Manley Labs has been designing and manufacturing professional and high fidelity audio equipment since the late 1980’s. In recent years, we have noticed audiophiles increasingly turning to personal headphone listening. To meet this new demand, Manley has combined its professional and domestic engineering skills and experience to develop an exciting and groundbreaking product, The Manley Headphone Amplifier.
Headphone listening is not new to us; we have been producing headphone personal “Cue Mixers” for recording studios around the globe for over twenty years. In the HiFi world, our legendary Manley Neo-Classic 300B Preamplifier has become a total cult classic with headphone listeners for the last two decades. Reaching forward, we wanted to produce a new standard and load it up with desirable features for a wide-ranged sonic experience set. The new Manley Headphone Amplifier achieves this goal and more.
There are twelve independent controls designed for maximum performance and customizable handling of sonic adjustments for a wide variety of audio experience. Of special import are the custom hand-wound air-gapped dual-mode MANLEY IRONⓇ output transformers, designed and manufactured at the Manley Labs factory in Chino, California. With a push of the button, these transformers are easily user-configured to drive three ranges of headphone loads, from 12 to 600 Ohms or greater. Additionally, the output stage can be switched on-the-fly between all-triode Push-Pull and Single-Ended topology.
The Variable Feedback switch applies from 0dB to 10dB of Global Negative Feedback around the amplifying stages while maintaining absolutely ruler-flat frequency response across the audio band, demonstrating how stable this design really is. For absolute transparency and reference tracking accuracy the Volume Control is performed by a Precision Stepped Relay ladder matrix. Furthermore, left-right Balance control is also provided to trim out uneven recordings. The Manley Headphone Amplifier operates fully symmetrically, enabling it to drive balanced headphones through its XLR outputs. Standard non-balanced ¼” TRS jacks are also provided. When the headphone amplifier is powered down, another very useful feature is included, a direct preamplifier output which routes your first line input through the system to feed an external power amplifier or powered loudspeakers. Useful, as your main audio system source can drive either playback system without having to change upstream cabling. Thus, the Manley Headphone amplifier can also be used as a stand-alone transformer-coupled preamplifier!
The Headphone Overload Protection System is also user-configurable so that exotic and precious headphones are never overdriven. We proudly incorporate our newest innovative purpose-designed-for-audio High Voltage switching power supply into our new Manley Headphone Amplifier. All super-low impedance DC rails are fully regulated and worlds quieter than any linear supply we have ever encountered. The resulting sound is fast and dynamic with deep punchy bass, dead-quiet inky blacks and superior headroom.
The Manley Headphone Amplifier also incorporates Bass and Treble Tone Control circuits. What? In an audiophile product?!! Yes! And why not? We have been building legendary equalizers for recording studios for decades. We know how to do this well! Adjust the flavor of the sound to your preference, or invoke total bypass of the EQ circuits for purist listening sessions.
The Design Team
The Manley Headphone Amplifier is a very unusual and visually striking audio sculpture, available in three different colors for today’s lifestyle choices: Champagne & White, Titanium & Bronze, or Copper & Black. Manley V.P. of Engineering and Design, Zia Faruqi, developed its concept and industrial design. “I wanted to create a design that would reflect the use of this piece of equipment. Its shape was inspired by a head, a piece that you could rest your headphones on, a piece that you want to indulge yourself in.” Mitch Margolis, of Manley Steelhead fame, worked with our lead engineer Humberto Rodriguez to finalize and finesse the unit and to bring it into production, in America, of course!