORFAS, but more likely folks like Don Jr., Wall Street punks, and Tesla driving Silicon Valley backyard chicken enthusiasts. But also ORFAS :)

    I predict it will be successful, at least one will sell used/demo for $3000 on Audiogon within a year and there will be a version 2 with even more hokey features no later than 2022

    How old is old to be a member? Also, where can I get my ORFAS t-shirt!
     
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  7. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Really? For $4k+.

    I can see people buying it out of sheer curiosity from just the different options to use, but the Signal to Noise Ratio, noise floor, power output are all average at best. No exotic parts inside from what I can tell, no multiple large transformers to justify the costs & no exotic tubes.

    Seems they are vastly over-pricing this when a Manley Neo Classic 300b can be had for less.
     
  8. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    I'm not sure you are getting their market. Rich forks that looks at it a say "koool...lots of toobs...Manley, their a good brand, right?"; then the commissioned sales person says "absolutely!"

    Also, the Manley Neo Classic 300b is what, $6k new?
     
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  9. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    BTW, I'm not a shill for the amp. I too think it's over-priced. That said, I find it interesting to watch a new entrant to high end headphones.

    Also, EvaAnna joined head-fi and had this to say:

    She goes by "manleylabs" on HF.
     
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Rich people don't do that. They are not dumb. They do not lack discernment.
     
  11. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    ^ totally agree with this.

    I just think manley's aha is ugly. Pretty sure that rich people mostly evaluate so. They may not be as aware of true performance as enthusiasts. But in my observation, riches favor beautiful designs. At least appearance must deliver consistent message by itself, which is one common trait of general luxury products.

    Can easily imagine some riches buy something like this:

    [​IMG]

    (I'm not a huge fan of he1 design, but that's quite understandable)

    But

    [​IMG]

    Hmm. That just looks "cheap"... (this might be the perfect reason)
     
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  12. Zhanming057

    Zhanming057 Friend

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    I'm reminded of a fairly recent conversation I had with an engineer at Martin Logan about their less-than-succssful ventures into the headphone world. There seems to be a lot of hubris from these old-guard speaker-fi companies. My feeling is that they just don't know many headphone enthusiasts, and don't feel the need to go out to talk to any.

    If you go to Canjam and grab 10 random guys on the floor and ask them how many pairs of cans they use semi-regularly, you'd quickly find out that the number isn't anywhere close to 1. I like the fact that Manley is at least trying to be active in the Head-fi community, though.
     
  13. frenchbat

    frenchbat BritishBat's arch enemy - Friend

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    Think "butt ugly"
     
  14. E_Schaaf

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

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    I know from experience this is often false for people interested in high-end 2-channel audio who don't DIY. In fact, I'd say the vast majority is extremely ignorant even relative to your average rando here... and they don't want to learn either (I've been literally told by customers "I don't care" when I start getting into the finer details about cabinet and driver design, placement, etc). I had a guy recently who didn't know what speaker efficiency is... and he later dropped $10k on speakers with us.

    Many will buy simply on recommendation, with no technical knowledge whatsoever, no audition, and no point of reference. Some people just want to throw money away. Conspicuous consumption is very real in this market.

    I have indeed had customers say "I have $40k to spend, tell me what to buy". Happens more often than you'd expect. These guys are even more ignorant about headphones than they are about speakers and see no reason you can't plug a pair of AB-1266 into a phone and expect it to deliver optimal sound quality.
     
  15. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I mean.... headphones aren't speakers. If their target audience is anyone past puberty, the idea that they won't be swapping headphones is kind if batshit logic. Especially given the fact that there are so many headphones now more than ever. Hell, a couple days browsing head-fi would've made this plainly obvious.

    It makes you wonder if they've done any real research into the field they're designing a product for.

    The fugly design aesthetic just further cements this idea. It's as if someone who's never actually seen a headphone amp but read about them in magazines tried designing one. Not a fan of the bad 70s dystopian sci-fi movie look.

    Even if it sounds great I'd have a hard time waking up and looking at it without the kind of next morning regret one gets after banging the fugly girl/boy at the bar after one too many shots.
     
  16. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    As a devout fan of steampunk aesthetic and that bad 70s sci-fi look, please go fuck off (humoured ribbing, nuance lost in text etc., I know my taste in art is weird.)

    On a more serious note, I think that people here tend to grossly overestimate the average consumer and that, as individuals deeply invested into this hobby, our perspectives might be somewhat warped. What I know of rich people with money to spend line up with E_Schaaf's observations— there will be people who don't know you can't just plug a Utopia or Verite into a Vertu or Mobiado and expect it to sound as good as it can, or that there are $5,000 amps that are handily trumped by $500 ones. This is obviously fucked up and empowers manufacturers with no moral constraints to bleed these people for as much money as they can, but that's why places like these that generate information and happily call out stupidly priced things are valuable.

    No but really, I like how this amp looks and would have considered saving my pennies if it were more affordable (or pops up on the used market at an obtainable price) and AllanMarcus hadn't shared his insight. Embarrassing as it is to admit in present company, aesthetics do kinda matter to me when picking gear out, though thankfully not to the same extent as most uninformed persons. Current top of my "endgame" list is a Decware which zerodeefex pointed me at some time ago, unless someone here can definitively say the CSP3 sucks maggots with low-z headphones, or just in general?
     
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  17. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Nothing wrong with having different tastes. Life would be boring otherwise. My tastes often run counter to the populace as well. I just don't see the logic in designing an amp that aesthetically probably appeals to five people. Unless I really am drastically underestimating this theoretical "target audience".
     
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  18. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    For what it's worth, I happen to like the design too. Yea, I lack refinement. Give the relatively low participation in this thread and 3+ who like it, a bigger sample would probably blow past your 5 - maybe even soar to, I don't know, 13? :-}
     
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  19. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    The headphone jack at the front isn't only for swapping. Headphones don't really stay still and you don't want that cable pulling on the amp at 90˚
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yeah. I forget about the Atticus Fetch and Stu Beggs likes in El Lay.

    The rich people I know well live in the Bay Area. They don't go deep into the hobby, but they have some level of discernment, and don't want to hear they paid more for their shit than their neighbor. Different culturally up there though.
     
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