XiangSheng 728A. What gives?

Discussion in 'New Gear - Values' started by phalanger, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. Poultrygeist

    Poultrygeist Addicted Member

    Most high end brands are now made in China.

    Don't assume there are two assembly lines one with low quality components for off brand Chi-fi gear and a separate line with high quality components for name brand gear.

    Chinese gear in my experience has destroyed the myth of "you get what you pay" as I've always gotten much more.
     
  2. MWalt

    MWalt Super Member

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    4,890
    Location:
    NE OHIO
    That pre looks just like a Shengya I had a few years ago. It sounded surprisingly good.
     
  3. sonci

    sonci Active Member

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    499
    because you can pay the manual labour for a tenth of what is payed in US or Europe, and lets forget about taxes, health insurance etc
    IMO for the same price a chinese audio gear has better components than a Made in Usa, but I'm not so sure about the design..
    btw, the price has gone up to 380$ in ebay
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  4. jsisk

    jsisk Not 2 Old 2 Rock & Roll

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    3,382
    Location:
    Towson MD
    FWIW, I bought a XiangSheng tube DAC a couple years ago through Ebay. It is the same exact unit that was sold as Maverick and Grant Fidelity, just without a North American presence. It was half the price and has performed great. I wouldn't hesitate to buy their products again.
     
  5. Valveglow

    Valveglow Super Member

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    3,573

    Not surprising. And I bought a Maverick DAC (D2) because it was inexpensive and well built. So apparently the XiangSheng might have had an equivalent. Interesting.
     
  6. filmguerilla

    filmguerilla Active Member

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    249
    This looks interesting. Anyone had tried tube rolling with this unit?

    Planning on getting a tube preamp to be matched with my integrated with Pre/main feature. Anyone tried this config before?
     
  7. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Well, here goes.

    I have had mine for 2 days now.....

    I purchased it used on eBay for the opening bid price, as no one else placed a bid on it...$150!!

    Tubes have all been replaced with Sylvania's, and the unt is 18 months old.

    I am replacing an excellent sounding (IMHO) Carver CT-7 preamp/ tuner with this unit.

    The verdict??




    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I never knew what I was missing.....soundstage is SO much wider, deeper, fuller...

    Detail has appeared that I never knew existed.

    No hum, buzz, or unwanted noise of any kind.

    I have replaced the tuner that was built into the pre-amp with a Carver TX-11 Asymmetrical charge coupled tuner....never knew this much sound is available on FM...not sure if that is another story, due primarily to the tuner, or perhaps a combination of the improvements seen from other sources
    ( CD, Phono) combined with the improved tuner.

    Anyway, the kicker....

    Vinyl....

    Always thought I had pretty good sound reproduction here.

    System was the Carver CT-7 Pre, feeding an Onkyo M501 and an Onkyo M-5150, bi-amping a set of Infinity Crescendo CS-3009's......fed their diet of vinyl from a flawless example of the Sony PS-6750, with (most of the time) an Ortofon 2M Red.

    This new (to me) pre has no phono stage, so I have ordered a Yaqin MS23b, which tracking says will arrive today......So in the meantime, I spent the last 2 days listening to vinyl using a pathetic late 70's vintage 9-volt battery powered mini phono preamp which I picked up at a garage sale a couple of years ago for $3.

    Even with said pathetic device, the sound coming through this new pre from my vinyl is incredible....no comparison whatsoever to what I heard for the last couple of years through the Carver...SO much more detail, with much deeper and wider soundstage.

    The Carver preamp/tuner had the "Sonic Holography" feature (which I like with most music), but even through this horrible little battery powered phono stage, there is more depth and width to the soundstge than the Carver had with the Sonic Holography feature turned ON!!!!!!

    Unbelievable.....

    I cannot wait until this afternoon when the Postman arrives!!

    Pics below, and I will update after the phono stage is in service.

    I purchased this for a stab @ the tube experience without breaking the bank, and it looks like what I have done is opened Pandora's box...no way to go back now.....No regrets....and perhaps time to re-evaluate my opinion of these Chinese made audio products...


    Afterthought.....

    Tone controls....

    COMPLETELY un-necessary on this pre, and will surely remain forever by-passed.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  8. Valveglow

    Valveglow Super Member

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    3,573
    Sounds like a major scroe to me! Enjoy!
     
  9. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Thanks, Valveglow....tuned out to be a great deal.

    I have to admit I was a bit concerned, as I previously had some of the same doubts other AKers have expressed regarding Chinese quality, as well as the old adage of "if it seems too good to be true...."

    Certainly some of these fears were amplified when purchasing this item used...

    Having said that, and having spent another 4 hours listening today, I must say I am extremely impressed with not only this XiangSheng 728a, but also with the Yaqin MS-23b phono stage, which I received today.

    The 4 hours spent listening today were all "vinyl time"

    The Yaqin is brand-new, and from China.....still with the original Chinese tubes....and obviously not yet broken-in.

    Bear in mind that I am the only audio-buff that I know personally, and have not had much exposure to high-end or true "audiophile" gear....the set-up I was previously running (Carver CT-7 Preamplifier/Tuner with built-in phono-stage) sounded very good to me.

    In the pic below, I am listening to Tchaivosky's "Waltz Of The Flowers", and for the first time, the string instruments really came alive!!!!

    What a wonderfully wide, deep soundstage, with each and every instrument recognizable....I am VERY impressed, and suspect that to gain another equal increment of improvement over the sound quality that I now have, several thousand dollars would be required.

    Anyway, IMHO, the Chinese tube gear (at least the items I have purchased) get the thumbs :thmbsp: up!!!

    I would certainly be interested to hear from any whom have had bad experience with these products.

    Finally, as one new to tube gear, I would love to hear from those with more experience, as to whether noticeable gains are made from switching tube brands.......
     

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  10. Valveglow

    Valveglow Super Member

    Messages:
    3,573

    "If it seems to good to be true" is in fact, a trustworthy adage, but remember that the rest of that adage "it probably is". That still indicates that there are bargains which can be found.

    Regarding hi end equipment, the fact that a certain brand has been labeled as such does not insure sonic excellence, reliability, etc. I have been underwhelmed by expensive products before.

    You will experience another leap in quality that wont cost you a penny. That will be when the tubes begin to break in. Regarding tube rolling, you can read much about which tubes are known to have a particular characteristic, but opinions vary widely, and there really is no way to know for sure until you spend the money. I'd enjoy what you have for a while...it just gets better and better.
     
  11. Poultrygeist

    Poultrygeist Addicted Member

    I've owned a fair amount of Chinese tube gear including Dared, Yaqin, Bada, Jolida, APPJ/Miniwatt, Guanzo, and MHZS. I've changed the preamp tubes in each which made an audible improvement.

    Many of the Chinese power tubes are pretty decent so you're likely to get more bang for the buck by replacing the less expensive small preamp tubes first.

    Since the Chinese copied many standard Russian tubes you can often only find Russian equivalent tubes. That's a good thing because many of the Russian tubes are excellent replacements and dirt cheap on the bay.
     
  12. phalanger

    phalanger Active Member

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    170
    Great to hear that it's no dud! Judging by your enthusiasm the sound left a markable impression! I had almost forgotten about it but you just re-sparked my interest in this preamp. How is the build quality? And the valve behind the glass porthole, is it lit up by a LED or on its own? And how do the knobs feel etc? Would love to hear more impressions and possibly more pics.
     
  13. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Well, a dud it is not!!

    Yes, I am very pleased with the sound quality I am now able to enjoy.

    Although I am extremely pleased to have gotten this pre slightly used, and at a fabulous price, now being aware of exactly what it is, I would have NO problem recommending it @ the new price....certainly worth every cent (!)

    I will try to answer your queries in order;

    Build quality...

    It is surprisingly heavy, quite solid , finished as well as any of my other name-brand equipment, and really nice looking.

    I have ordered a fitted piece of plexi-glass, in which I will drill a pattern of holes for cooling, to serve as the top cover, so the softly glowing tubes remain visible (eBay, custom cut to size...... around $20 including shipping)

    The tube behind the glass is lit by LED lights (6...3 on each side vertically stacked) AS WELL as has power as with any tube, and glows accordingly.....I am giving consideration to dis-connecting the LED's, and just letting it glow on its' own .....appears simple to do with just a couple of wires running to the LED's.

    Knobs are heavy, machined aluminum, matching the rest of the build and solid feel of the unit.
    Input selection is controlled by relays, and the unit makes a satisfying, solid "ker-chunk" when switching between input sources.

    I have experimented with turning the selector to an input which has the source turned off, while another input source is playing.....with the volume knob @ the 3 o'clock position, there is very little "bleed-through" to be heard....about half of what I heard from my Carver pre.

    The volume control has detents...which is really not my first preference, but I can live with it, and understand it is not too difficult to alter.

    Balance and tone controls (unused) have smooth motion, free of detents.

    I would compare the solidity of the overall structure and the feel of the unit with my late 70's vintage silver aluminum and wood Akai receiver....quite substantial.

    I see you have quoted from my first posting regarding this unit, and for some more dialogue regarding sound, page down a bit to my second posting, to see some further rhapsodizing regarding the sound quality......lol

    I will add that now that my Yaqin MS-23b phono pre-amp has about 60 hrs of running time, the tubes are becoming smoother (original Chinese ones), and vinyl is like a slice of heaven......I am beginning to understand the meaning of the word "musical" that I hear bantered about by stereo component reviewers...!!!!!!!!!

    I have orders sets of Raytheon "Black Plate" tubes for both the pre and the phono stage....not because I am not pleased, but I have read much from other sources that claim even more soundstage and smoothness (already great IMHO) can be gained from their use....am curious to see what all the hoopla is about!

    As far as pics, most whom sell this unit on eBay are using a standard ad, which includes numerous excellent, detailed pics.

    Hope that answers some of your questions/addresses some of your concerns.

    Will update again after further break-in and tube rolling.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2014
  14. Sasha18

    Sasha18 Active Member

    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Seattle
    Question: are the two outputs in the back (high and low) the same level?
    In other words, could I hook this up to two separate amplifiers?
    Thanks for the report.
     
  15. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    A fair question.........lol

    The short answer is: Not sure what the "High" and "Low" mean.......

    I DO run 2 amps.......However, I use a splitter and run them both from the "High" outputs....with excellent results.

    I have tried hooking them up to individual outputs, using both the highs and lows.

    I bi-amp a set of Infinity Crescendo CS3009's with a pair of Onkyo M-501, 150wpc stereo amplifiers...Using one amp to drive each channels' Woofs, and the other driving each channels' mids and tweets.

    I tried many variations of hook-ups, using all 4 outputs, as well as the splitter.

    To be honest, I really could not tell the difference, sonically.

    In the end, the splitter option was chosen in case I decide to run a sub in the future, as well as the fact that this is the configuration I used before with the XiangSheng's predecessor (a Carver CT-17), which had ony 1 set of outs, and also worked very well set up this way.

    I am still curious as to the meaning of the "high" and "low" labeled on the outs.....I thought perhaps it is a reference to input source impedance...(???)

    My search for a definitive answer has been as yet in vain, but either way, you will have no issue running multiple amps with this Pre.

    Perhaps if I spoke Chinese.......

    Quick Update........

    New tubes arrive Saturday (!!!!!!!!!).....Let the rolling begin!!!!

    I will detail the tubes purchased, as well give preliminary listening impressions Saturday night :D
     
    mcgarick likes this.
  16. Sasha18

    Sasha18 Active Member

    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Seattle
    Funny, I didn't expect to get a response with actual experience.

    I'm thinking about using this as a preamp -> active crossover -> two amps -> four separate speaker channels.

    So your answer is very helpful.

    Now, if only I could find one used...
     
  17. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN

    That was my thought exactly.......

    I was quite leery of the Chinese products in general, so I was hesitant to pay $400 for a new one, given there are decent quality tube pre's (Dynaco, for example) on eBay, etc. for around the same price.

    If you have had a chance to read through this thread (only 3 pages), you will see my initial impressions, along with some further commentary on this unit....and also the fact that I was able to get this one used (18mo. old) for only $150

    Bear in mind, the sound about which I rave in my previous postings is with the Chinese tubes, and comparing to a pretty decent (IMHO) sounding set-up in the first pace.....

    I am told I will hear a definitive step up in sound quality with the desirable vintage tubes I have now acquired.

    Further study has also revealed that (from my experience) this unit does not share the faults of some of the vintage tube pre's. in this price range.

    Warm and "tubey", yes, but also crisp and articulate......breath, wind instruments....all the subtlety's announced cleary, and on a soundstage both deep and wide.

    ...But I digress...

    In the end, it is still a bargain @ $400.

    I have invested another $100 in tubes...we will see this weekend if the additional expense is justified.

    Pics below of today's listening session....Yes-90125 was playing @ the time....WOW!!

    Aso included my new (!) TT matt.

    Yes, I still have the original liquid silicone-filled Sony matt, but just thought this one was gorgeous!
     

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    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
  18. Bkphoto

    Bkphoto Super Member

    Messages:
    1,709
    Location:
    Westchester, NY
    I have one....I think it sux...

    waaaaaay too much gain...I mean waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much gain...

    when the bypass is on bass response is horrible...makes no sense...

    notched volume knob drives me crazy...too loud, not loud enough...

    can't wait until my NAD pre is done being recapped...Its cheap so I took a chance....no biggie...

    by the way, the rectifier tubes you are stuck with, there are no replacements...
     
  19. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Update time.....(!)

    I have now replaced all of the Chinese made tubes with US versions, with the exception of the 2 rectifier tubes in the XiangSheng 728A preamp.

    I saw no reason to replace these, as their only function is convert AC current to DC, and can in no way effect sound.

    In the pre, the 12AT7's were replaced with JAN Philips Black Plate versions, circa 1980, NOS....,They are the 12AT7A models, with the "A" suffix indicating the low noise version, and the "JAN" indicating "Joint Army Navy"....Mil-Spec versions....a few tube guys tell me are excellent quality units, designed to a high standard, and for long life....these are still breaking-in.

    The 12AU7's are Raytheon "Long Black Plate" versions, circa 1962...Used (broken in), but tested @ 95%, which I am told is excellent.

    In the Yaqin MS-23B Phono-Stage, I have installed Raytheon 12AX7's (Circa 1959), also the "Long Black Plate" versions.

    The long and short of it is that the already excellent sound quality on vinyl has been raised yet another notch....primarily by a notable increase in width/depth of soundstage, but to a lesser degree, a bit smoother, and warmer.

    I am told if I wish to increase these qualities, to try Telefunken tubes, as they are supposed to be pretty much the pinnacle of warmth......however, to be honest, I am pretty satisfied with the sound as it stands, as I do like a little bit of "edge" for some types of music, and really don't want the general sound any warmer than it is now.

    The most difference in sound I notice is in the other input sources....ones not already fed by tubes.

    CD and tuner sound quality have shown dramatic improvement with the new tubes....smoother for the tuner, and CD's have lost the harsh "metallic" quality I have always perceived from this medium.

    The new tubes are a real hit.......at a total cost of around $135 worth of tubes, I consider this increase in sound quality a more than good deal for the gains found!!

    I have ordered, and now await, the Yaqin SD-CD2Tube Buffer, through which I will run the CD player into the pre-amp....I have already received the US made tubes I will use in it...Sylvania JAN 6AK5's....I will report on my findings using this device (with both sets of tubes) after suitable break-in and listening time....(!)
     

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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2014
  20. airplanedriv

    airplanedriv Licensed Infinity Addict

    Messages:
    280
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN

    The only function of the rectifier tubes are to convert AC current to DC....so I would think it makes little difference....?

    Perhaps yours has some issue, as my gain seems correct.....having said that, you could always replace the output tubes with similar ones with less gain....there are numerous choices, as I understand.
     

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