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Manley Chinook Special Edition MkII Tube Phonostage Review

Sunday, June 12, 2022


$2,899. Special Edition MkII version available from Upscale Audio. Standard version available from various online and local dealers.


Highly adjustable tube phono preamp accommodates most any moving magnet or moving coil cartridge. Made in USA by lauded tube-based home and pro audio equipment maker, Manley Laboratories.

Specifications (from the manufacturer)

Vacuum-tube complement: 2 x 6922 x 2 (gain stage), 2 x 6922 (output stage). Any 6DJ8, 7308, ECC88 types may be used
Input termination capacitance (MM/MC): 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, and 350 pF
Moving magnet input impedance: 47k ohm
Moving coil (MC) input impedance: 5-position user-selectable resistor values of 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 ohm offering 32 loading options
Gain: 45, 50, 60, 65 dB
Output impedance: 91 ohm
Minimum recommended load: 2500 ohm
Internal power supply: Fully regulated linear B+, Heater, and control voltage rails.
Fuse: 500mA SLO-BLO size 5mm x 20mm
Standby transformer fuse: 10mA, SLO-BLO, MDL type size 1/4″ x 1 1/4″
Dimensions (WHD): 17″ x 3.5″ x 11″


Phono preamp was used with various moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, including Ortofon 2M Black, Denon DL-103, and Lyra Delos models. Multiple gain and loading settings were used.


Easy to use and straightforward to adjust. Quiet with just a small amount of tube noise at high volumes. Some static pops from my turntable, but only at high gain and high volume settings.


Colorful and bold. Lots of harmonic richness without being euphoric or syrupy. Big dynamic range. Drums are explosive. Fantastic imaging. Voices hang in mid-air, guitars occupy space and shimmer.

Fun to listen to for all kinds of music — from classical to jazz to rock. The string tone on classical was gorgeous, and the piano sound on well-recorded jazz was exceptional.

Compared to the PS Audio GCPH solid state balanced phono preamp ($995, discontinued), the Chinook outclasses it in all respects save for ease of adjustment. The GCPH has knobs for adjusting gain and loading (but only has four loading settings!), while the Manley uses DIP switches: internal for gain and external for loading.

The GCPH is an overachiever, but the Manley really smokes it. As it should for nearly three times the price.