Tube Power Amp Reviews

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Art Dudley  |  Jan 28, 2014  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2014  |  17 comments
Domestic audio is based on two simple processes: transforming movement into electricity and electricity back into movement. Easy peasy.

Audio engineers have been doing those things for ages. Have they improved their craft to the same extent as the people who, over the same period of time, earned their livings making, say, automobiles and pharmaceuticals? I don't know. But if it were possible to spend an entire day driving a new car from 50 years ago, treating diabetes and erectile dysfunction with the treatments that were available 50 years ago, and listening to 50-year-old records on 50-year-old playback gear, the answer might seem more clear.

Art Dudley  |  Jul 01, 2014  |  4 comments
It's going to happen very soon.—Leonard Cohen, "The Great Event"

With a parts list that includes 18 new-old-stock Black Cat capacitors, 16 vintage-style Cosmos potentiometers, two Tango chokes, one Tango power transformer, and some of the loveliest steel casework I've seen on a contemporary product, no one could accuse Noriyuki Miyajima of skimping on the build quality of his company's only power amplifier, the Miyajima Laboratory Model 2010 ($9995, footnote 1). Then again, because the 2010 is an output-transformerless (OTL) tube amplifier, Miyajima-san spent considerably less on iron than would otherwise be the case. Think of the money he saved!

Art Dudley  |  Aug 28, 2018  |  15 comments
For this month's column, I did something I've occasionally set out to do but never quite managed: I lived with a new power amplifier for nearly two months, used it to enjoy a variety of records, made scads of listening notes, and wrote most of the subjective portion of my review—all without knowing what was inside it.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 25, 2019  |  4 comments
Products come and go. Some impress more than others, and in our little world, the ones that impress the most wind up in Class A of our semiannual "Recommended Components" feature.

After a product makes it to that list, if Stereophile's reviewers go more than a few years without hearing it again—in a home system or a dealer's showroom or even at an audio show—that product falls off the list, usually quietly. Thus, if a reviewer is maximally knocked out by a piece of playback gear, yet the fates allow neither a purchase nor an extended loan, he or she or someone else on staff must endeavor to borrow it again so it can stay recommended.

Art Dudley  |  Jan 28, 2020  |  87 comments
Only recently did I learn that successive generations of the Chevrolet Corvette are referred to by the cognoscenti with two-character alpha-numeric identifiers: C1, C2, C3, and so on. I learned this while reading about the most recent version—C8, known to non-cognoscenti as the 2020 Corvette—which happens to be the first version since C2 that impresses me. (I say that as one who used to work for the owner of a C3, a then-middle-aged male who actually boasted, while under the influence, that he and two of his C3-owning friends drove them solely because their juvenile styling attracted juveniles. Rest assured I left his employ within days of that revelation.)
Art Dudley  |  Apr 29, 2007  |  0 comments
"Men must eat, though angels be their guests."
—William Laird, "Träumerei at Ostendorff's"
Art Dudley  |  May 27, 2007  |  0 comments
Today is Monday, February 5, and it's so buttercupping cold outside that the custodian couldn't get our school's oil burner started. Consequently, my daughter is home for the day, playing on the rug in front of the fireplace. (Santa brought a wooden castle and a fine selection of medieval figurines, some of which are headed for the dungeon as we speak.) I'm at my desk in the music room, on the upwind side of the house—and the wind is murder. The west wall is cold. The north wall is cold. The floorboards are cold. But the air inside is warm as toast: I'm driving my Quad ESL speakers with a Joule Electra VZN-80 amplifier ($12,000) that isn't at all bashful about squandering a goodly amount of energy as heat. I can't think of a more delightful quality for an amp to have, at least on a day like this.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 29, 2007  |  0 comments
When audio designer Ken Shindo was a little boy, his father kept an enormous collection of 78rpm records in their home in Tokyo. During the final days of World War II, the Japanese authorities did their best to evacuate the city, but the elder Shindo was steadfast: He refused to leave, for fear that the records would be gone when he returned.
Dick Olsher  |  Jun 30, 2009  |  First Published: Jan 30, 1995  |  0 comments
Neither its rather pedestrian name nor Manley Labs' own literature gives much of a clue as to the 175 monoblock's special pedigree. Where are the bands, the fanfare?! After all, the rolling-out of a 6L6–based high-power audiophile-grade tube amplifier definitely qualifies in my book as a momentous occasion. Deplorably, such happenings are rare indeed; the 6L6 has been unjustly neglected in high-end circles.
Paul Bolin  |  Sep 22, 2002  |  0 comments
There's something special about big tube amplifiers. No other audio component has such a primal appeal or can so quickly reduce grown (?) audiophiles to Homer Simpsons sighing, "Mmmmm...toooobs." EveAnna Manley, president of Manley Laboratories, understands the effect of high-powered tubes on the audiophile brain and shares the obsession. A Harley rider, mountain climber, and devoted music lover, she is one of the industry's most individualistic characters. You just have to appreciate a gal who ends each CES by blaring Rage Against the Machine at top volume.
Jonathan Scull  |  Jul 24, 2009  |  First Published: Dec 24, 1995  |  0 comments
My reviews always begin in bizarre ways. Take David Manley...please! (Just kidding.) On the last day of Winter CES 1995, I found myself towing a tuckered-out JA to a few final rooms. (This was just after the January '95 David Manley/Dick Olsher tube-rolling brouhaha, footnote 1, regarding who should do what to whom, and with which particular tube.) So as we passed Manley's room, John Atkinson thought to stick his head in (the noose) and say hello.
Steven Stone  |  Sep 11, 2009  |  First Published: May 11, 1996  |  0 comments
In the name of journalistic ethics (footnote 1) I have to come clean. David Manley once gave me a gift. He presented me with a large, rather heavy, Russian-made watch at the 1995 Las Vegas WCES. A very manly watch: In fact, it said "Manley" right on the dial. The watch worked fine for about six months. Then it developed a very subjective approach to timekeeping. Time stood still, and my life wasn't even passing before my eyes. The watch has become a nice, albeit slightly ugly, mini–boat anchor; now my rubber ducky stays where I put it in my bathtub.
Sam Tellig  |  Oct 22, 2012  |  First Published: Jan 01, 1996  |  0 comments
This should have been a recipe for disaster.

It's no secret. David Manley has not been big on single-ended amplifiers. Not enough muscle. You're better off with push-pull. Still, with a growing market for single-ended stuff, I'm sure Manley saw a need to do something. Of all tube designers, Manley has always been among the most prolific.

Jason Victor Serinus  |  Nov 02, 2017  |  15 comments
Prelude
The setting of the Prelude to our opera, The Margules Saga, is the California Audio Show, in August 2012. There, on first hearing Margules Audio's tube electronics, I wrote in my notebook, "great inner vitality, warm but with a welcome and appropriate bite." An encounter the following January inspired me to write, of a system that included an earlier version of the company's U280 amplifier, "The sound? Beautiful and warm. I've heard these electronics at two shows, and each time, I've left the room feeling good."
Sam Tellig  |  Aug 13, 2012  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1993  |  1 comments
Tubes, tubes, tubes.

The amps (and preamps) keep coming.

McIntosh Laboratories is back in the act with a limited-edition revival of the MC275 tube amplifier, the original of which was produced from May 1961 through July 1973—one of the longest model runs in hi-fi history.

New companies devoted to tube gear keep cropping up—in recent years, America's VAC and Cary and Canada's Sonic Frontiers. The same thing appears to be going on in the UK. The pages of British magazines are filled with new tube gear.

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