Jolida 502b, Manley Stingray & VTL- I85 compare ?

I would like to find out if anyone can compare these three
integrated's on my short list. I can not listen for myself.
I want to try tubes in place of the SS that I have now.
I am using JM Labs Electra 926's with an Audio Aero Prima
CD player. I would like info on the sound as well as the
quality of the units. My room is 13'x 26'(@2700 cubic feet). I listen to classic rock, rock and contemporary blues . It is 'rock' so I like it somewhat loud!
Is the Jolida mod by Underwood a significant improvement
over stock ? I can get a used stock unit for $700 and a new
modded unit for $1549 with warranty.
Thank you in advance.
I have a stock Jolida 302b from Underwood hifi that has no problems driving
my Mission 751s (89dB, 6Ohm) to loud levels. My first tube integrated as
well. The 302b actaully feels like it has more power than my Linn LK85 (85W)
power amp. The 302b is very dynamic with great rhythm and pace. The only
thing is that the bass could be tighter, which I believe is true for the 502b.
The 502b should make a good unit for listening to Rock.

However, all of this depends on the sensitivity and impedance of your

Another tube amp to consider might be the Cayin TA 30. I heard many good
things about it and it can use KT88 tubes as well as EL34s. Sorry, but I have
not had a chance to listen to the other amps. I'm interested in the other
anwers you might get though.

Good luck!
I can't compare these three, but I have the Manley Stingray here and I can assure you it rocks. I don't listen to too much classic rock anymore but I got out the Who "Who's Next" the other night and the 'Ray put it out there in fine style. My old Nad C370 just killed that CD and I had given it up for a lifeless recording. Not so!
If you haven't already, check the new 6 moons review. You can access it from the Manley site. Good luck.
Excuse me for adding to your list, but I am using an Audio Aero Prima Hybrid amp with the Prima CDP, and if you want that tube warmth with a tight, punchy bass, I've yet to find a better combination. For rock, classic rock, and blues, you would be hard pressed to beat it.
I should also say that I've owned the 502B, and have heard the Stingray extensively. Neither have bass that approaches the Prima Hybrid. Not even the CJ 140 had as much bass as the Prima. This is one amazing amplifier!
"Another tube amp to consider might be the Cayin TA 30. I heard many good
things about it and it can use KT88 tubes as well as EL34s."

This is a great little amp, but be aware that it can only use the KT88's if has been modded with new bias pots, such as Paul does on the ones he sells.
Thanks, Jdrox for the correction. The Jolida 302B can be upgraded to a 502 in
the same way, so that it can use only KT88 tubes. I am not sure though about
Verastarr's conversion, I thought that one works for both EL34 and KT88 by
choosig some intermediate value of the bias resistors. The Verastarr 302b/
502b might be worth checking out.

Boa2, since I have seen your recommendation for the Aero Prima before: How
does the prima compare to the Unison Unico for example? The Aero Prima
CDP and hybrid amp do look very interesting. I have seen your posts on the
CDP, would you mind eloborating on the sound of the hybrid?


I've heard the Unico at length, both at a (nearly) local dealer, as well as at a friend's house. He had replaced the stock tube with a Telefunken, while the dealer was playing the amp completely stock. I was also listening with my wife on all occasions, and we had a similar opinion of the Unico.

Some of the characteristics of the Unico that we noticed:
Excellent clarity. Good detail as well. We both liked it better than the Pathos Classic One, though neither of us was enamored with the Unico for several reasons. We never felt close to the music. It was colored just enough, even ashy sounding at the dealer, to keep us analyzing the music as opposed to being enveloped by it. In fact, we both loved the engaging quality of the Jolida amps much more. The Jolida's simply lacked--for our purpose--a tight and punchy bottom end.

We heard the Prima hybrid for ten seconds, and we were sold. "That's it!" we both said. It has the best instrument separation I've heard, and everything just sounds like it's in the right place. Superb dynamics, a real depth to the sound. Upgrading the PC helped as well. It is warm AND detailed, with tremendous bass presence. I can listen to it for hours, and many times will opt to play the softer music on it (as opposed to our SET system) just for a change of pace. We played around with the tube, and found we like the Siemens best.

When mated with the Prima CDP, it was as though both components were allowed to really shine. We use the hybrid amp primarily for more bass-oriented music, and you would not believe the musicality that emerges even from music that had always sounded harsh to me: My Bloody Valentine, for example. The amp sounds like the Jolida, with more authority and definition in the top end and midrange, and a MUCH bigger impact in the bottom end. I think I've said this in previous posts, but the amp is perfect, as though a masterful conductor is presiding over the music.

Sorry to be so wordy. I'm not the best editor.

All the best,
Saki70, I hope we are not abusing your thread here by discussing the Aero
Prima vs Jolida.

Howard (Boa2), thanks for your great description of the Prima (I always liked
your detailed and great descriptions/reviews in discussions here on
audiogon, no problem with being too wordy).

Engaging is probably the best description of the Jolida. One of the best
affordable amps I have heard in that respect. Running stock tubes on my
302b so far, it is missing only some detail especially in the highs. Bass could
be a little tighter as you say. I just got some Svetlana EL34, EH 12AX7 and
Mullard 12AT7. Installing them yesterday my preliminary impressions were
huge improvements in the highs with much more extension and detail. As far
as I can tell the bass got slightly tighter and bunchier as well, however not
quite on par with the Linn Solid State pream/amp I used before. I wish I could
listen to the Prima in comparison to the Jolida but there's just no dealers
down here in the desert in New Mexico.

Saki70, I hope the description of the Jolida will help you a little bit as well.
Sorry I can't tell you much about the Underwood mods (although I bought my
stock unit there. I would be interested in answers to that questions as well.
Sounds like the Prima Hybrid might be a good match in your system, though.

Best regards and Good luck to you, Saki70,


I should have said the same as far as running away with Saki70's thread. Hopefully, all of these peripheral comments will be useful to him/her.

With your Jolida, I might suggest getting an NOS tube for your 12AX7's: Mullard, Telefunken, or the sort. You will experience an opening of the soundstage, and a warmer authority over the music. The EH's are somewhat dry and narrow in their presentation, IMO. An NOS tube will bring a more emotional presentation to that amp.

Once again, Saki70, I really believe that you would find your music to be best presented with the Prima Hybrid amp, especially in combination with the Prima CDP, and because as you crank the Jolida and the Manley, the bass end becomes somewhat bloomy, thus losing controlled impact. Your reference is SS, remember. Not such a big deal on classical or jazz maybe, but if your preferences are as you state in rock-oriented music, the Prima Hybrid is going to give you the bottom end lovin' you'll want. Excuse me if I'm not properly addressing your needs, but this is what I've inferred from your post.

All the best,
Boa2; your suggestion of the Audio Aero sounds intriuging. I wonder if it's 40 watts is enough to drive
my big floorstanders ? The sensitivity is 91 or 92. I have been told that I should have at least 100, high current,
watts to drive the Electra's.
All of the answers have been informing ! Keep'em coming.
Thank you.

I've been using the Hybrid Amp with 89db speakers, and I can't turn the amp past 10 o'clock--and that's when listening to Tool. You would have ample power, I'm sure.
It makes such a great combo with the Prima CDP.

The newest Prima Hybrid amp can be found (check or place a wanted on for the $1300 range, and is 50W. It also has remote control, but does not have the sub/pre out like the older version.

Finally, a NEW NEW version is coming out early next year--100W. 40W has been plenty for us, and would fill a room much bigger than ours 14' x 14'.
Saki70, good to hear that we didn't lead your thread astray too much.

By the way: I have seen the older(?) version of the Audio Aero HyBrid here on audiogon for as little as $750. For some reason they seem to be selling fairly slow. Although that should change if more people are reading your (Boa2) enthusiastic threads here on Audiogon. Are there any differences to the newer version?

Howard (Boa 2), thanks for the suggestions for the tubes. I have been hoping somebody would suggest some tube rolling on my virtual systems page. I noticed a big change in going to the Mullard for the 12AT7. More involving (hard to believe but true), better timing and rhythm and even better smoother midrange with out softening the bass and the highs too much. The gold pin EH 12AX7 brough in a lot more detail but sounded a little more sterile compared to the stock Jolida tubes. Only problem is that the 12AX7 NOS are usually much more expensive than the 12AT7. Well maybe sometime later.
I know this isn't on your "short list" but do yourself a favor and put ROGUE AUDIO Tempest (integrated) on that list. Actually, since your room is a little big you might want to try the Tempest MAGNUM. It is 90WPC compared to the 60WPC of the "standard" tempest. Which is what I own. I too had a SS and wanted to change to tubes so I purchased the Tempest with NO regrets. The tempest is heavy and built like a tank, and makes instuments and vocals come ALIVE. The second big selling point for me was that it is switchable from pentode to triode mode which gives you 2 different types of tube sound so you can have some variety. Just my .02 cents. Good Luck.