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    Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

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    Bob Latino
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    Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Bob Latino on Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:53 am

    I thought that the members would like a look at this amp ...

    Mike Samra on the Audio Asylum was given this amp to repair. It is a $5500 (new) Sophia Electric 126S-03 integrated amp MADE IN CHINA. Virgina USA?, NO! This amp is a ripoff for $5500.

    1. Look at the output transformers in the second photo below. They have double covers and even if you take off the first cover, they have a second cover which is non removable unless you take the whole amp apart. You cannot see the transformer plates on this amp like on a Dynaco ST-70. Inside the second cover is a TINY output transformer that is a lot smaller than even a Dynaco ST-35 output transformer ... That output transformer is WAY undersized for an amp in this power range and price range.

    2. No driver board ? OK - it is wired point to point with looooong resistor leads. The quality of the wiring makes me think that this $5500 amp was wired by a wino on New Year's Eve.

    3. See those triode/pentode switches? They look good from the top of the amp BUT - look at the wiring. The triode/pentode switches are not even wired up. No wires attached to them!

    The Chinese make a nice LOOKING amp on the outside yet on the INSIDE where it counts, there are cheap parts, crappy wiring and extremely poor reliability at least on this amp. I am not trying to paint ALL Chinese manufacturer's with a broad brush ... Some of them are wired pretty well on the inside ... This one, however, is not ..

    Bob










    Last edited by Bob Latino on Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:23 pm; edited 1 time in total

    gener8r

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by gener8r on Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:35 pm

    "The quality of the wiring makes me think that this $5500 amp was wired by a wino on New Year's Eve."

    Bob, tell us how you really feel!  LMAO........

    Yeah, the Chinaman (or Chinawoman) that wired it was probably paid all of $0.55.  

    I probably can guess the answer, but do you think the tubes they sell under the Sophia Electric name are worth the prices they ask for them?  Example; 12AX7s made in China for $100.00 each?  Their 300Bs are astronomical.  

    Just goes to show you the power of marketing and the role perception plays in the decisions people make to spend that kind of money of these kinds of products.

    Captain Coconut

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Captain Coconut on Sun Mar 16, 2014 12:55 pm

    Stuff like this reminds me why I like to DIY my gear as much as possible.

    DynakitParts
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    Sophia Electric

    Post by DynakitParts on Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:01 pm

    Let's hope this is the way the build their military gear...

    Kevin

    dougmon

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by dougmon on Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:17 pm

    I don't know about everyone else, but I was _inspired_ by this. When I looked at the wiring, all I could think was "Hmmm...I bet I can do better...."

    sKiZo

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by sKiZo on Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:47 pm

    I DID do better ... and I didna do all that great!  My junk drawer looks better organized. scratch 

    Wonder what the price would have been for the "actual working PT" option ... extra grand maybe??

    PS ... those oversize castings that cover the undersized OTs probably cost more than what it would have to just go with decent iron.

    MarcVBelgium

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    Sophia Electric

    Post by MarcVBelgium on Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:14 am

    This looks bad, very bad.....
    Admittedly, not all Chinese products are made as such.....far better examples like PrimaLuna, Icon Audio (both designed in Europe but built in China under supervision of the designers) or Eastern Electric (Alex Yeung) are built to much higher standards. Fact is, four years ago, I started my "tube" listening with Eastern Electric M-156 Mono's. They were OK, nicely built with quality components, BUT....... the EL-156 tube had a tendency to "blow" and after the spare tubes were gone, it was very hard to find new ones as they were only made by Shuguang and EA wins no prize in customer support. A nicely built (and sounding) amp, but not being able to get new power tubes was very frustrating,so, I sold them back to the Belgian distributor after 3 years and today, I am really enjoying my
    VTA-ST-120 . Magnificent sounding, fabulous feedback by Bob and the Forum, built like a tank and with readily available tubes (with even the choice between 6550, KT-88, KT-120)
    Thanks for this "life insurance" :-))))
    A happy ST-120 owner
    Marc (Belgium)

    Tom

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Tom on Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:41 am

    Ah. I see the source of your confusion.

    Those beautiful transformer covers

    are made in Virginia...

    Razz


    arledgsc

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by arledgsc on Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:02 am

    Holy cow!   Mad   Almost blew coffee on the computer monitor when I saw the gut shot.

    GP49

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by GP49 on Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:24 pm

    The Chinese are known for doing this kind of crap when proper quality control is not enforced.

    Years back, assembly of the famous Pentax K1000 35mm SLR camera was moved from Japan to Hong Kong.  Fine; the cameras from Hong Kong were just as well-built, though some changes such as a plastic top cover instead of chromed brass were made.  Then assembly was moved to China and some more parts were made lower-priced.  As long as the Pentax quality control people were in the factory, which was whenever the genuine Pentax product was being assembled, all was OK.  But under contract, the Chinese were also permitted to use the same facility to build cameras for their domestic market under several different names.  None carried the "Pentax" brand but they were obviously of the same mechanical design.  Some even bore names like "Mingka K1000."  This is a frequently-seen arrangment when the Chinese assemble goods for a well-known, legititmate company outside China.  Typically this kind of production occurs in the same factory after regular hours, and it is done under "Chinese quality control."  

    While the Pentax-branded cameras were just fine, quality-controlled, checked and adjusted individually by Japanese and Hong Kong technicians, the Chinese off-brand domestic market production was a disaster.  Critical parts in the shutter mechanism were not precisely machined so the shutter speeds were inaccurate.  The gears weren't as well finished so the mechanism felt rough when it was wound.  Adjustments were slapdash.  But the cameras were CHEAP...in the People's Stores, less than 30% of what a real Pentax K1000 would cost.

    Cheap enough, I thought, that I could afford one as a curiosity, even if it malfunctioned and became a paperweight.  Once I got back to the USA I was able to fire the shutter six times and then it quit.  I fix my own cameras anyway, so I dug inside this brand-new Chinese wonder, and found that one of the rubberized silk shutter curtains had come adrift from its roller shaft because some make-it-quick Chinese assembler had glued it without wiping off the oil left over from the machining operation.  Glue doesn't stick well to oil!

    Easy enough to fix if you've got the skill set...but even after I adjusted it, the shutter is still somewhat inaccurate though barely within Pentax specifications (real Pentax K1000, even built in China, meet their specs handily).  At least it's a paperweight that now goes CLICK.  The lens that came with it, however, is perfectly fine except that it's not as nicely finished as a real Pentax lens.  Sharp as a tack, actually.  I learned later that the glass elements were imported to China as prebuilt modules from Japan.

    It is not a large leap for an American, British or other company to have goods built in China but to cut costs by using "Chinese quality control."  On the other hand, Pentax established company-owned factories in the Philippines and in Vietnam, instead of continuing to do business with the Chinese.

    pmarcin

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by pmarcin on Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:13 pm

    There are so many examples of horrid, Chinese quality control. Getting a working DVD was crap shoot; Dell laptop early failures; Bizzy Bee abandoning the TAD-60; massive tire stem failures. On and on.

    Kevin, FIY, the Chinese are using US and European sub-assemblies, e.g., Cummins engines, in their military systems.

    Guest
    Guest

    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Guest on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:13 pm

    well, I am really not that surprised with this built from China.
    As has already been said, not all stuff out of China is bad, but unfortunately a LOT is. Caveat emptor!!!

    When I was living in Australia, I did a lot of business with Chinese suppliers & manufacturers. I travelled there so often they got to me at Chinese Immigration....was never sure if that was a good thing or not!

    Anyway, I ended up employing a trusted local tech person that did a lot of legwork for me, visiting the factories and suppliers, QC, AND most important to make sure they are shipping what I ordered and paid for!
    I had very few problems, BUT, I, and in the end my clients, had to pay for it, by lots of traveling and employing a local in China!

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Tube Nube on Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:47 pm

    It's not just a matter of quality being poor, such workmanship brings real risks of electric shock, or worse, fire.

    tubes4hifi
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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by tubes4hifi on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:22 pm

    if you want cheap Chinese, then buy a Yaquin, at least you get what you pay for (a $400 amp for $400).
    Maybe those tranny covers are made in Virginia USA ?
    So you tell me, are those Sophia tubes they sell for $200 worth it . . . ? I'd rather pay $200 for an AC power cord.
    You can get the same tube labeled Sino instead of Sophia for about $8.
    Gee, now I wonder if the Sophia Electric people have a forum we can post pics and comments on !!
    So bottom line is, you pay $5000 for the amp, $200 is for parts, $20 for labor, and $4780 for the Sophia execs and advertising budget.

    Guest
    Guest

    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Guest on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:35 pm

    its not just the Sophia, I just cannot get my head around some of the tube amp prices out there.
    Sure, there is engineering & design time, "high" quality materials & components, yes, even allow for the uniqueness that it is a tube amp.....but for goodness sake, $3K to up $10K????????????....really?
    There are too many people out there with more money than brains....oh and the so called status symbol I guess........what a farce though!

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Tube Nube on Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:52 pm

    What a marketing machine! And they offer an extended warranty, up to a year, on their tubes for an extra charge, of course.


    MarcVBelgium

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by MarcVBelgium on Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:54 am

    MontanaWay wrote:its not just the Sophia, I just cannot get my head around some of the tube amp prices out there.
    Sure, there is engineering & design time, "high" quality materials & components, yes, even allow for the uniqueness that it is a tube amp.....but for goodness sake, $3K to up $10K????????????....really?
    There are too many people out there with more money than brains....oh and the so called status symbol I guess........what a farce though!

    Couldn't agree more. If someone wants to spend that much money, then go for a McIntosh,
    which is built with pride and can be owned with pride.
    Personally, I could be no more proud then I am with my ST-120 which, by the way, sounds just as good
    as a Mac

    Alan-14

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Alan-14 on Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:10 am

    As Bob said ... not all Chinese made amps suffer from crap workmanship.

    Melody amps are beautifully wired point to point.

    http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/melody/melody_2.html

    GP49

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by GP49 on Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:19 am

    MontanaWay wrote:its not just the Sophia, I just cannot get my head around some of the tube amp prices out there.
    Sure, there is engineering & design time, "high" quality materials & components, yes, even allow for the uniqueness that it is a tube amp.....but for goodness sake, $3K to up $10K????????????....really?
    There are too many people out there with more money than brains....oh and the so called status symbol I guess........what a farce though!


    Of that, how much "engineering and design," REALLY? Most of them use old circuit designs. Not much new, there. I would guess that far more time and effort go into the cosmetics of the product, which goes to show what the target market is: the golden eye backed by a golden pocketbook; NOT the golden ear. The kind of customer they are after is the one who can't hear that nothing happens when they throw that pentode/triode switch; they only THINK they can.

    tubes4hifi
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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by tubes4hifi on Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:51 am

    oh gee, I say this everyday!! There are too many people out there with more money than brains....
    Take note - before you start throwing money at the lastest hi-end amp of the month that costs $5000 or more (or even a $500 tube kit)
    please use some common sense and also don't ask ME questions that are just as easily answered by using GOOGLE (google??? what's that??)
    ooh!! I'm sorry, you're trying to do that on your "smartphone" instead of using a real computer . . . .  Sad 

    michaelsamra

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    I wish I would have seen this earlier.

    Post by michaelsamra on Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:54 am

    This amp was something else..I upgraded it with Russian teflons,35uf polypro bypasses on each filter cap which are three of them,Schotkey diodes, grid resistors on the tube sockets as opposed to wire extensions and it improved it a lot but now this amp was not anywhere near the performance of the Latino amps which are 95% American made and they are a fraction of the cost of this atrocity.

    pedrocols

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by pedrocols on Thu Dec 31, 2015 6:24 pm

    In this review the author says "Opening up the 126S chassis I saw a well laid out clutter free interior with point to point wiring." Click>> What a Joke

    Tube Nube

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Tube Nube on Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:22 am

    pedrocols wrote:In this review the author says "Opening up the 126S chassis I saw a well laid out clutter free interior with point to point wiring." Click>> What a Joke

    Of the three versions, he says ". . . I prefer the later."

    Hmmmm. Illiterate too.

    $12k for the self biasing version? I am in the wrong business.

    vtshopdog

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by vtshopdog on Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:42 pm

    You guys have it all wrong:

    The black inner cover hiding the tiny transformer is made of proprietary Ferro-Electromagnetic-ionizing ceramic infused composite.  Combined with the special brushed Zirconium aluminum heat trapping outer tranny cover, ions produced by the inner cover catalyticly purify 99.76503% of all electrons passing through the precision transformer windings resulting in better depth, wider sound stage, more natural mid range and extremely clear but non fatiguing highs.  Impure, dirty electrons are the cause of dirty sound!!  

    As with all Virginia USA amps, bass is tight, clean and non boomy.  (Unless, of course, you happen to prefer boomy bass, in which case one simply flips the special low damping inductor-flux switch located on top panel to "boom-bass" mode)


    (My apologies:  Sitting in car on return drive from family trip with nothing better to do than type this blather ...)

    (Virginia USA - if you need a copy writer I have about 4 more hours of drive left....)

    Kentley

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    Re: Sophia Electric > "Virginia, USA" - yeah sure ..

    Post by Kentley on Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:06 pm

    vtshopdog wrote:The black inner cover hiding the tiny transformer is made of proprietary Ferro-Electromagnetic-ionizing ceramic infused composite.  Combined with the special brushed Zirconium aluminum heat trapping outer tranny cover, ions produced by the inner cover catalyticly purify 99.76503% of all electrons passing through the precision transformer windings resulting in better depth, wider sound stage, more natural mid range and extremely clear but non fatiguing highs.  Impure, dirty electrons are the cause of dirty sound!!  

    As with all Virginia USA amps, bass is tight, clean and non boomy.  (Unless, of course, you happen to prefer boomy bass, in which case one simply flips the special low damping inductor-flux switch located on top panel to "boom-bass" mode)

    You missed your calling. You are a True Artist {of B.S.}.

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