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Manley Neo-Classic SE/PP 300B Monoblock Amplifier Review Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
Article Index
Manley Neo-Classic SE/PP 300B Monoblock Amplifier Review
Listening Continued and Conclusion
Interview with Chris Dauray of Manley Labs

AVRev: Can you tell us what role you play at Manley and how you got started in a career in high end audio?

Chris Dauray: What role do I play? Well, we all wear many hats over here. I started out at Manley in the summer of 2003 while on summer break from college on the east coast. I was studying music - performance, composition, theory, and recording - and this was a family business already, so it was the logical choice for me. My grandfather (EveAnna's dad) used to own Ampeg back in the late '60s, so the behind-the-scenes of the music biz was already firmly implanted in me. That summer was the beginning of it all. I spent the following summers in Chino learning to solder, wind transformers, test tubes, and fix gear, and I moved to LA permanently in 2006 after I graduated from college.

So what do I do now...for the last few years I've been hand-building our microphones, and working with EveAnna extensively on our marketing and sales projects for both Hi-fi and Pro gear. Trade shows are a big part of it as well, and I'm moving towards doing the marketing and advertising thing full-time. This is partially because I really, really love fonts.

AVRev: Why do you think tube amps are still around and as considering solid state technology has advanced tremendously from its beginnings?

Chris Dauray: I think part of it is science, and part of it is culture. Science-wise: A vacuum tube is a more inherently linear device for voltage amplification than a transistor in a similar circuit. Transient content is better-preserved, because less global feedback is needed to correct for non-linearity. Also, the gigantic potential energy storage in the power supply of a tube amp gives these transients room to breathe. This transient content is where so much of the music is; overtones are what make up the texture and nuance of an instrument, and that texture is vital to accurate and musical sound reproduction. That's the short answer.

From a cultural standpoint, there's a certain allure to tubes that has not gone away - nor do I believe it will in the foreseeable future. Guitar players have always loved tubes because it's simply more FUN and engaging to play a guitar through a responsive tube amp. They clip gracefully (unlike solid-state circuits), and have a magic to them that may sometimes be intangible, but is almost always recognized. Plus, think of it this way - it takes no small amount of effort and money to build a good tube amp (quality parts are expensive!), so *generally* one can assume these manufacturers care about their product, and not just about how much money it's making them. I think people appreciate companies that really BELIEVE in what they do and have a REASON for why they do it.

AVRev: Manley has a reputation of making very fairly priced, superbly built gear. What is the secret?

Chris Dauray:  It's funny you should say that, because we (as a company) inhabit two very different worlds. In the realm of professional audio, we build some of the highest-quality, priciest gear available. In the hi-fi world, our equipment is FAR from the most expensive, though our quality standards remain the same.

It comes down to a philosophy: End users deserve honest, realistic pricing, and we try very hard to give them that. Our pricing structure is the same in both the hi-fi and pro markets - the pricing is fair for everyone. We make a little money, our distributors make a little money, and our dealers make a little money. We don't believe in monstrous markups and ridiculous margins. Our pro audio customers (who use our equipment to make a living) wouldn't tolerate it, so why should our hi-fi customers?

AVRev: Lastly, vinyl or digital? And What does your dream system look like?

Chris Dauray:  Definitely 50/50. I stream music and TV and movies at my house. I'm in the car for 2-3 hours a day (turns out LA has traffic?), and my iPhone is vital to my well-being. Carrying hundreds of albums in my pocket in lossless formats to enjoy in my car, at my desk, on a's priceless. Can't beat the convenience factor.

WITH THAT SAID: When I get home after a long day, the only thing I want to do is listen to my vinyl through my tube amp and my Tannoys and have a glass of wine. That is unwinding at its finest, bar none.

Dream system, eh? Well, I've currently got a Manley Stingray and some little Tannoys...honestly, I'm really quite content. I like simplicity. I suppose some day I'd like to upgrade to larger tube monoblocks and a pair of more powerful speakers. I do love those big Tannoy Churchills...but I need a bigger room first. :)


  • Price: $7200 per pair
  • Vacuum Tubes: 2 x 300B (Output), 1 x 6SN7 (Driver), 1 x 6SL7 (Input), 2 x 5U4 (Rectifier)
  • Dimensions: W= 8.5, D= 23, H= 9 inches, Including projecting controls and parts
  • Minimum Mounting Surface Dimensions:  Feet Footprint = W= 7.5" D= 18"
  • Shipping Weight: 41 lbs.  Each.

Contact Info

Manley Laboratories, Inc.
13880 Magnolia Ave.
Chino, CA 91710 USA
(909) 627-4256


  • Seal-System:Warner Bros, 2007
  • Bert Jansch-Crimson Moon:Sanctuary, 2000
  • Robin Trower & Jack Bruce: BLT/Truce, BGO-1998
  • Johnny Mathis-The Ultimate Hits Collection: Columbia, 1998
  • Elvis Costello-when is was cruel:Island, 2002

Reviewer's Equipment

System 1:

  • CD Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
  • Preamp: Audio Research SP16, McIntosh MA6600 (Preamp secton)
  • Amplifier: Audio Research VS55,
  • Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, Audience 2 + 2
  • Cables: DH Labs, RS Cables, Kimber/QED/Acoustic Zen (AC)/Transparent (AC)/Element Cable, Shunyata, Pangea, Audience
  • Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands, Timbernation platform, CablePro Noisetrapper

System 2:

  • CD Player: Marantz 5003
  • Music Server: Squeezebox 3
  • DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply
  • Tape Deck: Revox A77, Edirol 96/24 WAV recorder
  • Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
  • Amplifier: Belles Soloist 5
  • Speaker: Spendor S3/5R
  • Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC), Pangea Audio, RS Cables, Element Cables.

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