A Dared review here on Audiogon:
M-STAR (MING-DA) EL84 STEREO TUBE INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER
(or… it is possible to get High Fidelity for under $1,000?)
• True high fidelity
• Ample power and volume
• Excellent value
• Beautiful design
What is High Fidelity? The base line against which any hi-fi system is to be compared is a live performance. This is the holy grail of all audiophiles. For a more technical discussion see Gerard Rejskind’s article at http://www.uhfmag.com/book1.html
My quest was to find a system on which to listen to my CD collection in my den, at reasonable volumes. My dilemma was that my audiophile friends had led me to believe that to obtain even an entry level system that provides high fidelity I would have to spend thousands of dollars.
I auditioned several receivers and amplifiers within my budget, including solid state integrated amplifiers ranging from a JVC 6.1 home theater system with 100 watts per channel to a NAD C320BEE with 50 watts per channel. Then I listened to a tube amplifier system that my friend had constructed for himself using 45 year old Dynaco components. This was the closest to “live” that I had heard so far. I began to understand what people on the Internet were talking about when they referred to the “fat”, “warm” tube sound.
I researched this do-it-yourself approach on the Internet. I felt that I was competent enough with a soldering iron to do the renovation work needed. Thus began my search for tube amps on e-Bay. I couldn’t believe the prices people were paying for 40 to 50 year old tube amps. By the time I added $200 for new tubes, capacitors and resistors, not to mention solid silver wire and gold plated connectors, I estimated I would have to pay at least $1,200 to get an upgraded Dynaco amp and pre-amp.
Then I came across the M-Star integrated amplifiers on e-Bay, offered by MAXTECHHENERY. I contacted the seller, since his location is near where I live, and asked for an opportunity to audition the amps.
I brought my own speakers and reference CDs over to Maxtech AV Services in Richmond, BC . Henry has an impressive array of tube amplifiers on display. The larger ones look like you could toast marshmallows near them!
He offered me excellent service, and set up two amps for me listen to in his comfortable test room, the MC34-A and the MC84-C
I listened to a wide range of live music by Dianna Krall, and my favorite live recording Jazz at the Pawnshop. The MC84-C was the bet fit with my Bose speakers. It is beautifully constructed with gold and chrome plating. It has Russian tubes and top quality components inside.
Henry opened a new box for me to test the amp I was buying, and the first item in the box was a pair of white gloves! I was impressed already. The gloves are to prevent your fingerprints from spoiling the beautiful finish, and they are also useful for handling the tubes.
After a few hours of warm-up time at home, I can report that the sound is fantastic. The power of this amp is at least equal to a 50 watt solid state amp. I have not played it above half volume so far. The vocals on Diana Krall, Tracy Chapman, and Eric Clapton recordings are amazingly realistic. The snare drums, clarinet, and horns are smoother and more realistic than I have ever heard on a solid state amp.
The little EL84 tubes put out ample bass. Holly Cole’s Temptation album sounded so smooth. I cranked up the volume for Pink Floyd’s The Wall and was rewarded by crisp bass and percussion. Loud, but easy on the ears are the words that come to mind.
I rediscovered many of my old recordings and have now separated them into two piles – really good recordings and mediocre recordings. The only down side to this amplifier is that the poor recordings stick out like a sore thumb.
I would recommend this amp to anyone. I believe it would be best matched to high efficiency speakers such the Bose 201 (or 301) or a Klipsch tower with high efficiency horn tweeters.
For the latest in CD players, the combination DVD players such as the latest Sony or Pioneer SACD decks are under $200 and have the highest sample rating available.
Contact Henry at. , firstname.lastname@example.org
MC34-A (see http://www.meixingaudio.com/ENGLISH/products/mc34-a.htm
MC84-C (see http://www.meixingaudio.com/ENGLISH/products/mc84-c.htm
Bose 201 Series V bookshelf speakers. (see http://www.epinions.com/pr-Speakers_Bose_201_Series_IV_Speaker_Speaker_BOSE201/display_~reviews
I heard both. They were the worst sounding amp I've ever heard. Even worst sounding than the vintage Heathkit SA-2 EL84 Push Pull I have. What a disappointment. Lack of high and low frequency extension. Overall, lack of transparency. They all share the same characteristic -- nice and warm sound. However, it is very flat and boring sound. Smooth alright. Like listening through tripple layers of bed sheets in front of your speakers.
The only thing going for them is the looks. Sure they look very appealing. Much nicer than the vintage gears I own.
If you compared them to the Home theater amps then it is better. If you like to buy new gear and this is only thing within your budget then it is okay to blow few hundred away for owning a nice looking decor. Watch out for fire hazard on some of their high voltage model. If you're using them for pure music pleasure and want something affordable then I suggest you look else where for some US made vintage gears.
Just my 2 cents with my personal experience.
9 of 10 of these chinese amp owners I know arond me sold them within 2 month and took the lost.
Some lost thousands the the Antique Sound Lab high end gear, and some took small lost on the Ming Da and the Dare stuff. The Bez model is cheaper and offer the same or better quality of Ming Da, Jolida and Dare I've listen to.
If Chinese Amp is what you want then I would suggest you take a look at Bez.
S23chang may be over stating his dislike of the Ming-da a little bit. However he is correct most Chinese tube amps are on the warm, smooth and fat side. The Chinese tend to like things on the romantic side. Which is probably why the majority of tube CDP's come from China.
I had a Jolida 202A which is voiced for extra warmth and bloom. I came to perty much the same conclusions about the Jolida, that S23chang came to about the Mingda: smooth, warm, romantic but ultimatly a little boring and flat.
However many like the sound so I wouldn't discount it, we all hear differently and all have different needs.
Just make sure you are no a tube amp novice. Unlike the Jolida with external biasing the Ming-da requires internal biasing-burning then rebiasing. If not a competent tech will do this for around $100.
Maxx make a great point "Just make sure you are no a tube amp novice."
While Ming Da might not be the worst Chinese amp, it is still have very high failure rate like other Chinese amps. They discontinue their "bad" model so fast that new model come out every year or so. A friend of my call up the dealer from Hong Kong regarding to the Ming Da amp he bought from them one month ago (as a latest model) and he was told that model already discontinued due to high failure rate. Obviously the amp left his house to some "novice" buyer the following week.
I always suggest my buddies to get a chinese amp for dirt cheap and throw away its transformers, caps, resistors and pots and replace it with the proven circuit and audio grade parts. This way you can have the best of the both world. You get your nice appearance with real audio grade parts.
I know this thread is asking about amps but I'll throw my 2 cents in anywhay.
I have a Dared SL-2000A preamp with Bugle Boy 12AT7's and a fat RCA rectifier.
I bought this preamp because it looked cool and I wanted to compare it to my $1600.00 'Stereophile Class B' well respected, USA made preamp with VG NOS tubes.
I since have sold the 'well respected' preamp as the Dared simply is a better sounding preamp.
I bought the Dared NIB from a dealer for $315.00
David99, As far as preamp goes, it doesn't require good output transformer and the current and voltage requirement are less limited factor by its power transformer. Therefore, preamp is a very different story. As long as you have the proper design then it will sound decent. Not sure what class B preamp you have but most of the tube preamp will sound better than its solid state counterpart in the same price or higher price range. Since we're not talking about preamp, we can have this discussion else where.
Hi David, Even though I've never heard any Dared. I don't doubt what you heard at all. My amp (Jungson) and CDP (Eastound) are both Chinese. I've been into audio since 1973 and these are the two best pieces of equipment I have ever owned.
From my experience and the feedback from other owners of top tier Chinese products its very normal for them to compete with products at 3-4X the price and more.
I also wouldn't doubt if many owners of Ming-da feel the same way. Its all what you value in sonics and how it matches your other equipment.
Chang- It seems the author of this thread doesnt know much about these amps.
In the case of Dared,I posted to let him know the Dared preamp is an over achiever.
I thought that would at least be of interest to him, as my findings may reflect upon the sound qualities of Dared amps as well.
You mention my old preamp and solid state in the same sentence.The preamp is a tube based preamp.Read my post again.
You wrote "since we are not talking about preamp,we can have this discussion elsewhere"
Why dont we let the author of this thread decide that?
Maxx-Although I have never heard your East Sound player I have read wonderful things about it.
It was on my short list of players I have been researching lately.
I ended up with a Xindak SCD-2.
This player caused the biggest sonic improvement to my system I have ever experienced.
I had high expectations for this player,but I can honestly say.This player far exceeds the expectaions I had.
It STOMPS a similarly priced 'brand name' SACD/CD player I borrowed for a time recently.
BTW the 'brand name' was a Stereophile class A in the last rec.component issue.
Its too bad some of these Chinese products cant make it into Stereophile.
I feel they are a real threat to US products.
Glad to hear it David! I know some of the early Xindak's had problems reading certain discs. But they went to work on it and have corrected the problem. Not unusual, the earlier model Eastsound CD-5 had a few bugs they had to work out.
Yes, although the Eastsound isn't tubed like the Xindak, a importer borrowed mine for a few days to see what all the hype was about. He had a Jolida and Shengya tube player and was really suprised when he learned the Eastsound employed no tubes.
I had the same experience. Many posts seem to indicate a good CDP upgrade won't give near the sonic improvements as a amp upgrade. I wasn't sure what to expect when I upgraded from a Cambridge Audio CDP. Well worth the effort and I can say it also exceeded my highest expectations.
Amen to the reliability issues!Purchased a pair of 805 monos from Audioguy (china)- a big mistake! The left tube went dead before I even had a chance to hear them!Ordered new tubes from California because I did not want to wait,and the next night the right amp died altogether!My local tech is very knowledgable (a tremendous asset if you are going to take a chance on these)and got them working 100% within a couple of weeks.Basically just faulty resistors.In the mean time the factory exchanged the bad tube for the wrong one! (no top plate connector).The dealer didn't care,and sold me out for a lousy tube.Ordered a MC-767 phono from another Chinese concern and had much better luck-120 hr. burn in and excellent customer service! As far as the sound- wonderful! I have used these amps with Quad ESL -63s,Altec Valencia horns,and Merlin VSM Ms all with great results. These are an outstanding value if you are willing to take a chance on them,but they are not for the timid!
Ive own a Markhill (rebadged yaqin) 6l6a tube amp and found this to be a good entery level 23 watt amplifier it cost me approx ($ 850 AUD) about ($680 USD) new in the box delivered.And must admit was dissapointted with it at 1 st untill I started down the path to tube rolling.
I rolled the original 6l6 gcr electron tubes to (svetlana c winged 6l6gc) and rolled the smaller no name brand tubes to (Jan 6922 (8613)Phillips ECG) tubes this was a great improvement giveing it a bigger more 3d soundstage,the added beifit was it sounded better at lower volume settings and I did'nt have to drive the amp as hard to get a better responce.
From there I rolled the svets to tung sol kt 66 and still use the Jan 6922 tubes. it now sounds pretty dam good for a a $680 chinnese amp ,(IF I HAD TOO) stick with this amp, I would be more than happy to ,if you've got got a low budget this is a good amp in my humble opinion.
I also own a Mcintosh mc 240 tube amp (and waiting for delivery of a 2nd one)these are a whole different beast and way more expencive amp ,I wont go into how these amps sound because they are legendary and there's stacks of threads out there,and its all been said before by more experienced guys than I .Bye Paulie
I have been passionately into audio, pro and otherwise for the last 20 years. I meet with a group of audio nuts every week and have the opportunity to listen to a wide range of gear. Last Saturday someone brought in the Yaqin mc100 (with upgraded caps and driver tubes).
I was floored with it's musicality and performance. It was romantic indeed, and it was 3 dimensional in it's imaging. The speakers were a difficult load (Infinity Quantum 2's I believe) and the Yaqin had no trouble driving it. I can't say I've heard a more involving amplifier, and everyone in attendance agreed. Everyone was grinning and tapping their toes. It was truly a revelatory experience.
With this group, and in my own collection I have heard many of the prestigious brands and some great vintage restorations. While most of them sound as good as you might expect, the only amplifier that I have liked as much as the Yaqin was a Mac MC 24o. Total cost of the amp, plus upgrades, was about 1K.
I might add, that we meet at an audio repair shop, and at this shop I have seen many of the top brands in for very expensive repairs at a very young age.
I have ordered one. I look forward to the tweaking to come.
I used a Ming-Da MC34-B integrated amp in my small office system for a few years: 22 wpc, 2 inputs, 4 SED 6L6GC power tubes with 2 Russian military 6NP1 and 6NP2 signal tubes. Nice sound, reliable (no problems)with substantial iron transformers. Good value for the price. Kept it for my back-up amp for my home system.
For a period, Ming-Da had a problem with reliability mainly due to gray-market amps that did not meet their normal quality control standards. But otherwise they are generally well designed and well-built for their price range. My only problem was you had to bias the power tubes from underneath the amp, which was a hassle.