What's the rest of your system? Also, i'm not sure the manley or the bat is better than a Io. Especially so, if it was a Io Sig.
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They are both superb, and different. I wouldn't describe the Manley sound as thin especially after rolling the 6922 tubes to NOS. Obviously the Manley has much more adjustment capability compared to the BAT. The Manley is an excellent linestage as well. Both are very quiet. As with all other equipment, there is system interaction.
Hi Rich! I have to agree with Jfrech that the lo is (from what I've heard) a great phono pre-amp. I have not heard either of the two that you are interested in (the Bat and Manley). I am also interested in the Manley Steelhead, so I will follow this thread to see how you proceed and what you find.
I currently have a Rhea and I am quite happy with it. What I find MOST useful about the Rhea is the flexibility of the gain and load settings (especially the load).
Believe me there is a difference when I switch the loads on the Rhea. I can dial in the right (to me) sound that I like. The Manley is also very flexiable. I am not sure about the Bat, however.
Good luck and keep us posted!!!
Other than volume, what more can you adjust on the Manley? Now you can adjust things easier by not having to take the cover off the BAT...
The BAT VKP10SE with depth charges is a hec of phono stage. However, the newer Io mkII Sig will beat it. I've heard it numerous times at 2 friends houses. One friend went from a Manley to the Io mkII sig dual supplies. If you want the best, get the Io. If you want something that's much more plug and play, the BAT is a pretty good deal.
I've heard that same comment on the Manley, diff tubes or cartridge matching should help out. The BAT has the classic BAT sound...incredibly wet warm mids, big stage, deep tight bass soaring highs. The mids and the top end on the BAT may compete for best of class. The Io is better at inner detail, image size, flow, etc. The little things that mean so much.
The BAT does benefit by running it balanced, both input and output.