• WARNING: Tube/Valve amplifiers use potentially LETHAL HIGH VOLTAGES.
    Building, troubleshooting and testing of these amplifiers should only be
    performed by someone who is thoroughly familiar with
    the safety precautions around high voltages.

HK & world: with Cayin, are tube kits still good value (apart from learning)?

Several here have said where to get parts at good prices in Hong Kong.
HK kit suppliers, I only know one: www.diyhifisupply.com with prices a little less, but not dissimilar to elsewhere in the world.

While diyhifisupply - quality is I believe fine - their prices for kits are dearer than eg *built Cayin amps at HK based international mail order house www.cattylink.com/ (slow loading site).

From people who’ve heard a lot of amps, Cayin sound significantly better than many Chinese amps, and Opera Audio respectable.

Eg a 2A3 integrated:
Opera-Consonance Cyber-30 2A3 Class A single-ended integrated amplifier at Cattylink: US$ 4xx- (contact them for exact price)

vs - Joplin DHT 2A3 kit www.diyhifisupply.com/diyhs_joplin.htm
US$ 589 + $28 + $69 for tubes, to be assembled.
If we assume the Cattylink 2A3 is $450, parts alone are about 50% more! (And assembly = $200)

Other good value examples are the:
Cayin MT-12 integrated. 12AX7 x 1; 12AU7 x 2; OTK EL84 x 4. Just US$ 3xx- or
Cayin MT-35 12AX7 x 1; 12AU7 x 2; EL34 x 4. Just US$ 4xx-.

(I’ll be in HK tomorrow, and again later in May). For a mid quality kit seeker:

Who knows of *any *well priced *mid-quality kit suppliers in Hong Kong??

You’re right, it isn't a 100% fair comparison, it’s not identical.

> one doesn't know the relative quality of the components such as the OPTs.

No we don’t know the relative quality of the OPTs etc.
But subjectively both Cayin and Opera have been judged by others with wide experience as more than reasonable or better.

So given the known differences (off the web) do you still expect to find a built amp for roughly 2/3 the price of a kit??
Hi Rick57

Very good questions indeed. Last time when i was in HK i listened to a few Chinese amps. A completely unknown PP EL34 brand in absolutely gorgeous wood chasis was selling for around $200. Didn't sound particularly impressive but i seriously considered buying it for the chasis and junking the rest.

What did sound very impressive was one of the amps from the Cattylink range; forgot the model but it was an 805 driven by 300B. Stunning looking monoblocks for around $600 ea. I believe the US distributor charges considerably more than double. If i wanted to have a factory built amp this would be it. Any attempt to diy would realistically cost a lot more. And will likely look like something the cat brought in.

The kits are for a specialised market willing to pay a premium. Don't ask me who are the people who buy kits - i just don't get it.

A great example is the popular among vinyl - philes Incognito rewire kit. I think it sells for around $200 and contains easily available parts worth probably around $60-$80. It seems to solve the issue of having to solder two RCA jacks and if you get completely lost in the maze of 5 wires there are lots of satisfied users to ask.

Tube amp kits? Unless they use prime quality iron and passive components (diyhifisupply probably do) you'd be better off building from scratch.
> 805 driven by 300B . . monoblocks for $600

Now that sounds exciting!

I’m not that turned on by amp looks, but several of the Chinese amps (& CD players) look great :up:

> The kits are for a specialised market willing to pay a premium. Don't ask me who are the people who buy kits - i just don't get it.

As I’ve never built an amp, they appeal to me as an easier introduction. But paying more than a completed amp of similar quality? And we know the resale on a kit.

(About the only kit I know that has a good chassis is the Transcendent Sound OTLs.

The kit providers seem to be making far too much money :down:
I was thinking along the same lines about my next tube amp i.e. for a 805 amp I am sure I could not build it for less than 2000 usd.
The ming-da amps look like stunning value but I was unsure because I never heard from somebody like analog sa (some more feedback please)about their sound quality.Now they look even more interesting.In any case assuming the otps are reasonable quality you could always pooge/modify the amp with higher quality parts, valves etc.
Secondly what I have been thinking about more and more about is that even though theoretically we may gain by building DIY amps at a fraction of the cost of some hi-end designs this is negated by the fact that when we want to ``upgrade`` we cant sell off our old diy amps.The best deal is always to buy a very good used amp and then resell it at an almost similar price a few years later .
Ok there is not as much fun in that but there are tons of smaller projects and cheaper that you can take a soldering iron to.Solid state is obviously cheaoer to diy but with tube amps you start spending too much money on the iron.
With the new chinese amps pricing it almost seems silly to diy unless you are winding your own trafos and/or ytou are going to make just one amp for the rst of your life.
They may not have a great resale value but if they are half decent sounding and upgradeable you will be able to sell them off after a few years for half price.So eg if an amp costs 1200usd you could still sell it for 600 at least.
My tube amp with eml tubes and plitron iron cost me close to 3000usd and although it sounds great I can never sell it to finance another project.
The best deal is always to buy a very good used amp and then resell it at an almost similar price a few years later .

Yup. This makes the most sense. Cheap to diy? Ha, ha. I'll only believe this once i start selling kits :)

But good common or business sense have little effect on our neurotic hobby, right? Someone in my neighbourhood is selling a pair of really high end tube mono blocks as we speak. For less than the iron i am about to order. Do i rush to buy the monoblocks? Of course not, where is the fun in this? And what am i supposed to do with them? Listen to music?! :)

The 805 Ming Da amps sounded impressive in the dealer's room. The volume was clearly above clipping but they managed quite a racket. There was nothing about the sound that seemed particularly wrong - good extension; detail; soundstage. Very good dynamics. Still, my gracious host (Dr John) looked perplexed with my admiration. Maybe i am just not used to the air at sea level.

Having seen the schematics, it's hardly an amp i would leave alone if i owned it. A single power supply does all the work. Not good. The components inside are most definitely not boutique. And driving the 805 is best achieved by an interstage. They'll require so much work to keep me happy i'd rather start from scratch.