Russian Tube Preamp, No Return, Here I go again

I decided to risk it, Russian, no return. (he accepted my $400. offer, so $500. delivered).

Gives me tubes in my office system.

I just read something:

People don’t want advice, just confirmation

I’m not looking for either (this time), just thought some of you would find it funny and wish me luck.

I’m 72, it may arrive before my 75th birthday
It looks interesting, let us know how it sounds. Will you have any problem with the voltage being 220v 50hz?
By the time you get it, you may have forgotten you ordered it.  In which case it will be an unexpected surprise!  I'd be interested in reading about your impressions. Good luck!
Looks like a winner, based on price.

Hopefully it outperforms expectations. Looks the part, maybe better than equally priced Chifi. 

Good luck-no surprises and smoke when powered up.

When you pay with paypal you CAN ALWAYS RETURN anything without reason, if you don’t like it. This is paypal buyer’s protection, even if the seller do not want to accept return you can make paypal claim and return it and paypal will give you full refund anyway!

There is not such thing as "no return" when you paid for goods with paypal, remember.

Make sure to ask for EMS shipping only!

Not Economy International as stated in his listing, it will take 2 month or even longer.  

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Why would you buy anything from Russia anyway as it is the home of the BIG SCAM.
Right, @ebm Just think of those famous Russians who said, ""There's a sucker born every minute" and "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Clearly Americans are the honest ones and Russians are all scammers. ;-)
What’s done is done, and I wish you the best of luck. But for $400 or $500 there is a lot of good vintage equipment that you can buy right here in the USA with known brand names and known quality. I am just saying. Not unlike the stuff you already own.
Probably the biggest concern would be international shipping. It is a total PITA these days for various reasons. I won’t do it, not even small items. Just not worth it. Who knows though? It might just be one awesome pre! Good luck! You did order it in 110v right?
’.... Just think of those famous Russians who said, ""There’s a sucker born every minute" and "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." Clearly Americans are the honest ones and Russians are all scammers. ;-)


These quoted quips alleged to be sourced to “famous Russians” are actually attributed to your own home-brew made-in-the USA Americans > 60-100 years ago,and have nothing to do with Russians.

To wit per WIKIPEDIA:

“There’s a sucker born every minute" .....A famous saying about gullibility is usually attributed to the well-known showman P. T. Barnum who died in 1891.

“"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." ... Widely attributed to American author and social critic H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) but not found exactly verbatim in his published work.

It certainly seems to be worth the money from the looks under the hood. Neatly laid out and far from empty. It doesn't say anywhere on the case that it was made in Russia though. My bet is that you will find it was well worth what you paid for it.
This past year, I took a similar gamble that really paid off. I had a little money to spend and was looking for a good deal on a pre to dethrone the one I had been using for around 15 years, and had tried to replace with a Joule Electra L100 as well as a Lamm LL2 Deluxe. I saw an ad for a tube pre by Viking Acoustics for a good price, and I took the chance and bought it. I did that because I knew that they make very good speakers, and I figured that they wouldn't be selling shabby electronics.
As it turns out, they have their electronics built for them by an independent builder/designer named Kevin Elliott, and that pre has turned out to be sonically superior to any pre I have ever owned.
Sometimes it pays to take a chance, if the price isn't too high. 
I purchased an LCR phono stage from a guy in Russia on the advice of a member here. He built it pretty quick but it did take nearly two months for me to receive it after it was shipped. Given what I paid for it, the unit is quite good. You don't have much too lose with the purchase and you might be surprised when you finally get to hear it.
@ akg_ca

you missed the humorous sarcasm.  Hilde45 knows very well those were American quotes
Of course they're American. It was an attempt to set in relief the bigoted, sweeping generalization made by Mr. all caps never punctuates Magico fanboy.
Sure a good sales pitch. If they give you what they say, you're better than gold. Your ruble!!

I just wish all the valves were 12AU or T or X 7s or 6SN7s.
No SS rectifier either. I don’t know why they use the weird valves.

Serious cable size too.. Sure looks nice, nice layout. Phono is as far away as it can be from the transformer/PS. Nice!

I’ve never had a problem in China or the old USSR countries. Took time to get here some times.. So far no goofs.. 100 + orders between the two in the last 15 years or so..

Not so much China.. But cables.. hard to beat them.. Killer prices on GREAT cables. Man my fingers thank them.. LOL

Why do you wish for 12AU, T, or X7s?
6SN7s and 12AU7s don't have sufficient gain for a phono input tube but could be used elsewhere in circuit, I suppose. The Russian triodes tend to be re-makes of older very high transconductance triodes, like 5687 and 6922, etc.  Not a bad thing, IMO. I don't think tube replacement is going to be a big problem for Elliot.
That Russian seller has 100% positive feedback on ebay (and buyer fully protected by paypal), but some strange posters here still talking about scammers from Russia.

Regarding shipping from Russia to USA I will give you one example, my own parcel has been shipped on FEB 2, 2021 and in 10 days it was in NY,USA. Look at usps tracking.

This is why my advise to the OP is to ask that seller for EMS shipping!

If he will ship with cheaper registered mail then your order can be in transit for 1-2 month.

P.S. Just like in the topic about new “Russian cartridges” I want to admit that no single part of this “handmade” tube amp was made in Russia, except for the tubes. So it’s correct to say that it was only assembled in Russia, but all parts are import parts (not Russian). Except Chinese parts inside this amp. In my opinion it’s a cheap looking amp, like any DiY projects. 
Hope it works out. In my experience it's the customs process (leaving Russia and then clearing USA ) that can take quite a bit of time.
@chakster  Good point about cheap parts. It is a given nowadays, however, that most electronic parts in gear from all countries have majority origin in China sadly, yet some are better than others and implementation is key.

@chakster by 'new cartridges' from Russia I believe you are referring to Sensitive Sound. I wish you would desist in making assertions about Sensitive Sound based on your assumptions. They are misleading...
There are NO delay on custom check on export from Russia, never. It takes a few minutes, just scan of the parcel, nothing else.
Import duties are important, not export. So when US custom inspect imported parcel there can be a delay, but only for 3-7 days.

Before covid delivery from Russia took only 7-14 days worldwide with the cheapest registered mail. After covid same service will take 2-3 month and it’s all over the world with all international postal service. 
EMS (Express Mail Service) from Russia before covid was so quick, normally 3-5 days worldwide, now up to 1 month. 
Good point about cheap parts. It is a given nowadays, however, that most electronic parts in gear from all countries have majority origin in China sadly, yet some are better than others and implementation is key.

No one in Japan will use Chinese parts in their tube amps design. I got Japanese amp myself (Yamamoto A-08s). 
But I’ve seen clones of everything in Russia, they steal design of phono stages, amps, whatever. It’s a Russian tradition since the Soviet days, original designers never get their royalties. Same happened with foreign musicians who’s records bootleged in USSR by local pressing plant and sold in million copies. 
In support of what Chak says about expedited shipping, I have purchased various capacitors from Russian vendors on eBay.  The shipping time is very short, sometimes as little as 4-5 days.  Much faster than buying from Canada, most of the time.  I stopped using one Canadian parts supplier because customs was so slow.
My experience on many shipments has been 1 to 7 days outbound from Russia and 1 to 5 days inbound usa, in addition to actual mail time. These steps are spelled out in ems tracking.
Japan is no doubt the high mark of modern audio manufacturing. Lets take speakers as an example: where are the Fostex parts made? The Berylium in TAD? The basket for literally all cone speakers?

Now about capacitors and resistors. Maybe a few topline examples are assembled in Japan (or UK etc.) Even then the raw materials?

I am not saying I like it. It is just how things changed over the last 20 years.
From everything I've read there's quite a thriving hifi scene in Russia and Moscow in particular. The preamp looks solidly built and given the relatively low price and positive feedback it seems like a reasonable gamble. I hope it gets to you soon and you post some impressions @elliotbnewcombjr
I noticed they spelled Vacuum tubes as vacuuum tubes on the preamp.  That would make me pause. I hope you get it quickly and it sounds good. Today the USPS stated they are planning to do away with 2 day delivery on Priority Mail, the price to Mail anything is going way up and your daily Mail will arrive much slower. I don’t know why the president doesn’t get rid of the Postmaster General, as he is a leftover from the previous Admin. Until Congress repeals the law that the USPS has to have the pension money fully paid up for the next years in advance (no other company has to do this),, the postal service will lose money. They lost 7 billion in 2020.
US Priority Mail has long been the best bargain available. I hope they don’t screw it up.
The question I would ask is,"Is it from the ROLAND DARK Sound Laboratory or the Roland DARK SOUND LABORATORY?"
Why do you wish for 12AU, T, or X7s?

They are popular, simple, the goof ball valves are NEVER a good choice for a build, just a cheap way. 50 cent valves in surplus Russia.. LOL

I know exactly why they used them.. They can!!

They are not the only ones to use TV tubes to build stuff.. 6NS7 very popular NOW, sure wasn't 25 years ago..
WHY, surplus and cost.. they use to be dirt cheap, surplus.. Carys favorite valve..

Reasonable gamble for a relatively low price. Only advice I have is I would not hook directly into your main system right away. If you have some spar components that you don't care about then feed into them first and see how it goes.
I concur with the earlier post about there being no such thing as “no returns” on eBay no matter what the seller’s policy says. eBay is very buyer focused with potections. The say that they have Seller Protection. But that is a load of cr@p. If you change you mind on this Russian amp, take a look at any number of quality tube amps made in China. I just bought a 300B tube Chinese amp on Amazon. Got it with Prime shipping in 2-3 days. I couldn’t be happier. Plus if I didn’t like they would likely have me drop it off at my local Kohl’s. Oh, and that amp with tax cost me $800. 
I bought a Conrad Johnson tube amp from a guy in central Russia. Took it 1 week to make it west to the Norwegian border. It took 3 more weeks to make it to my doorstep. The guy did an expert job packing it. Not even the separately packed tubes had a scratch on them. $475.

So, there’s hope! 
Reading the information in the Link, the Pre appears to be a Clone based around a Kondo Design.

Whether the Kondo and this Design Purchased are anything like each other in SQ might not be discovered.

The Info on the Phonostage is quite limited, so that if used will have to be a suck it and see affair.

As for Retro Japanese, the designs usually lean towards a richness in a presentation.
If not controlled it can have a Weighty Bass to Overwhelming Bass Bloom, either of these present, can produce a Subdued Mid and High.

Looking at the 6N23P EV these types are known to not over emphasize the Frequencies when assessing for SQ.
The user reports are that these Tubes are usually performing as very well balanced throughout the frequencies.

Maybe (an assumption)  the Pre's Builder has chose to use Tubes that are going to be a little more lean and balanced in their presentation,
resulting in offering  a tighter Bass Note that will be a little more transparent. 
I'm sure the reports on usage will reveal the SQ of the Pre'.

If Tube Rolling is off interest, the 6N23P and 6N23P EV are a little different and are not direct swaps.
I discovered this as I was looking to extend a Tube Roll on a Phonostage to 6N23P Tubes vs 6922 and E88CC.         
If you want Russian get Lamm from Vladimir. That thing looks like crap, there is electricity involved, be careful.
In all my dealings throughout the world, including Russia and China and Japan, I have never had a single problem. Most people are good.
Looks like something Stereophile would have fawned over back in the 90s. That's not an insult; I own an a Audible Illusions tube pre from that era and won't part with it. I love that "low production" look. 
    Hope the gamble pays off. Let us know!

I'm unsure about the meaning of "The power supply is linear, designed for the primary voltage 220V, frequency 50Hz Perhaps under the order another voltage", mentioned twice - does that mean you had the option of requesting another voltage?  Well, if it works out, great; if not, you're only out at the most $550.  As with most Chinese goods, if it breaks you have to fix it yourself or throw it away.

Don't say anything important around it - it might be listening (and might be sharing information with Siri and Alexa).
I was looking at the toroidal transformer for some wiring information.  Hoping for good news.  Noticed:  Boy, that one tube is really close to the transformer.  And behind the transformer are the output jacks.  Also very closely mounted.  Here's my head scratcher.  Must be technology I'm not familiar.  How does the signal get from the output board to the output jacks?
Is this supposed to be a working unit?  It appears to me that the line out’s don’t have any leads going to them.

All the best.

Top trend in Russia this days- ordering assembly kits from China by mail for extremely cheap then just put it together on own knees :)

I thought this would bring a great many laughs,

and was especially waiting for chackster and lewm who did not disappoint: more positive this time as they now know it's pointless to discourage me when I get the bug about something, and I am willing to take risks.

Forget, surprise when arrives, funny thought, actually that happens to me with things that arrive within a week, what is this????


The seller communicates very well.

It is already made, they just need to install the 120v transformer, then out to me. They have a 1 year guarantee. 

"New message from: raketoff (64)

In fact - of course - we provide warranty service and replacement. Only once there was a case when the buyer inserted the tubes into the wrong slots and burned the circuit board. We sent a new board and gave detailed instructions for replacement."

Fortunately, the problem only occurred once - as we thoroughly test the devices before shipping.

"New message from: raketoff (64)

We guarantee a year of support free of charge (included in the price of the product). Of course, if there is no severe mechanical damage :)

If suddenly a breakdown in the second year of work (I hope this does not happen!) - we will also provide support, but if it is necessary to send new boards (for example), we will ask you to pay postage. The minimum (with a small parcel weight) international mail rate is about $ 40 (there are simply no cheaper parcels). But we will decide there, depending on the breakdown (I repeat - I hope it will not be).

Now our devices are working in Singapore, Australia, Brazil, the USA - and of course - in Russia - there were no complaints. But we are ready for support and guarantees."

After I see it, I may buy a 2 year square trade warranty. I would never plan on sending it back to Russia. They send parts, I fix or get it fixed here.

This thread has also brought some very interesting information and opinions, quite a range if you skim other's comments.

It was never about price, I started looking only for a tube phono.
I saw this, almost bought it

But this one popped up, I realized my Reel to Reel would be fun thru tubes, so it turned into tube preamp, phono and 1 input enough. Now, I'll bring my 1958 Fisher 80Z Tube Mono Blocks out of semi-retirement, giving me two systems in mt office. An analog system phono/tape and a SS system for CD/Streaming via my computer to existing SS Carver Cube. That will keep the heat down, reduce tube life most of the time.

I'm looking forward to hearing those Russian Tubes. Curiously they say 'vintage' tubes:  "vintage 6N4P low-noise tubes (you can also use modern analogues 6072WA or 12AY7"

I like wood, like the end panels, they will blend right in with my office bookshelves. And the retro look, and to me, the innards look good. Modern remote volume will be nice as it will not be going thru my Chase Line Controller.


chackster, I wrote the seller about EMS, will share his reply.

Once, while discussing furniture options with a client, CBS Data Center, I told a programmer, who was Asian, this option (the best functional choice) will take 12 weeks. All  the other programmers were horrified, chose the readily available option. He said "that is but a drop of time". I decided I would try to have Oriental Patience from then on.

I've ordered direct from China, Japan, Russia, Canada. I'm patient. When I saw the long delivery date I thought, no way; but like the Blackbird Tonearm, nothing else truly appealed to me.

My Chinese Integrated Amp, A88T is one of my most successful purchases, it sounds fab with zero noise. I bought it used, here in USA so delivery was quick.

My Russian Tonearm got to USA quickly, but sat dormant at USPS JFK airport for weeks, until my local PO contacted them, then right away.

JVC Plinth and TT81 from Canada was fast.

I just ordered cables and connectors direct from China thru Wish, they came sooner than promised, very high quality, amazing prices. 

thanks everyone for your thoughts, I will compare it to my beloved McIntosh mx110z downstairs first, then up to my office. Maybe Bill will get up here to listen with me. I/we will definitely let you know how it sounds.


However real professional audio gear guys does exist in Russia. I saw top notch hand made amps based on 805 power tube (Wavac clones) made and sold there and the price range was around $50K.  Look at this Russian audiophile... he build his house starting with concrete basement as listening room and everything else was built on top of it:))))