CES 2016 seems like the returning of vintage audio gear. After several turntables, next is we will see tube headphone amplifier from Manley Labs.

Okay, Manley Labs is not common audio brand which we can find in common electronic audio/video store. Manley Labs specialized in professional and high fidelity audio equipment. Off course, high fidelity and high end audio is not always about speaker, but also headphone. Seeing the increasing trend in portable audio, definitely Manley Labs has no plan to miss it – as they have such experience in the past.

The Manley Headphone Amplifier _ Manley Labs

But off course after seeing the device, for sure it’s not a portable amplifier that you can carry around easily 🙂

Manley Labs is using custom hand wound air-gapped dual-mode MANLEY IRONⓇ output transformers which designed and manufactured at Manley Labs factory in Chino (not China!), California. To fulfill wide range of headphone load, Manley provides a switch which can be used to select three ranges: 12-50 Ohms, 50-200 Ohms, or 200-600 Ohms.

The output stage also can be selected on-the-fly between all triode Push Pull or Single Ended – choose between power or quality.

Audiophile has allergic with tone control? Not necessarily. Manley provides bass and treble control in this headphone amplifier. Admit it, we used to push some bass or treble to suit our taste. Off course option to bypass always available. Variable negative feedback also adjustable from 0-10 dB.

Tubes are 2x 12AT7 and 4x 6AQ5. Output can be in balanced (XLR) or unbalanced (TRS). Pre-amp output also available.

Uniquely, this amplifier can accept universal 90-250 VAC input – means switching power supply used. Again, no allergic for Audiophile!

The Manley Headphone Amplifier _ Manley Labs 2

At USD 2950 price list and 12 lbs weight, this might not be as portable and affordable for most people. But once you get inside this headphone world, price and portability might not be a reason not to own such equipment.


I’m not a big fan of headphone stuff, but have to admit some high quality headphone could amaze me – been there before. Manley Labs for sure is probably “teaching” so many headphone amplifier product out there about how to design a real headphone amplifier with this product. It’s more on the instrument grade of amplifier instead of just a tube powered headphone amplifier. Flexibility of negative feedback, bass and treble control, impedance adjustment, and finally option to go with Push Pull or Single Ended – yes, this is not just another headphone amplifier!     –Jimmy Auw