Review: Manley Laboratories Manley Mahi Tube amp

Category: Amplifiers

After Having my last pair of speakers for 18yrs.....with the odd mod to crossovers and internal wiring as well as Tweeter and woofer foam replacements. I decided to change. The sound was good but not engaging know how it goes!

In came Zu Druids Mk4/08 which I modded to greatly improve the treble & 2 Mini Methods for stereo subs. The sound was spectacular by comparison. Not so much with detail and air and all the HiFi stuff but with that LIVE performance feel and in room slam.

But still the sound was sterile and not engaging.

In came the Manley Mahis......I changed the input EH 12AT7 for some Brimar cv4033 1961 blackplates from Tubemonger (much better)

I listen to Blues mainly, reasonably loud 80-90db and I have never experienced music in a home that can almost match a live performance until now. The Mahi's switched to Triode and min feedback are truly amazing in this area... Buddy Guy is in the room and playing his guts out....Soundstage and presence galore with the guitar leaping out from the speakers. Quite different to the ARC VT50 I had for years. The ARC was more recessed with soundstage, pushing the guitar behind the speakers. Bass with the 4 x 6550s was tighter and deeper than the EL84s but the latter excels in mids. The treble is so smooth and fluid in contrast to lean and slightly harsh and ultimately fatiguing.

The biggest difference is My wife, she now wants me to turn it up......or she now doesn't mind the music being on at all!

I've experimented with all the Mahi's settings and I found Triode with minimum feedback to be the best for acoustic, blues etc at this setting I guess I have around 10 watts into my 12ohm speaker load. The Mahi's being optimized for 5 ohm loads and rated at 14w at this setting. Ultralinear with standard feedback will give me around 35w. This setting seems to be best for general party, pop, dance style music. Everything is cleaner and tighter with only a slight loss in the triode magic. Max feedback sounds subdued and brittle......similar to the ARC which interestingly had 8.5db feedback, the Mahi's have 3db on min, 6db std and 10db max.

I guess the Druids and Mini Methods have the final say in how the music sounds but the differences between these Amps is what really made the speaker come alive.

Not sure how relevant this review will be to anyone but I thought I'd share my experiences anyway.

Associated gear
Trevor Lees Audio Positive Vibrations Valve pre amp (8x163 Mullard).

Wadia 170i with Channel Islands Audio VDA2/VAC1 dac combo connected with Cardas Neutral Ref digital IC's. 80gb Ipod with WAV music.

Zu Druid Mk4/08 + Mundorf/Duelund Hi Pass upgrades. 2 x ZU Mini Method subs.

Thorens 160mk2 Modified.

Zu Libtec and Varial IC'c

Similar products
Audio Research VT50.
Rotel RCD975.
Proac Supertowers.
various IC's and speaker cables over the years from Kimber, Goertz, DH labs, Cardas, Stereovox, OCC silver Neotech,
Nice review,glad you are enjoying the Manleys.I would get them out of that cabinet, but that's just me. Monitor the heat closely.
It's the EL84's! They are the king!
I installed 2 x 120 pabst fans at the rear of the cabinet and run them with 6v so they are slow and quiet. the Mahi's remain cool to touch even after hours of use. I'd love to get them out but I have 3 girls under 7yrs who love to touch! The cabinet was designed for HiFi, open back with wire mesh doors.