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    Chinese Tube amps ?

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    BaxterT
    Guest

    Chinese Tube amps ?

    Post by BaxterT on Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:35 pm

    I see sometimes on Ebay tube amps out of China at good prices. Anyone ever used one? How is the sound quality ? Any pros and cons of these Chinese amps vs. the older Dynaco amps ? BaxterT

    Bob Latino
    Admin

    Posts: 1957
    Join date: 2008-11-26
    Location: Massachusetts

    Chinese amps - photo

    Post by Bob Latino on Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:35 pm

    BaxterT,

    The initial price of most of the Chinese amps seems good and the fact that most of them have a built in volume control and a selector switch is nice. The volume control on most of these Chinese amps is just that > a volume control. It is not a "built in preamp" as some vendors of these amps would like you to believe. They just throw in a variable resistor somewhere in one of the gain stages to modulate the gain of the amp.

    Most of the Chinese amps have ROUND transformer covers to (many times) hide lower quality power and output transformers. Tap the round cover and you hear a "bong". Hmmmmm.. There's a lotta air inside those covers which may look large but don't really tell us the true size of the actual transformer inside the transformer cover. You will almost never see the transformer's "plates and bells" on a Chinese amp like you will on any Dynaco amp.

    Sometimes the price seems right but think about shipping costs - maybe $150 - $300 to have the amp shipped to you from China. Later on if the amp's reliability is lacking and you need service you better be ready to service the amp yourself because the cost to ship the amp back and forth to China is prohibitive. There may be a service center somewhere here in the USA for your Ming Da, Yaqin, Music Angel etc. amp but presently I don't know of one.

    I actually have one Chinese amp here. The photo of the amp is below. It is a Yaqin MC-10L EL34 based amp. I play it now and then for background music while working. The good is that it is a quiet amp with no hum or other spurious noises. The bad is that for an EL34 amp it seems lacking in the power dept. It's supposed to have 35 WPC like an ST-70 but it seems weak. Definition is OK but not outstanding and not up to the standards of a reworked Dynaco ST-70. I wonder what the transformers really look like hidden under those round cans? Maybe tube changes would help this amp but I just don't have the time to roll tubes with this amp.




    Bob


    Last edited by Bob Latino on Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:09 am; edited 2 times in total

    Tube Nube

    Posts: 328
    Join date: 2008-12-06
    Age: 51
    Location: Calgary, AB

    Re: Chinese Tube amps ?

    Post by Tube Nube on Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:29 pm

    I read a review in Stereophile, or some magazine like that, giving a positive review to a Chinese tube amp that was costing in the range of $3k to $3500. The basis for the positive review seemed to be delight with the new/increasing presence of the Chinese in this market, and what the reviewer thought to be good sound for the money, compared with similarly priced domestic amps.

    I thought long and hard about those amps, but couldn't let myself be tempted into it. The more I thought 3.5K, the more I had a nagging thought -- just spend a bit more on an American amp. A known quantity with a true-blue lineage, blah blah blah.

    Fast forward to the no-compromise present. If willing to sling a soldering iron for myself, and I am, I recently learned that I could get into an excellent amp with a solid heritage for less than I expected to pay even for a Chinese upstart.

    I continue to be excited about the Chinese, and other nationalities, perpetuating and developing these wonderful designs. But when it came to putting my money down, I felt that wasn't the best value for my dollar.

    Good luck with your search.

    Brenton

    PeterCapo

    Posts: 166
    Join date: 2008-12-05

    Re: Chinese Tube amps ?

    Post by PeterCapo on Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:24 pm

    Unless you have a lot of extra money to spend and just feel like experimenting, I would not think that a Chinese amp would be a better choice over a tried-and-true Dynaco having a successful 50-year history.

    One big concern would be service and support. If an importer of a Chinese amp set up a service department, I guess that's okay but somehow it still seems like kind of a tenuous arrangement to me. I don't even want to think about the prospect of shipping it back to China for service.

    Dynaco, on the other hand, has what may be the single most extensive support network of any hi-fi brand. Search the posts in just about any audio forum, and you're bound to find something about Dynaco. Documentation, parts and service are readily available within the United States from multiple sources.

    Peter

    gothover

    Posts: 9
    Join date: 2009-01-01
    Age: 43
    Location: Spring Valley Lake Ca.

    Re: Chinese Tube amps ?

    Post by gothover on Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:13 pm

    I have had the oportunity to road test a few Chinese built tube amps and preamps, To list a few Onix SP-3 (Nice amp flawless operation and nice sound) Dared VP-20 6L6 (Nice amplifier that sound very good after you toss the factory tubes in the trash and replace with a decent set) YS-Audio Preamp (Although this preamp offers nice tube sound, it was problematic early in life, after about a month of use I noticed my spectrum analyzer fluxuating between songs, turns out this unit had excessive amounts of DC on the output. Attempts to repair were less than satisfying. So my father gutted the unit cleaned up the ps, eliminated the global feedback and rewired with a Spice PAS Purist ckt. Here is a link. http://www.normankoren.com/Audio/Spice_preamp_2.html#Purist

    My conclusion is that there is plenty of good chinese audio gear out there, but I simply prefer the Classic Dynaco. You cannot beat the price to performance ratio of a VTA Dynaco.

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