|Reader Richard Hing forwarded an eBay link to a Mr. Chan Lau's posting out of Fotan, Hong Kong, advertising the TMS T-200 MkII which, for all intents and purposes until you peek under the covers and learn the back story, looks like a cloned Glow Audio Amp One.
Naturally, the face plate is different and the mains switch and headphone jack haven't yet been relocated to the sides.
The back is identical except for the silk screening.
Without the next photo, the TMS unit could go for an outright clone.
Under the hood however, major differences are apparent. The vital output transformers are significantly smaller; there is no shielding partition; the input stage is PCB rather than point to point; the main capacitors and other parts are different too. Even the chassis, despite the same form factor, proves not the same.
When I forwarded the same eBay link to Glow's Patrick Tang, he wasn't surprised. "What you see on eBay is not a knock-off. It is an old Kenny Wu amp, made when he had a company called Timester which has been out of business since 2006. I know because when I was scouring China for someone who could make a small SE-based amplifier, I spoke with Mr. Wu among many other amp makers. I liked the Timester amp. It had some good features including the USB port and a pretty good sound. However, it needed substantial improvements as it utilized cheaper off-the-shelf transformers, the USB was not properly grounded and had static problems and the amp relied on printed circuit boards instead of point-to-point wiring. It also used a cheap locally made attenuator and a number of components that we felt needed to be upgraded."
"Glow contracted Mr. Wu to produce our Amp One, which would utilize the same chassis as his earlier Timester amp but otherwise be redesigned per our specifications. Shortly before we entered into contract, Kenny formed a new company named GuangLong and relinquished 51% of his ownership interest to an investor. When we signed the contract, it was with GuangLong, not Timester (Timester was defunct at that point). We acquired the rights to the Timester amp. It was understood that Mr. Wu was to be the lead in developing the Amp One.
"But GuangLong fired Mr. Wu shortly after we entered into the development stage. GuangLong became very difficult to deal with and the new management had no experience making tube amplifiers. We realized hat GuangLong could not make the amps to our requirements and ended our relationship. The company subsequently went out of business. Even though we lost all our money, it was the right decision for us - far better than continuing a relationship with a company that couldn't deliver! We don't blame Kenny Wu. He too was a victim of the GuangLong melt down but has since found new work.
"We located another amp maker with a verifiable track record and redesigned the Amp One again, from the ground up. It still utilizes a chassis based on the old Kenny Wu Timester amp and even retains the same external dimensions but is completely different inside. There are still a number of old Kenny Wu designed Timester amps floating around being sold over eBay but they are not even a Glow knock-off, just conceptual precursors without our improvements. They are not being distributed in the USA directly but are only available on eBay, shipped from Hong Kong.
"We learned a big lesson with GuangLong. Doing business in China carries certain risks. Now we have retained who we believe are the best amp engineers in China to work for us and I think it shows in the results! And, we contract with an independent American-run QC company in China to inspect and bench test each unit before it is approved for shipping, to provide independent verification that our standards are being met. And to be sure, nobody has the right to rebadge our Glow amp. It is our exclusive product. Should clones show up in the future, they would be unauthorized rip-offs."