Manley Labs Steelhead phono preamplifier Paul Bolin September 2003

Paul Bolin compared the Steelhead with the Aesthetix Rhea in September 2003 (Vol.26 No.9):

On really massive orchestral material, the Aesthetix Io Signature and Manley Steelhead have a slightly superior sense of ease when coping with huge transients, but the Aesthetix Rhea was not in the least embarrassed by the comparison.

There was perhaps a bit more image-to-image bleed-through [with the Aesthetix] than with the Io Signature or the Steelhead. Things were just a fraction more loose down low than with the Io Sig or the Steelhead....On the Beethoven concerto, the spacious acoustic of Boston's Symphony Hall filled the back of my room, though the Manley Steelhead and the Io Signature illuminate the rearmost corners of the stage a pinch more evenly and completely.

[The Aesthetix Rhea] doesn't have quite the sheer speed and resolution of the Manley Steelhead or quite the massive technological overkill of the Boulder 2008—and none of that matters a bit or a smidgen.—Paul Bolin