China built tube amps

Well I had an interesting conversation today. I contacted a large dealer and let him know I would like to buy a certain integrated tube amplifier that is made in China. I was told he wouldn't sell me one. He said they are all junk.  Prima Luna, Line Magnetic, Cayin, etc, etc, he said forget it. If you want a tube amplifier buy an American or European built unit that can be serviced.

So, I am new to valve amplifiers and I want to try one to understand what they're all about and sort of get my feet wet with tube rolling etc. I don't want to spend a lot of money at first which is why I was looking at Chinese built integrateds. So my question is, without getting into any particular brand other than what I have already mentioned, what is your experience with Chinese built tube amps? As a whole are they reliable? Am I wasting my money if I buy one according to this dealer? I have to admit I was rather taken aback by how adamant he was. Thoughts anyone?


You better buy from amazon and try and if not ok,you can return with full refund.


If you want a tube amplifier buy an American or European built unit that can be serviced.


That particular dealer certainly has a right to sell whatever he or she chooses, HOWEVER, to leave out of consideration all gear manufactured in Asia would be shortsighted. That would leave out PrimaLuna, (some) Quad, Kondo/Audio Note Japan, Shindo, Leben, Luxman, Allnic, Air Tight and the list goes on and on. He or she is either a bigot or an idiot or both.

Just curious does this dealer sell the unit you were inquiring about? If so yes a total idiot if not still an idiot.

@runwell makes a good point.

I wouldn't be as pessimistic as your dealer. Though they aren't built as well as an American brand, they do offer quite a bit for the dollar.

I went through the same tube lust phase, and ended up with Atmasphere products.

Ralph Karsten is a member here on Audiogon, and his products are about as good as you can get- Very reliable and don't require lots of fussing with tubes- though you are free to do so, if you wish. And, he is just a phone call away, should you need assistance.


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@carlsbad  What are good points you are!

You point out the most important things people play with the tube amplifier. There is learning curve existing,you won't stop to just buy one tube amplifier and usually you are on the searching journey!  You never thought you just get one step purchase.

That's why on first step,do not spend a lot of money. You spend small money and you feel,you taste,and you learn. That is the right way to go.

Regarding Aisa products, Japanese amplifier has very high built quality,and the only selection is that you like the house sound or not.

Op, search through the Forum threads and you find member commentary on Prima Luna, Line Magnetic, etc that they own that will speak differently about them then the dealer. Likewise, you can google for professional reviews on models you may have in mind. Personally, I have a Line Magnetic 518IA integrated amp for the last 5 or so years as one of the amps in my main system. I’ve had zero issues with it, it is solidly built and sounds, to my ears, really nice with some NOS tubes swapped in. No regrets purchasing it. As others have noted you can find really fine integrated amps manufactured in the US, Asia, Europe; don’t let a dealer’s agenda cloud your pursuit. Good luck

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Just so everyone knows, I have been doing a lot of research and was ready to buy. I have read plenty of forums, read reviews and looked for specific responses from owners. What I didn't know is the dealer I called (he is not my dealer btw.) was a former dealer of the product and seemed to have a real chip on his shoulder about Asian built amps. Following that conversation I contacted the U.S. importer who was much more helpful. I am after a push/pull type amp that offers a good soundstage I know I am not going to get the pinnacle of amps or I would have contacted Mr. Karsten directly. I just want to learn about the reliability of these amps from people who own them. I appreciate all the replies.

I'm a happy owner of several amps manufactured in China and Japan.  I purchased through US dealers with warranty and have no question that they can easily be serviced if the need ever arises.  The only amp I've ever owned that was plagued with service issues was a US brand (not going to mention it).  Never had a single problem with a Chinese or Japanese amp. 

All dealers carry amps made in china.


Line Magnetic



On and on.

Most dealers don’t carry the Chinese amps. They can actually be hard to fine other than direct shipped from China.

So many components are made in China that even if its assembled somewhere else, where is it really “made”?  My Kinki Studio proudly displays its “we come from china” label.  It is the best built amp I have owned.  Just beautiful build quality.

Biggest thing to understand is that Tube Amps are an investment. Buying a tube amp from China is like buying a Korean make automobile. They just don’t make an engine that will last. Pay a little more and have something you won’t need to get fixed over the time you are wanting to enjoy it. 

I saw Steve Gutenberg’s review of the Boyuurange A50 Mk3 300B tube integrated when he originally published it, and I ordered it from Amazon. It was the bargain of the year! But for someone trying it out, I agree with the comment above regarding ordering from Amazon so you can return it. But that comment about Chinese gear is ridiculous. I own some good gear. Some of it happens to come from Chinese or Singapore companies who build the gear in China. I hate to break it to you, but a lot of good gear, audio and otherwise is built in China and Taiwan. 

The dealer you contacted is trying to take advantage of your naivete. Best to disregard and forget what he said. I've had 2 China-built tube amps (one was a Cayin), I didn't find any fault with regard to the build and sound quality. Just make sure to always use good quality tubes from a reputable seller, the only issue I ever encountered with the Cayin was that I bought a faulty set of power tubes, the tube pins were filthy, and 2 of the tubes sparked and red plated. I had to have the amp serviced and they replaced a few resistors but after that, it was smooth sailing.    

Understand that thes Audiophile Feliacs, on You Tube, and there are plenty of them, are getting income from their expert opinions. They are doing well. Many feel that watching them will help them chose product. So much talking head stuff is like watching Network news these days. Beware

@woowoo ,

I hate to break it to you, but I have owned 4 Hyundai vehicles in a row, and I have NEVER ever had problems with the cars, engine, transmission or otherwise.  In fact, the Hyundais are much more reliable than anything I ever bought from Ford, Chrysler or the General, and better than the 3 Toyotas we also had.

Regardless of where is a piece of hi-fi equipment manufactured, components inside the unit speak for themselves!

Wow, I think we are all missing the essence of music reproduction.   It’s not where it’s made, or the circuitry, or the name on the faceplate.   It’s all about the music and service (to keep it sounding great).   I’ve had great and bad experiences with American made, Italian, English, Chinese, Japanese, etc.    Tube, SS, or hybrid is irrelevant.

Remember the MUSIC is what counts!

Your dealer is lying to you to push the products he wants to sell you, and he's using his xenophobia to appeal to people's prejudices. It's a pretty telling indication of his character, that's not someone you want to deal with.

Most statements made which rely on having to make such obvious generalizations are open to scrutiny. I’d go further and say that they positively invite scrutiny - as you are doing, and that’s tremendous..

By scrutiny I mean asking further questions and doing research into not just the brands but knowing a bit about each feature of tube amplification. You need to know how the transformers are constructed and how many windings and other technical things. Issues that may be not so relevant to solid state amps..

That's just one trite example of many possible issues.

This might freak some people out and there are specialist forums which may be informative.

Country of manufacture is a signal as to quality but is about as big a generalization as anyone could ever make (and sometimes they can be very accurate, of course, but rarely) and so back to my first statement.

Relax dude! 
I’ve owned Primaluna gear and they are fantastic if paired with the correct speaker in the correct room! When I lived in a cold climate

with a large home tubes were great! Now resettled in Florida tubes lost out due to the heat factor!

lots to consider- but making a decision based on country of origin is a bad move!

Consider the parameters 

the room

the heat 

that tubes need changing and that could be problematic too

also consider your music source 

lots of solid state units that can give the tube experience less the heat/tube factor

Peachtree, Cambridge, Rotel ( yes Rotel) are very pleasing full sounding amps!


Relax dude! 
I’ve owned Primaluna gear and they are fantastic if paired with the correct speaker in the correct room! When I lived in a cold climate

with a large home tubes were great! Now resettled in Florida tubes lost out due to the heat factor!

lots to consider- but making a decision based on country of origin is a bad move!

Consider the parameters 

the room

the heat 

that tubes need changing and that could be problematic too

also consider your music source 

lots of solid state units that can give the tube experience less the heat/tube factor

Peachtree, Cambridge, Rotel ( yes Rotel) are very pleasing full sounding amps!


Don’t try to satisfy a budget ! Expensive alone does not mean easy listening!

I’ve been down the “Rolls Royce” pathway !

this field is saturated with snake oil

what is important:

zero fatigue 

a good music source

High impact crisp hi and punchy bass are cute but to be able to turn it on and sit back and enjoy the music is what counts.

 Bei g restricted to a sweet spot is not fun-

i just went through a metamorphosis and got lucky

with my gear and the room and now I can enjoy music and read at the s  as me time - zero fatigue and not bright 

Nevertheless, different gear will have a different acoustic footprint but we all need to relax and enjoy the music. 



What is seldom talked about is a conditioner!

where I reside the electric source is a mess and v noisy. I purchased a conditioner

from Furman and it made an audible difference. One of the few “tweaks” that was worthy!

this year I purchased a Streamer, an integrated amp, a turntable, and speakers that were all refurbished from the manufacturer directly! I did not save anything- I just spent less! Many manufacturers offer outlet or b stock items with full warranty. This is probably due to consumers who can decide what to buy and return. If one looks carefully refurbished gear is plentiful from any manufacturer!

I only wish I did this over the years!

But the line conditioner was a good find!

I suggest that all get familiar with what is humanly audible vs what is pushed!

Can we hear the difference between a file that is 44.1 vs 96 vs 320 sample rate?

can we hear the difference between 15, 18 , 24 or 32 bit rates of the same music file ?

it’s time to enjoy the music-


I’ve got a McIntosh Mc275 and all the McIntosh tube are made in China...
I bought it in 2012 and just one week after it worked one of KT88 has burned and one of a 12AX7A of my C220 preamp. wicht it was replaced by a SOVTEK "made in Russia"
All the tubes are McIntosh’s brand but made in china...


Forget China! Member autospec (Will Vincent) builds and sells here on Agon nicely modded Dynaco ST70's. The ST70 holds the record for "most produced and sold" tube amp ever! I own an original along with one of Will's SET 45's. Excellent craftsmanship! 

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Many electronic products are made in Asia.  Some are well-made and of extremely high quality.  I think the biggest problem is warranty and service: If something goes wrong, will you be able to get the equipment serviced in the US or will you have to send it to Asia?  Obviously the latter is a problem.

I went the Amazon route as someone already mentioned. I bought the Muzishare KT88. I set it up with my Focal Kanta No.2s and a Rega RP8 with an Ortofon Cadenza Blue and Hegel V10 phono preamp. It sounded good. I was going to allow it to break in and see if it would sound great. I had it two weeks and got my hands on a set of Rogue M-180 monoblocks and the rest is history. I sent the Muzishare back to Amazon. Not a fair comparison I know but my point is go with the Amazon tube amp as you can send it back after a test drive if you are not happy with its performance. You won't be able to assess longevity but you will know if you prefer tube sound to SS.

My Tube amp, tube pre amp, speakers and source were all made in the USA and bought 25 years ago They are still going strong! I'll stick to USA made, thank you very much

@billzame I think the biggest problem is warranty and service: If something goes wrong,

Like what

@noske Like *anything* that might be under warranty other than a tube dying.    

Chinese audio products improving by leaps and bounds, some reaching into reference level quality.


And rather interesting, I'm seeing parts sourced from all over the world in some of their equipment. Nearly every single audio component is world sourced these days, get used to it.

Most Expensive Teas In the World ; Da-Hong Pao Tea – $1.2 million per kilo ; Tieguanyin Tea - $3,000 per kilo ; Panda Dung Tea - $70,000 per kilo.


I like their tea. Panda Dung tea is my favorite. They ain't savin' Pandas because they're cute. They want their $hit so, some nitwit somewhere else in the world will buy it for 70,000 per 2.2 lbs. 

I buy Chinese cables all the time. Best deal on the planet. NO I don't buy, cars, equipment, or anything over 200.00.

My TV is the exception. Samsung. SACDs are Sony. Where they were or are made I don't give a crap. I don't watch TV. I watch elections, concerts and Billy Graham recording I have. 40 years now.. NO TV..

Hyundai is a wonder to me. I've never seen such a crap company to work with. They could find or make just about any part for their heavy equipment in under a week, unless it had to be cast. 6 months I kid you not. Cat 2 months maybe. Their engines won't pass emission standards in the EU or the US. Fine for China and South Korea, though. :-)

I could alway get them going until the next time, I just never felt good that I did. Cat 3 times the life, Liebherr 4 times the life, John Deere 4 times the life. 10,000 hours is a push. 40,000 hours and a breakdown on a Liebherr means the hour meter is on the second go around. Not the first.. 140,000 hours. I can say the Cat or Cummins engine would last through 3 chassis overhauls. They wear you out replacing STUFF.

Chinese Heavy Equipment used a lot of Cummins engine for their heavy equipment, Direct copy except metric. Funniest thing I ever seen. Kobelco and Komatsu did it for 25+ years so they could pass US, EU emission standards.

I've had to work Kobelco engineers for an extended time too. Their travel mechanics are a pretty talented bunch. As good as I've ever seen. The funny part about their mechanics was the jokes about tools. Ribbing each other about their cheap Chinese tools, polishing their hard earned Snap-on wrenches..:-) While I polished up my German made Valadium wrenches.. They liked Edsels and Studebakers too. LOL. ALL mechanics are weird. I'm glad I retired from being "Kinda" weird..

No tube amps from China But I do have 4 2.1 50x2 100x1 amps I paid 29.00 each for. I can't break one. I been trying for 3 years.. 29.00 each. I have a Mac that's 60+ years old and one 12AX7 tube made in Germany took a crap 15 years ago. :-)

Maybe some CaCa tea for the round eye.. Wink Wink :-) Nixon loved Da-Hong Pao Tea. They gave him 2 oz at the time..


Don't get freaked out by the China amps.  Some are really good values and will blow away even those who think they are the best audiophiles.  Match them properly with some really efficient speakers such as Klipsch Heritage JBL, Tekton and you will be very happy.    Willsenton makes some great amps for value.  The R8 has point to point wiring build where as  even the Carver Crimson has a PCB board .   There is a great review from Jim at Tube Lab where he shows the build on your tube.  Roll some NOS tubes in and you will be amazed .    Service could be an issue but a local guy should be able to work on the amp if something happens.  I actually have two Chinese AMPS and both sound great and have had no issues.    Check the reviews on You Tube .  The store guy that wont sell you some amps is just because he hates competing with value shoppers.     Most of the other gear out there is made in China anyway so why an issue?  

May first tubey was a Stereo 70.  Got it for $4.  Must've been worth at least $5.  Think I must've either given it away or thrown it in the trash when I was done with it.  Many moons ago.

OP: i know who you're talking about. he pretty much told you verbatim what he told me. and he carries Chinese amps!!! how does that work??

Oh no! Another silly MIC thread.

The anti MIC's must have a special USA made keyboard computer setup to type their nonsense.

Let's see how long this one lasts.

If you get a Chinese amp that is sold by a US dealer you should be fine. I would avoid the cheaper Chinese tube amps that only seem to be available on Amazon or eBay. There is a reason they don't have dealer support!

We avoid Chinese parts in our equipment for reliability reasons, the exception being the tubes. The Chinese small signal tubes have been pretty good for us, the power tubes not so much- for them we use Russian made tubes. Oddly, the Russian small signal tubes don't seem to be that good IMO. The Chinese factory producing 6SN7s burned down a couple of years ago so they've gotten hard to get.

This issue is a bit prickly for me. For example if you are looking to repair a vintage audio piece that uses semiconductors, eBay has become a bad place to look for replacements because its flooded with Chinese knockoffs that won't meet spec and will likely fail if you try to install them. My personal concerns are how are the people treated that make the parts and the equipment? I do not know how much is real or imagined on my part. But there are companies that seem to do good work- Topping is one of them; they make extremely well engineered digital gear that is also at commodity prices- compact, reliable and also sound good.


I don’t really get it either. It would have been a quick sale for them since I was ready to buy. I’m in sales and know how to recognize a buying signal. I could outsell this guy by wide margins! Who cares what the customer wants. If they want to buy and you have the product then....


lack of stateside service and support is a real concern, as ralph points out

some china based vendors help solve this by offering free shipping back to location x where they do the servicing, and that can help some

some others reach a scale of sales in the usa or europe that they do set up a least a local repair facility, of course the lowest cost new entrants rarely have this sorted out

that said, tube amps are

-- usually pretty big and heavy, so any need for service or repair gets to be a bit of pain, and if the process requires a trip to china, it won't be by rapid courier, so prospective buyers like the op are well advised to think through these tradeoffs

-- not terribly complicated and circuitry is straightforward, so a local tech who works on tube amps can probably do the work

+1 for CAYIN.

this gave me confidence to try one, very glad I did.

you do want to consider where you will get support, I'm lucky to be 35 minutes away from VAS.



OP: I think he had an integrated for like $900 off, which was a great deal for that piece. So I asked questions. Then he ripped into his tirade. Just bizarre.

If everyone avoided/ deeply considered using Amazon the world would be a better place

I wouldn't trust that dealer for a second - he's got an agenda of selling you something and apparently believes that a good way to do this is to make some idiotic blanket statement like 'All amps made in China are junk' or something like that. I'd trust a Chinese amp before I'd trust this dealer.