Manley Labs - Manley 'Steelhead' Reference Phono-Stage

 (with Wireless Remote Volume Control)

Manley Labs



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The Absolute Sound - 2013 Editors' Choice Awards
The Absolute Sound - 2012 Editors' Choice Awards
2011 Absolute Sound Editors' Choice Awards
The Absolute Sound - 2010 Editors' Choice Awards
Absolute Sound Editors Choice 2009
The Absolute Sound - 2008 Editors' Choice Awards
The Absolute Sound 2007 Editors' Choice Award
The Absolute Sound - 2006 Editors' Choice Awards
Stereophile Class A

* Now Includes Wireless Remote Volume Control!* 

To quote Scot Markwell of The Absolute Sound: "This is, and by a good margin, the finest phono-amplifier I have ever heard, in my system or anyone else's." We couldn't agree more. The Steelhead completely redefines what is possible in the arena of vinyl playback and music reproduction in general. It is also the most flexible phono-preamp ever designed. It will work with the lowest-output moving coil and the most robust moving-magnet cartridges. And its front panel impendence and capacitive loading options can be set "on-the-fly" while listening to your favorite recordings. Michael Fremer of Stereophile, who just purchased the Steelhead as his long-term reference, had this to say: "Overall, the Steelhead delivered the best vinyl playback I've heard from my system. It combined speed, frequency extension, resolution, harmonic structure, focus, air, stage depth, image specificity, and, most important, overall musical coherence in a way that made music seem to fly from the speakers unrestrained by mechanical or electrical bounds."

PREAMP OF THE YEAR 2004 - The Absolute Sound
"A Golden Ear Award winner this year, Manley Labs' Steelhead is one of the great preamps. Ostensibly a phonostage, the Steelhead also has a pair of line-level inputs (and the freshly caught Skipjack switcher lets you add more) that allows you to use it as your main preamp. Which is what you'll want to do, as the Steelhead is one of the quietest, most detailed, and highly musical preamps out there." - Wayne Garcia, The Absolute Sound, February/March 2005

  • Vacuum tube compliment: 6922 SOVTEK Russian x 2 (gain) plus JAN NOS GE 7044 x 4 (output buffers)
  • Fuse type and ratings @ 117 VAC operation: 1.5 Amp 3AG slow-blow mains fuse, 0.5 Amp 3AG slow-blow logic fuse
  • Fuse type and ratings @ 230 VAC operation: 0.75 Amp 3AG slow-blow mains fuse, 0.25 Amp 3AG slow-blow logic fuse
  • Moving Magnet input impedance: 5-step user adjustable via fixed low-noise resistors. 25, 50, 100, 200 and 47000 ohms.
  • Moving Coil input impedance: 5-step user adjustable via multi-tap autoformer: 25, 50, 100, 200 and 400 ohms.
  • Input Termination Capacitance: Front Panel Selectable in 10 picofarad steps from 10 to 1100 pF (1.1nF) Residual input capacitance less than 40 pF.
  • Gain: 4-step user adjustable, 50, 55, 60 and 65 dB active gain at 1 kHz referred to the FIXED output jack into a 10Kohm load. Additional gain available via the MC input's step-up autoformer. See Owner's Manual for discussion.
  • Deviation from RIAA curve: Less than +0.5 / -0.3 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at any gain setting. Typically less than +/- 1 dB from 10 Hz to 100 kHz
  • Inter-channel differential phase: Less than 4 degrees from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at any gain setting. Typically less than 2 degrees.
  • Inter-channel differential gain: Less than +/- 0.5 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz at any gain setting.
  • Dynamic Range: 101 dB @ 1 kHz, 1% THD measured with 200 ohm source, 47Kohm input, @ 55dB Gain 97 dB @ 1 kHz, 0.1% THD
  • THD: 0.0042% at 1V output @1kHz
  • Maximum LINE input level: +30.6dBu @ 1KHz for an output of +29.3dBu @ 0.07% THD, 26.5Vrms @ 1KHz for an output of 22.8Vrms @ 0.07% THD
  • Maximum Output: +27dBm @ 1KHz with 3% THD into 100Kohm load
  • Fixed Output impedance: 150 ohms. Minimum suggested load greater than 1500 ohms.
  • Variable Output impedance: 75 ohms. Minimum suggested load greater than 600 ohms.

Customer Reviews (5.00 Stars) 3 person(s) rated this product.

Endless options, all good.

posted on 03/23/2011
5 Stars
Running an MC to the MM input renders more refined highs. Also removes just a touch of low end slam so my table is routed to both & I can select w/out having to patch cables. Running the fixed outputs to the line in & sending the vari outs to the amp is the most transparent option. Don't know why but it is.

For clarity I like the MM setting with the load at 400. Horns jump out but never sound glary. Voices are rich/fat/textured and hover in the room. Drums hit you in the chest with speed while retaining a pillowy soft edge.

For punch I like the MC setting at 100 which rolls off the highs and lets the lows dominate. This resembles the Levinson sound where instruments seem to appear out of the black. At MM drums sound like they're in the room, with MC they're punching your stomach-you choose.

Manley has a warped sense of humor as evidenced by the remote which looks like a 1970's garage door opener. Never happier than when it's in my hand though as this is an amazing piece of gear.

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