Manley Labs tease headphone amplifier at CES 2016


ces2016The award for most interesting unusual downright bonkers-looking audio product of CES 2016 goes to Manley Labs whose high-end, tubed-up pre-amplifiers and power amplifiers have earned the Californian company a formidable reputation the world over. Now comes EveAnna Manley’s first dance in the headphone space…

Manley Labs’ (literally named) Headphone Amplifier puts a pair of 12AT7A driver tubes and a quad of 6AQ5 output tubes in a pram/cradle that also houses the following: a stepped-relay thumb-wheel for volume attenuation;  0 – 10db of variable global negative feedback injection; balance control; (by-passable) treble and bass control, headphone load selector (3 modes), input selector (2 x RCA); and, most interesting of all, a toggle switch for single-ended or push-pull operation.


Of greater import to the audible performance of any tube amplifier is the quality of its output transformers. The business end of this guy is fuelled by MANLEY IRON, output transformers that are hand-wound at Manley Labs’ Chino facility. Full compatibility with headphone loads ranging from 12 Ohms to 600 Ohms is therefore ensured.

Headphone outputs are two: balanced XLR and single-ended 6.4mm. However, put the amplifier into standby mode for input one to be routed via the volume control to a pair of RCA outputs; the Manley Labs box unit is now a pre-amplifier, ready for direct connection to a power-amplifier or active loudspeakers.

The Manley Labs Headphone Amplifier is currently in prototype phase with US-based production slated for June/July of this year. Pricing has already been set: US$2995 for the standard gold and silver finishes with the far more attractive copper model running you “more”.

Further information: Manley Labs







Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


Leave a Reply
  1. Manley never disappoints and this looks to be no exception. I’m constantly on the lookout for a pair of Snapper mono-blocks at the right price…

  2. Now I may sound a little like a party pooper when I say this, however, I just can’t help it…
    this thing most certainly has a great deal of the price going to the visual design…I would be tempted to just look at it and explain to my friends I bought it at an art gallery but you can plug headphones into it and listen to music while you admire it…….JD please ….$3 grand US ……this isn’t about music is it ?

    • How much should it cost then?

      And it’s about hardware as much as it is music, otherwise we’d be listening to laptop speakers and little white earbuds, no? You or I might not be able to (or want to) afford such a device but the likes of Alex Cavalli and Woo Audio have already shown that the market is plenty big enough for high end offerings like this.

  3. Point taken JD…..and certainly I’m not one to put a price on this unit nor would I be so silly, all I was trying to say was it looks like a piece of art perhaps more than a device for the sole purpose of enjoying music and thus a good deal of the cost has nothing to do with sound and it probably is more enjoyable with your eyes open and fixed on it…..and as well a conversation piece…..