Discussion in 'New Gear - Values' started by RGA, May 31, 2014.
So listening to several systems I found a few standouts.
First, Reference 3a with MSB. The Reference 3a speakers sounded rather bright to me at first. They had some blu ray disc going and it was pretty painful. But I have had positive experience with Reference 3a in the past so I got the fellow to put in my disc and asked why they were running SS - and he said he prefers to run tubes with Reference 3a but the owner of the shop makes more money on SS. Whatever, the sound was still quite good after I moved myself around.
The smaller floorstander unfortunately blew the woofer during my audition. Geez this is sounding kind of rough on this room but before that happened I got some very clean bass and articulate open sound - It's not perhaps my cup of tea - as it leans more to the hi-fi side of the realm with the beryllium tweeters but for that sort of sonic preference it was really very good.
Audio Note J/LX with their usual ridiculously priced system. As some of you know I have a few upgrades in mind. I won't bore with the details cause most know my stance on Audio Note already.
The most interesting for last I suppose is Ming Da and Cayin amplification and sources along with the LS-3/5a and B&W Matrix 801s.
The Ming DA line has been around since 1991 and they've come out with some upscale stuff. I was particularly interested in the MC300 Preamp which is the preamp next to the right B&W. The sound here was very good. I don't know why this surprised me but I have long felt the Matrix was the better line of speakers over the Natilus. The Matrix is less hi-fi sounding and the bass was a little tubby but only a little and overall the vocal band was as good as I have ever heard from B&W and better than a lot/most that I've heard over the years. The let down here was likely the KT88 Cayin amps and I will try and audition the big 212 based Ming DA power amps - they retail for about $50,000 US and each weight 69kg. This is a statement level series of stuff from these guys and the internals in a catalog provided appear to be very good. Premium parts generally, well regarded Jensen caps and unusual tube choices. The preamp is interesting at about $4,000.
The top monoblock uses two 212s and the bottom part is the dedicated power supply.
Sorry about the image quality - I was on my phone.
Here is the Ming Da preamp -
Ming Da is apparently having trouble with companies copying them and selling cheap knock-offs.
Reports have been good on them - perhaps an alternative to Line Magnetic. The sell and integrated here for $650 that has preouts. So I am intrigued. http://www.mei-xing.com/english/english/index.html
Ming Da, its one of those company's that been having issues with fakes popping up for years! I even remember our own CUBDOG having issues with a purchase that was selling a fake, I believe, if my memory serves me right. There was also a moderator over at Audioreview, you've known for years who had the real deal Ming Da, and he praised it.....yes Ming Da makes a very good product.
Copies are a problem for many brands - especially cables. A lot of cables are being sold on the net second hand that are copies - very good copies in external appearances. There are so many LS-3/5a speakers out there as well. Ming Da and Audio Space have copies floating around and it won't be long before Line Magnetic copies hit the websites if not already.
Especially if it sells in North America or Europe.
This kinda forces people to buy new from an authorized dealer. But then the price is high enough to make it more worthwhile to go with a name brand.
The above Ming Da MC300 preamp is very nice and all but at $4,000US I could buy a second hand Audio Note M3 preamp. After 5 years I could sell the M3 for $4,000. Ming Da? Maybe $1500 (maybe). These are important factors when upgrading. In 5 years I might want the $10k preamp and having $4k in trade asset versus $1500 is a considerable difference. Granted sound Q comes first but....
Wow! great stuff.
Under what scenario would Chinese production costs reach to 14$K for a preamp.
And as you noticed:
Who! would pay that for a Non Primo world recognized brand.. Given that High End Audio 'investment' is 95% about bragging rights/status symbols.
How's about a Chinese Ferrari while at it?
Hopefully they will soon be buried by Clones of Clones of Clones?
It's the national enterprise.. in action.
I kind of concur in that this is my issue with many of these brands. Well not just Chinese brands - but there does seem to be a lot of "Let's start a company and sell $50,000 DACs" without any track record or any real appreciable superiority. I knew a guy who sold silver cables the website was great and his prices were actually not too high but the he has no background in audio, engineering or metallurgy - he is a guy who buys a nice silkscreen and in his garage he puts cables (that he buys) and puts his silk screen on them and makes a tidy profit. Even if you don't buy into cables that is different than Kondo-San who was a metallurgical engineer and headed the microphone division of Sony. Even if you don't buy into cable differences one actually does design and make from the ground up and understands fully the metals he is working with and their properties.
Many Chinese brands (many brands in general) merely copy. Ahh let's see the schematic - I can do that and off they go.
Now where the Chinese come back to the advantage realm in my view is in the entry level to mid market. They can produce transformers (and other parts) cheaper and can physically built the units cheaper. So if you spend $1500 on a "good" Chinese tube integrated you may have to spend $3000 - $3500 to get a comparable amp from the United States/Europe. You may get $500 for you Chinese amp in 10 years. The US/EU amp you might get $1500 back. But you still come out ahead with the Chinese amp.
Remember a lot of folks felt this way about Japanese cars and once people caught on that they were vastly better vehicles (reliability and customer satisfaction) than any and all American counterparts they held their value much better on the second hand market. Now Hyundai is experiencing the same.
Resale value is poor with domestic amplifiers and speakers as well if they change models or delete them. I like Audio Note because 10 years ago I bought an amp and speakers that I can now sell for at LEAST what I paid for them. Part of that is the Audio Note name brand but it's more that they keep the products in the line-up continuously and continue to raise the prices.
Chinese companies unfortunately often change models every couple of years and the model deleted is now usually a boat anchor value wise.
The only defense of that is that in the Ming DA or Line Magnetic case they typically have a unique design or output or even aesthetic that no one else has. And if over the time the product gains a certain appeal then the value could hold.
And ultimately you still have to go by sound quality. In my LM 219IA's case I simply liked it better than what I heard in the sub $10,000 range from the major players like ARC, McIntosh, VAC, Cary, Audio Note etc. I like the 219IA more than more costly Meishu for example. So while the Meishu is a better value, likely, in terms of resale, I also have to live with it. The Jinro is another matter but at $26,000 it will remain another matter.
if there are fake MingDa`s out there i havnt seen it yet.
the reason for the warning on their website is simple, they want to protect their own distributors.
a few years ago lots of people were importing them directly at much lower price.. a MC34-A cost me less than half when bypassing the dealer, and it still works flawlessly after 8 years.
copies on the consumer market are usually simple products that are easy to sell in big numbers. like individual components, chargers, clothes etc. not heavy tubeamps which are already built in china. the copy could end up costing as much as the original, i doubt anyone would go thru the hassle of copying one, the demand just isnt there.
I was out at various shops again last week to see some second hand shops. They sell via consignment. The stores take 10%. Quite reasonable compared to Canada and the U.S. I would think. They carry quite the high end gear.
This shop is packed - equally large behind me
Hong Kong Audiophiles love tubes - TUUUUUBES everwhere
This is Hong Kong HMV if you can believe it - the vinyl section is quite large indeed.
The famous Star Ferry ride to downtown Hong Kong and numerous audio shops
Triode amps ar ethe red ones (made by Line Magnetic - driving Paradigm S1 speakers, you can see Giya and Magnepan in the back.
Nice pics! Thanks for sharing them.
Now I have an itch to scratch.
Here are more shops - incidentally all of these shops (except the tubes shop) are all in one 21 floor building.
Separate names with a comma.