Do chinese tube preamp/amp clones interest you?

Hi all,

looks like there a quite a few clones of almost iconic gear available, e.g. this is an example

Have you ever wondered how they sound, are tempted to try them out, maybe even get it as a kit?

Or better even, got them and can report back?

Inquiring minds would like to know,

I noticed in one of the pics included in your link the "clone" actually includes the distinctive Audio Research badge on its faceplate. That's actually a form of theft and I think it's disgraceful..

It really isn't fair to call these things "clones," because that suggests the item is identical to the original. The product in the link isn't a clone - it's just a cheap knockoff. Anyone who has pride in his work puts his own name on it. They don't steal someone else's name.

 This is not a clone but a fake. It looks like a modern ARC preamp but the inside is not. If it is a rip off of an ARC circuit, It has to be at least 30 or 40 years old. Modern ARC gear uses primarily 6H30 tubes. This uses 12AU7 and ECC88 tubes. This preamp is just like a fake Rolex, it looks like one on the outside. But it is not made like one and it won't work or last like one. And it won't sound like one.

 If you want am ARC preamp, find a nice older used one. It will be built better and sound better. And if something goes wrong with it, it can be repaired.
I think the "clones" that China produces are a theft of intellectual property at best, and are crap in a nice looking case at worst.

China has proven they are capable of producing good equipment AND good brands.  Line Magnetic is a perfect example of a Chinese owned brand that was developed in China that people love. 

This kind of stuff is what makes people angry and harms all Chinese manufacturing IMO.  

I like their guarantee. If there is anything wrong, you must pay the return shipping. They could ship you a bag of rocks and you need to pay to return it.
Looks like a great kit! You have the option to either put an Audio Research label on it make your own! I would use....ACME!

That culture has no boundaries.
ACME +1 I never seen a coyote blow himself up as much as "The Coyote" all with the aid of ACME.. After about the third time, JC Penny's would have been lookin' good... Man change brands... :-)

After how many time you gotta craw out from under neath a rock to hear Beep beep, hunt rats, gotta taste better than "that", scrawny road runner..

Clone, nope...only in their minds... all that stuff is IC right. no point to point. The logic of the board may trace the same but it's not the same. It's not point to point.. Marantz 7, The C22, few of them, ay..

I think the "clones" that China produces are a theft of intellectual property at best, and are crap in a nice looking case at worst.

China has proven they are capable of producing good equipment AND good brands. Line Magnetic is a perfect example of a Chinese owned brand that was developed in China that people love.  

This kind of stuff is what makes people angry and harms all Chinese manufacturing IMO.
Right. That is the first level of concern.

Did they develop the technology? Did they license it? Or did they steal it? How do you feel about buying stolen goods? 

There is another greater level of concern.

Learn a little more, China is actually the PRC- People's Republic of China. Which is by definition the CCP- Chinese Communist Party. Every business is required to have CCP members on their board. So every business even if operating legally by Western norms- ie not outright stealing and copying but actually developing on their own- even then they are still CCP. Fact of the matter is anything bought from China is supporting in one way or another the CCP. 

This may be less well known but look it up, its a fact. And this is much more serious a problem than piracy.

Finally, the icing on the cake, my actual personal experience with made in China. Jungson amp defective, right away, and they not only refused to honor the warranty they lied to my face about it. Worst treatment of anything ever bought in my life. 

So no, Chinese pre amps do not interest me. Cloned or otherwise. 
I would not buy it just so it is not only a picture, as audio2design implied, illustrating a brick that may or may not come in the mail.

I heard that Melody amplifiers, Made in China, are fantastic deal and match Tekton Moabs wonderfully.
My buddy bought one Chinese power amplifiers and it worked for a while before it broke. He paid $200 to have it fixed and actually now likes it some. In looking at it, it is nice looking but internally it is not made well. It won’t compete with better designed amps but there are plenty of amps that I don’t consider good quality.

Happy Listening.
I still have my ARC LS15 pre amp that l bought in 1995 and it's still working find
No China knock off for me!
Miller how much steel did your boyfriend purchase from China via shell companies? 
Just a question. Do those here who object to buying Chinese goods (not just fakes, but any at all) make sure that there are no Chinese parts inside of the non-Chinese goods that they buy? Because if a product has Chinese parts inside of it then Chinese companies are benefiting.
In logic this is what is called the Fallacy of the Straw Man. Create an imaginary and totally fake position, pretend that's what the person said, then refute it.   

Total garbage. You can do better. On second thought maybe not. But surely you can at least try? We all have to start somewhere you know. Thinking, I mean.
Anyone knows what millercarbon is referring to in his post above? Is there a clarification of that peaceful wisdom available?
Some of the best audio I've ever heard at a show came out of Woo Audio headphone amps.

The biggest determining factor of the quality of Anglo brands made in China is the quality of the relationship between the brand and factory.

If you go in and shop for the cheapest factory, you will get crap products.  If you build a relationship, pay a fair price, and agree to the quality control needed ahead of time you can get excellent products out of China.

My uneducated not politically correct answer is that I bought a sun audio 2A3 clone because my local record store had it on consignment, and it was an affordable experiment into SET amps.  It had upgraded Mullard caps, and PSVane driver tubes. It sounds nice to my ears.  It probably didn’t support China, it supported the American tech who owned and modded it, plus a 10% consignment fee to my record store owner. I like it.  Enough to recommend to friends.  My American Diesel pickup is a Chinese parts bin truck with some Japanese parts thrown in for good measure.  My Vietnamese Altec 1505 clones ring less than the metal originals, and are half the price. My Vietnamese stepmother makes the best lasagna you ever had.   Just be careful.   Make informed purchases. Settle down. 
There is a video I recall seeing, where a guy takes apart a ChiFi amp that crapped out after a short time. It was advertised as using top name parts, which it did, but when he pulled it apart, he found components like the caps to all to be out of spec rejects. The soldering was poorly done too. For me, this really pulled back the curtain on the value illusion. Cheap labor isn't the only magical ingredient in their recipe.
No, whenever possible, I avoid purchasing anything from China. They are responsible for the deaths of over 1.2 million people worldwide, and have not so little as apologized. I don’t feel that way towards other countries that manufacture and export. I realize that this is an audio enthusiast forum, and apologize for using it as a political retort.

All the best,

To all having owned a Audiostore ,and on average 25% or less 
actually goes into the build,speakers or electronics,Thst being said 
especially after what China did and withheld information for.          6 weeks before informing the world,,and buying up all Ppe,and medically related products ,to resell after announcing China is a Cancer ,nothing more to be said and use cheap parts,inside and low grade lead solder , there are a few foreign controlled pieces that are ok. Taiwan, and Hong Kong ,which like U.SA build much high quality on average, China at this time No Thankyou 
and resale Gorget it much worse no more then even keep that in mind plenty of other quality products out there Rogue audio-USA
Schiit Audio USA good quality vacuum tube at a decent price 
many other options these are just a few examples.🎻🇺🇸
Mentioned above a very old China ploy they list say 5 brand name parts 
a few old carbon resistors ,$20 alps volume pot a select few name brand capacitors the rest China special brand. Solder,wire, tube sockets switches all junk Period I know from past mistakes years ago ,and still holds true today primaluna  for that kind of money cheap sheet metal chassis 
Ayon much more advanced  microprocessor tube circuit , machined thick anodized aluminum non resonate chassis ,Worlld class Lundahl transformers and chokes , all rca machined gold copper ,and many more things all within $500
and made in Austria . Knowing parts quality well, a Torroidal transformer much better suited in a SS device not Vacuum tube ,all World class tube products never use Torroidal transformers which are the heart of the amp,preamp.Lundahl,Everyone knows .

The cheap shitttttt is exactly that, you get what you pay for, here or China.

I tried something inexpensive sold on amazon, to use in my shop, really just to find out, wondering: Their low labor cost, their lack of mark-up, volume purchasing, perhaps you can get .... for not too much money. POS, returned it, ok I learned something.

However, 'made in china' can be excellent. 

I read reviews, took a chance, bought a used Cayin A88T, eBay, returns accepted, original owner. 

There has to be other high quality stuff I don't know about. Proper research, I would not fear 'Made in China'.

Says 'Designed in Germany, Made in China'. Received, immediately took bottom cover off, extremely impressive layout, hand point to point construction, high quality parts. I've seen many innards of vintage Fisher's, McIntosh, Sherwoods, Tandbergs. IMO this unit's quality meets and/or exceeds them. Plenty of ventilation space.

this is mark 1, only one that has 16 ohm taps. later models have external bias, mine is inside.

thread here popped up

this quick search, I now see they have been around for 20 years, who knew?

Wow...did I just say Jehova?

English being my 2nd language I do realize now the difference in semantics regarding clone, my mistake.
Let me tell you where I come from...I like to build things, try stuff out, so there is a long list of components and three "systems".

I currently feel the itch to build a balanced tube preamp from a kit. I have rediscovered the fun of soldering ;-)

Used to build main tube amps, at some point was even lucky enough to have access to a transformer winding machine, but had always thought to not need a pre.
BTW...I remember comments even back in the 80s that in tube amps there are only so many iterations, most of the general circuit design is well known since decades...but that may just be hearsay.

The search for a balanced tube preamp had me find two kits, one quickly described as a 4 channel car amp and I do not understand how that would be a balanced one (unless you tied ones ground to the others "+") or the one that I referenced to in it's completed version in the OP. 

I do not expect it to be a copy of a specific model, at least on a quick search I could not find a model with only two inputs and no tone controls, it would however allow me to connect the balanced outputs from the component upstream (dbx venu 360). 


I have a Nobsound EL-34 Integrated Tube Amp
model NS 02D with upgraded tubes.
I have had no problems. It sounds great.
Point to point wiring.
Anyone have experience with Nonsound products ?

No.  It's more of a moral choice...  When was the last time in recent history a dictatorship put a million people in labor camps?
I bought a Chinese tube amp (Music Angel XD-800 MkIII) about 12 years ago just to play around with upgrading it. IIRC, it was around $500.

When I received it, I opened it up. It looked like the tech who assembled it, just put in whatever parts he had handy on his bench. Most resistors were out of spec.

Once I changed the resistors and caps, it was a pretty decent 30W Class A amp. The tube complement was 4 x KT88, 2 x 12AU7, and 2 x 12AT7. I ran Psvane KT88 and 12AU7 tubes and 50's era RCA 12AT7.

Not including tubes, the upgrade cost me just under $200 (and many hours of my time).
I found some of the opinions expressed here about Chinese Amps to be based on prejudice & lack of knowledge  rather than listening to the product. It is true a lot of rubbish came out of China , but, this apply more or less to most countries.
I am not Chinese( I am British -Egyptian & Ex Hi Fi plus publisher. My day job is Orthopedic Surgeon)
I have superb Hi Fi system ( Clearaudio Goldfinger , Acoustical Axiom & Kuzma 14 inch arms..Wafac PRT1 , Burmister, Lamm, Jadis, CJ, Audionet ,  Acostic Arts ,, Krell, BAT.. Giya -Vivid Speakers.)
But , My Pride & Joy ; AM 833 MKII 140 watt single ended of pure magic.
I have 4 monobocks. 2 monos : silver edition, RRP around 25000 US $ & 2 monos ULTIMA  of All Silver Transformers , RRP aound 50000 US$ plus. this is is probably one of the best Amps regardless of the price.
It is made in China By a Genius called Fang & the website is
. Apart from brilliant design , customer service is second to none. if you do not have distributor , contact him directly, you will not be disappointed
What sort of prejudice do you see? And, lack of knowledge of what specifically, are you referring to?
The Ming Da stuff seems to be well made and sounds pretty good and has been around for long enough to be trustworthy.But honestly the way the CCP is behaving is very concerning and people really should be avoiding buying anything made in China until they stop acting like psychopaths.They are now attacking Australian companies and the Australian government through bogus trading  embargos  and faked content in an attempt to stop the Australian government and media from commenting on human rights abuses and the jailing of democracy activists,and ethnic and religious  minorities.Who's next?
I've bought a Chinese Tube amplifier about nine years ago that is still my preferred every day amp. But when I received it and plugged it in, the sound was dark and totally closed in. Fortunately, I found an upgrade on a DIY forum for that exact amplifier. Music Angel 845 Class A amplifier upgrade.  After a total circuit remake and installation of top quality audio parts, this thing sings to it's hart content.  Of course, you have to know your way around electronics, and you have to make sure to not get electrocuted. This thing packs roughly 1000 volts. I would not recommend it for the novice. For me, it was much cheaper to buy the amp and redo the circuit than building from scratch. Not to mention of a better finish.  I also had to change all the tubes with NOS, as they where poor quality sounding. But super quiet. The only repair I had to make was to change the turn on relay after two years. Hopping this information will help. 
If cost is a big issue for you and you'd like something truly hi-end, build the SP14 kit from VTA.  The full kit cost is $1099 and they have excellent tech support.  The well received Don Sachs preamp, which sells for about $2500 new, is just the SP14 in a custom chassis.

VTA offers their preamp fully assembled or you can buy just the boards and parts and build your own custom chassis. 

They also have lower cost tube preamps for those who haven't the budget for the SP14.  Their lowest cost tube preamp kit is the SP11, which is only $425.  I have little doubt it would perform at least as well as any of the bogus Chinese amps.

Wonder how many of you in this thread own Apple products?

Or any other items that are made in China?

Those who are presenting a holier than thou attitude should consider getting off your high horse if there is anything in your home/life that was made in China. 

Most likely purchased because it was cheaper.

Just sayin'...

Well I use a Triode TRV 845 amp.  Made in China, in the Line Magnetic factory.  Excellent build quality and sonics.  Bias has held rock steady for several years (I measure after each listening session).  

But- this amp is not a clone or a copy or a rip off of someone else's design.  It is an original design, created by a Japanese company, and built in China.

OTOH- There is undeniable crap coming out of China; ripoffs, theft of design, stolen product etc.   How many times have we read about a successful product that is made in China and sold by a reputable brand, then find the same product with a different "name" selling factory direct at a bargain price ?   In many cases this is the same or nearly the same product, being sold out the back door by "local entrepreneurs" or made in a different factory located just down the street from the authentic production line.  Western companies have learned to put their people on the ground in China to ensure that what is produced is exactly what was contracted for.  Why ? Because they learned that if left unsupervised, many Chinese companies will produce what they think the client will accept rather than what the client contracted for.

Everything that happens or doesn't happen is directed by the Party.  Western companies are required to "share" technology with local Chinese companies.  Chinese courts do not generally recognize western concepts of property law or prior use.  You would be surprised how many Western companies find that their Chinese market copyright is owned by some unknown Chinese company and they have to pay a royalty (!) to use their branding that is known the world over.

Several years ago, Apple and the Chinese Govt were negotiating over the sale of Apple products in China.  China wanted the ability to access  Apple networks, iphones and software at will.  Apple said no.  Apple executives were taken to an Apple store in downtown Bejing.  It looked exactly like any Apple store world wide.  All of the products were shiny, white, and perfectly packaged.  All of the products, the store- everything was fake.  The Govt made its point, and Apple quickly allowed access.

So no- I do not buy ChiFi fakes.
I am using and loving a 2003 Sophia Electronics EL34 A/B amplifier. Parts made in the PRC to U.S. (Chinese) owners specs and assembled in Northern Virginia. Previously I owned a Chifi Class A based on 6N1P outputs. The class A benefited from a $100 tweak. It blew up here in the U.S., after a bench tech error. Both amps sounded better than any solid state gear I have ever owned.
I used to have to work trade shows for my work selling our wares. Busses would would pull up and unload hundreds of Chinese people that would come over and start taking pictures with measuring tapes next to our equipment. They would grab all documentation and brochures. They were always polite, bowing and saying speaking Chinese then leave. We let them do this for a few years, not any more. We tell them to politely leave. So, no. I try as much as I can to buy as American as possible.

Thank you all for the comments, political and apolitical, it has opened my eyes to things that I don’t think that much about.

I owned an Audio Space EL84 mini int amp that was awesome and an EL34 GemTune GS-01 that was also very good that was probably a knock off of a Nobsound or vice versa. 

I’m just trying to understand things here - So the companies who design their own tube gear like Audio Space, Ming Da, Jolida, Cayin & others are ok, but the ones who are stealing intellectual property and making clones of US made products are not ok. But what happens when a guy is stealing Nelson Pass’s designs or 47 Labs designs and calling them gainclones or custom chip amps right here in the US? NOGAS, right? Or when guys modify an existing tube amp, is that not cool either? Is it cool if it happens here in the US, but not in Communist China? 

Well, it cheating is Uncool, than if this election doesn’t get overturned, than the good ole USA will have become extremely Uncool, because everyone knows that there was massive cheating going on!!! And if you are one of those who lives in your bubble of MSM propaganda and think there was no election fraud, then just STFU and go buy your Chinese clone/stolen gear.

Wow! That last paragraph was totally unexpected! I wasn’t expecting to get political & nasty here, but there you have it. Let’s move on.

These cheap chinese preamps are useless. Nearly all of them are missing a key component, a ground stud to eliminate hum. It looks like one cheap cloner made one, made it wrong, and everyone else mindlessly copied the wrong design.

Imagine all your hard work and sacrifices, to create a sustainable business that provides employment to other to sustain their families, then one day you see this on the internet. Kick in the nutz if you ask me. 

If you did this is the US you would be bombarded into submission with litigation and legal fees. 

Why would anyone trade with a country that does this with no penalties. 

I'm big on "Made In USA" , when I pick something up off a shelf I look it's country of origin and I choose USA anytime I can and leave Made in China behind any time I can.  No, I'm not a Xenophobe but have been called that on other forums.    I just want good quality. 

Amps, Tuner, Speakers, power conditioner, cables are Made in USA.  DAC is made in Greece,  Disc player and Vault are made in Chinna ... good products but no way are they built like the other components in my system.   I chose Aurender over Auralic and others because it's not Made in China and the build quality is over the top.