Manley Labs Steelhead phono preamplifier Manufacturer's Comment
Editor: WOW! Mikey likes it! Thank you so much for your honkin' great review of our new Steelhead Phono Stage. That the only severe complaint you have about our upstream-swimming Fono Fish is regarding our gaudy gold cosmetics, well, hell, I couldn't agree with you more! Although there are those audiophiles who prefer the shiny gold look, it hasn't ever been my personal favorite, so I started moving us back to our ol' black'n'blue cosmetics in September. By CES we'll be fully switched over and in compliance, although if you don't like my knobs, I will have to take personal offense at that. :)
Being the Tube Queen (not too much competition for that title), when Mitch told me he was going to sneak a JFET into my world, I reacted to this much as you did: with equal suspicion and prejudice, as most thermionic devotees would. But then, seeing as it would perform no voltage amplification and function as a transconductance amplifier by turning voltage fluctuations into current fluctuations, thus harboring none of the nasties that people usually associate with FETs, even I started to warm up to the idea. Early listening tests induced smiles all around, and our beta testers voted positively with their wallets. That JFET is so the right tool for the job, and definitely key to the Steelhead's subterranean noise floor and the gateway to the list of superlatives—"spectacular," "rhythmic," "musical," "breathtaking," "coherent," "unrestrained," "astounding"—that you have graciously heaped on the unit. Dang, I haven't been so enlightened by a new technology since my folks gave me my first Close and Play and a Jackson 5 single.
You know, we love to have fun at this gig, and Michael, I dig how you picked up on our twisted audio humor in our manuals, website, and on the product itself—and especially how you dish it right back at us. Good one. One question, though: when you do the secret Dim+Sum button trick, do you find yourself hungry after two hours?—EveAnna Manley, President, Manley Laboratories