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Finest Chinese Tube Preamp?
Finest Chinese Tube Preamp?
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Old 28th August 2009, 01:32 AM   #1
88man is offline 88man  United States
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Default Finest Chinese Tube Preamp?

I will most likely build a DIY tube preamp. But for my first ever tube experience, I am trying to decide on a fine Chinese preamp. My goal is add a different palate of sound to my existing SS Odyssey preamp and amp. I am looking for:

-neutral tonality for classical
-extended bass and airy highs
-3D, wide soundstage,
-big tone, rich harmonics
-detail without glare
-smooth and refined without being rolled off.

I like the 6SN7 topology over the 12A*7 based designs. I've always been intrigued by tubes. I think it's better and even less expensive to buy a Chinese preamp instead of building a DIY project like the Blue Velvet or shine7.com 6922-based preamp, or the 6DJ8 based MC-02, etc., especially when considering the chassis build, layout, and support components. I don't mind making modifications later, like cap upgrades, tube rolling, pwr supply, silver wire, etc...


1. What is/are the finest Chinese preamps?...

2. How has been your experience ordering from Cattylink?... Even with high shipping, it's cheaper than ordering from U.S.

3. I am considering the Ming Da MC-7R MkII and the MC-2A3. Which preamp will yield better sonics?...
MC-7R MkII: 5U4G, (4) 6SN7
MC-2A3: (2) 2A3, EL34, (3) 6SN7

4. Any advice, recommendations, experiences, or mods would be appreciated.

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Old 28th August 2009, 05:10 AM   #2
JPeitzman is offline JPeitzman  United States
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I cannot answer your question about Chinese line amplifiers unfortunately as I have no experience with them. What I would like to suggest is a kit, depending on your budget.
^^Great kit, great support community, includes everything you need to be up and running. It does use the 12AU7, but the holes on the top plate are intentionally left large so you can change sockets, a few parts, and run 6SN7's instead. The 12A*7's get a lot of bad rep, but if you have never heard tubes I don't know how you can form an opinion about them. Besides, worst case you can pick up some 12BH7's in stick them in place of the 12AU7's. Lots of people seem to like 12BH7's over 12AU7's, I just picked up about a dozen of each for $0.50 each not to long ago, so it isn't like it will break the bank to try both.
^^Also a good kit that uses about the same topology but different tubes. Again comes with everything but this time not the base. You also get a template for the top plate but will have to do some work, you can either buy or supply the base. This kit may need some more work, but it is about half the cost.

I am just thinking if you are thinking about buying a line stage, and are later willing to buy silver wire, pricey tubes, blah blah blah... why not just buy a kit now. You get more flexibility, a support group (especially with Bottlehead), and the satisfaction of building it yourself. The beauty too is if/when you want to upgrade is that you have a full schematic to follow, and tons of people before you who may have done similar upgrades. Added bonus, it is hard to put a price on the ability to talk with the designer himself, especially when they (especially Doc!) are such great guys! Just my 2 cents!



edit: As a hint, read some of the feedback from the Bottlehead kits.
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Old 28th August 2009, 05:14 AM   #3
ttan98 is offline ttan98  Australia
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There a few Marantz 7 pre amp clone from HK or China floating around in Ebay. Cheap too.
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Old 28th August 2009, 05:34 AM   #4
Geek is offline Geek
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Listening is the only real way to find out what's a gem and what's bum. Specs and tube compliment will tell you nothing... seriously.

The good news: I have heard a LOT more great Chinese made preamps than power amps. You've got a great chance of getting a good pre.

The bad news: Many brands have the same innards, different label, for better or for worse.

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Old 28th August 2009, 07:18 PM   #5
whitelabrat is offline whitelabrat  United States
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Originally Posted by 88man View Post

1. What is/are the finest Chinese preamps?...
None. They're all kludgy.

Search around on this site and you'll likely find better designs that haven't been Received and Duplicated.

I had a Lite Audio LS7B (Marantz 7 clone) that was a good deal, but it was more of a problem than a solution.

Last edited by whitelabrat; 28th August 2009 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 29th August 2009, 04:56 AM   #6
88man is offline 88man  United States
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Thanks everyone - JPeitzman, ttan98, and Geek. I am also looking into American companies too that I've been told are great - Vacuum Tube Valley, Maple Tree.
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Old 29th August 2009, 03:08 PM   #7
Rodango is offline Rodango  United States
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Default Ming Da

Originally Posted by 88man View Post

1. What is/are the finest Chinese preamps?...
If you can get past the small knob sizes, I would highly recommend the Ming-Da Meixing MC67-HA. It uses 6DJ8-family preamp tubes, 396A phono amp tubes, 6H6N rectifiers and 6H6N VR tubes, 11 tubes - a real tube extravaganza!

I was expecting signal degradation, adding so many more active components to my signal path, but it actually resulted in a significant enhancement. Especially after i populated it with Sylvania 7308s and WE 396As

But then, as typical if many pieces of Chinese equipment, I lost the Power Transformer. Enter Dr. Frankenstein. I replaced the PT and choke with respectable Hammond iron, and the 6H6N rectifiers with 6CA4/EZ81 rectifiers, after a little socket rewiring and removal of the bogus time delay circuit. Then after a readjustment of every fully adjustable DC supply, it was better than ever!

But you say "Great. How about a Chinese preamp that works out of the box and stays going?" Well, perhaps they have improved the reliability in the 5 years since I got mine.

Just put "ming da" into ebay to check out their various offerings. There is even an MC67-HA out there now!
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Old 29th August 2009, 05:03 PM   #8
SA-12 is offline SA-12  Canada
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for the price after shipping and replacing the garbage china tubes you might be better off getting a used North American product. I put together a nice system for under 1k with a Counterpoint SA-12 and a Counterpoint SA-1000. Both items hand made in California. This price includes the shipping fees and the bias set/checkup by my local tech that has a ton of Counterpoint experience.

I have a yaqin 12b preamp, cheap china garbage is my opinion. I payed 199 for it (a rippoff at any price), first one did not work so I got a replacement. I used it for a couple months mated with a dynaco st120. I could not bear the thought of placing it with any quality equipment. If you are interested go visit a website where I have taken this preamp down to show exactly how cheap it is. Warning these guys are hardcore so prepare yourself.

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Old 29th August 2009, 05:26 PM   #9
jon_010101 is offline jon_010101  United States
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The finest Chinese preamplifier, in my opinion, is the VAS Citation Sound I. It is a near-exact clone of an HK Citation I, and costs about $5k new
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