Chinese made equipment suffers from a stigma, they cost less so the perceived quality is also less. I have not found this to be true in this case. Politics aside, the Chinese can do what no other country can right now, sell decent made and good sounding equipment for a fraction of others. The Ming-Da MC34-B falls into the category, inexpensive for a tube amp of this quality, and definitely a very good sounding unit. First I want to thank Thor for giving me the opportunity to try this and eventually buy it from him, I wasn't expecting much, except I had seen pictures and knew it looked nice, but I was in for a shock when it came to the sound quality. It arrived in it's factory box and packing and in perfect shape, first thing I immediatly noticed was it's heavy weight. I wasn't expecting something that small to weigh that much. I was very taken with it's good looks, polished stainless steel and black krinkle finish transformer covers and a very thick faceplate. The "pagoda" cover I call it, keeps small hands and fingers away from the hot tubes. The whole amp has a feeling of being well built, solid and heavy feeling, the cover has a thick plexiglass top with air holes drilled and polished trim around the outsides. It press fits into the chassis with rubber grommets to hold it in place. The next thing was to bias the output tubes, removing the bottom plate I found the same quality of material, a fairly thick steel bottom, thicker than what you'd even find in the highest of quality Japanese gear. I was very impressed with what I found next, the internal wiring and component layout, was one of the most intelligently thought out of anything I've seen before. All the wires were twisted together, and every component seems to be used as support for the others. The leads of the resistors, capacitors, diodes, are used as supports for the rest of the circuits, the bias pots and wiring points. All resistors are 1 watt rated except the cathode resistors which are 5 watt rated, the capacitors are Rubycon, SME, Samsung, and the coupling caps are "Ming-Da" brand. The bias pots are easy to get to underneath, one nice feature would of been to place these to access from the outside. After biasing the tubes, it was time to finally listen. At first I was very impressed with the sound, nice deep bass, fairly linear extension to the treble. However, I wasn't as impressed with the midrange, it was a little muddy and not as clean as I like. I also noticed that in certain passages, female voices and horns seemed a little harsh and edgy. It had 6L6wxt+ Sovtek tubes and after learning I could put in EL34's that was the next logical step. Installing and rebiasing the EL34's were straight forward, I set the bias to 35ma and began listening again, what a difference!! The midrange was now much cleaner sounding, the bass although not as deep, was very tight and detailed. The highs had a nice extended and smooth sound, but at times I still had that slight hardness and edginess. The driver tubes and preamp tubes were 6N1 and 6N2, both using the same pinouts as the 12AU7, 12AX7 tubes except 6 volt filaments. This limits the available tubes to try in this amp, so I first rewired the preamp socket to 12 volt. This wasn't too difficult, and I purchased two JJ Tesla 12AX7's to try in it. Now to try the new tubes, first powered it on to make sure it didn't start smoking or other mistakes, and rechecking the bias it was time to listen again. Changing out the 6N2's to the JJ Tesla 12AX7's was the next biggest sound improvement, the hardness was now gone, the midrange more detailed and the highs extended very nicely. The EL34's I had used were the new Russian issued Mullards, I purchased these from Triode Electronics and they arrived very quickly, from the outset I could tell these tubes were winners. The next steps I had taken was two fold, I bought some high voltage metal film capacitors and decided to try these new tubes in triode mode. After wiring these in triode and rebiasing once again, time again to hear the difference. Once again, another impressive improvement in the sound quality, in triode mode these new Mullard tubes just seemed "sweeter" sounding, more detailed and the midrange was very clean and natural sounding. The highs seem to be more effortless in it's presentation, and at times certain instruments seem to just float in the air. However, one thing seemed lacking somewhat, and that was just a little more inner detail in the music, now much improved I felt it could do a little better. Now at this point normally listening was a joy, no listener fatigue at all, compared to the out of the box listening sessions, I just wanted to listen to every album over and over again, the amp finally captured what my turntable and cartridge was capable of delivering. Being a perfectionist, I was first considering the new "supertube" 6H30pi that could be a drop in replacement for the 6N1, the 6N1 is not a bad tube by any means, but I also had been reading how the new JJ Tesla ECC99 was an outstanding driver tube, made especially for driving high powered triode tubes like the 300B. I made a trip to Triode Electronics next, wanting to buy two 6H30pi's and unfortunately, somebody had just purchased 24 of them and they were sold out. What next...well they had the ECC99 JJ Tesla's and for backup, I also bought two RCA clear top 12AU7's. Now to get home and rewire the driver socket from 6 volt to 12 volt and try the ECC99. This wasn't as drastic as an improvement as changing the preamp from the awful 6N2 to the 12AX7, but the sound seemed to clean up noticably, detail mainly was improved. The linearity of the tube was from deep bass to the treble. This driver tube seem to be much more transparent sounding, making the preamp swaps more noticable. Now it is much easier for me to hear the difference between the EH, JJ and other preamp tubes I've tried. I think these new ECC99's are also a winner. The biggest comment I can make about them, is they just seem cleaner sounding. Subtle details are now more noticable and hearing soft passages are easier, during some listening sessions when a loud instrument might be playing, I can still hear the drummer lightly hitting his cymbal. I tried the RCA clear tops and it's no contest between the ECC99 and them. The JJ's win hands down. The JJ's are that much cleaner sounding and detailed than the RCA's to hear a difference. Now anybody buying one of these amps may or may not feel the stock amp would need changing, but at least there is a good enough foundation to work with that allows this kind of tweaking and deliver this high of sound quality. I could tell immediately this amp had potential, and I wasn't wrong. I think out of the box, this amp sounds good but can be fatiguing after long sessions due to some of the harshness of the 6N2 preamp tube. Other than a 6AX7 there isn't much choices here, possibly the 6DJ8, but these don't impress me either. For some people who maybe shy about modding, this may not be a good amp to buy, you may not be happy with the sound out of the box. For the ones who aren't afraid to do a little soldering and swapping in better tubes, then you will be rewarded with a very decent sounding, inexpensive amp that will provide you hours and hours of enjoyment.