Manley Stingray

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Man, it’s a serious piece of head banger kit. Stone cold rocking tube amps are like gay loving Republicans.  We know they’re probably out there in the wild, but like Bigfoot, rarely seen. But this 40-watt/channel amp (in ultralinear mode; 20 watts in triode mode) can actually be brought home, where it will play nice with most everybody—and REALLY LOUD. But it also doesn’t mind getting all sweet and low.

It took me a while to wrap my head around this crazy, but very handsome looking, six-sided amp beastie.  The four gold plated inputs and outputs for each channel are ganged up on the amp’s respective left/right sides. Each input group has its own selector switch.  So it’s effort times two every time you select a different source.

Flip on the power, the tubes charge up, and the front panel emits a Manley logo glow. It’s all very Steampunk.

You will need a separate phono preamp when using a turntable with the Stingray. The $159 Pro-Ject Phono box II will work really well with either the Pro-Ject Debut III or Rega P1 TT rigs. For about $500 bucks you get the whole black vinyl bean chimichanga.

In this Stingray amp review I primarily used my horn loaded, full range, floor standing Ta’us speakers. A UK outfit by the name of Impulse, may they RIP, used to make them.

The Ta’us speakers are brilliant, corrupt politicians.  Feed them a good amp meal and they immediately change their tune. And the better the electric grub, the better their audio role call. The Ta’us did a Jack Abramoff and immediately sold their acoustic souls to the Stingray, and for only 20 measly watts, no less.

But you would never know they allowed themselves to be rolled so cheap. The Stingray/Ta’us combination floored me, and everyone else who had the good fortune to hear it.

Brass music was so crisp, round, fully edged and just so there, there. Instruments were buffed to a soul reflecting spit shine.

Complex percussion pieces featuring bells, drums, and all other kinds of things that could be patted, banged, and clanged, which on lesser setups quickly fall apart into a smeared hangover blur were all cleanly and spatially rendered; familiar recordings were suddenly rendered anew.


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