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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: iMAc 1TB, WAV files connected to April Music Stello CDA500 [on review] via ALO Audio USB cable
Preamp/Integrated: Esoteric C-03, ModWright DM 36.5
Amplifier: Yamamoto A-09S, Woo Audio Model 5
Speakers: Zu Essence
Cables: Complete loom of ASI Liveline
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier rack, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters, Advanced Acoustics Orbis Wall & Corner units
Room size: The sound platform is 3 x 4.5m with a 2-story slanted ceiling above; four steps below continue into an 8m long combined open kitchen, dining room and office, an area which widens to 5.2m with a 2.8m ceiling; the sound platform space is open to a 2nd story landing and, via spiral stair case, to a 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls from a converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse and 2nd-story landing.
Review Component Retail: $200/ea. for 300B, $80/ea. for 6SN7
I can be piggish. Sometimes a lady does not protest enough. With review solicitations from China and brands utterly unknown to the West, pointed questions become vital to preempt certain issues which adventurous readers might encounter later. "I wanted to introduce myself as the CEO of Synergy Hifi, a key supplier of hifi products such as tube integrateds (6P1/6005W and EL84), hard-disk player, hifi tubes and Hifi fuses." - Dr. Ningsheng Liu.

Proposing their fuses, I took a look. "These look like AMR's which I already have." Mr. Liu was made of hardier stuff than falter at the first rejection. "That's okay. We also provide high-quality preamp tubes like 12AX/AU and AT7 and 6SN7." Interest and doubt reared their twin specters. "Do you manufacture those tubes or just relabel and distribute them?" This required a few e-mails to penetrate either reluctant Orientalism to be direct; or the language barrier.

"We manufacture them, actually not just the small-signal tubes but also power tubes like the 300B, 845, 6650, EL34 and EL84. Those are made with special materials and not just relabeled." I pressed on. "These tubes are made with our special nano materials and the electron beam welding is fixed to control the electron current. The vacuum of these tubes is 10-7 Torr which increases their life span and quality. The sound is amazing." Nano is the new cryo. Suddenly Bob's your nanny - er, nano. I wasn't convinced. "I looked at your website I couldn't see any tubes listed. But I did see the MiniWatt from Hong Kong. Under a different name." I felt on slippery ground.

"Our English website is still under construction. We are a Hong Kong-based company that was focused on the Chinese market so far. Our Mandarin website is Now that we have succeeded domestically, we wish to promote our products overseas. The APPJ 6P1 tube amp you saw is from the same Chinese company that did the MiniWatt. We are the overseas distributor. Now we will sell the newer EL84 tube amp instead of the older 6P1 model."

My inner pig surfaced and with it, suspicion. I'd reviewed the MiniWatt. The operators of the MiniWatt website had dispatched the loaner. Not Synergy. What did it mean? Remote viewing would be required to untangle the maze of Chinese hifi infrastructure. Back to basics then. "You aren't really answering my questions. Who makes your tubes? If you are, where is your factory? Do you have photos of it? If these tubes are made by Shuguang or TJ or some other Chinese factory which isn't your own, then they are not your tubes but simply rebranded."

Dr. Ningsheng proved undeterred by such irritatingly rude Western attitude that was clearly unfamiliar with cooperation and OEM. "We provide the materials and technology to Shuguang but these are not just rebranded tubes, they are made according to our own standards and technology." The pig snorted.
Shuguang is a huge enterprise and joint ventured with the Korean giant LG Group. Surely they were far too big to bother with supplying a small regional player with radically different—presumably superior—designs without insisting on volumes they couldn't possibly satisfy. I said so. What I didn't say was thinking that if Synergy's valves really explored new territory, how could Shuguang not incorporate such advances into their own products now or very soon? Liu didn't miss a beat. At least none I could spot.

"Yes, this technology and the materials are completely unique to our company. We provide them to Shuguang and monitor their production so no other brand of tubes uses them, not even Shuguang's own. For Shuguang, the minimum order for each model is 500. That's not a problem for us. Our tubes are totally different from Shuguang's new Black series, from the internal materials and construction to the appearance. Actually, we also produce many other hifi items including full-range drive units, a CD mat and a secret liquid. But I didn't mention those since we won't promote them for export now."

What else wasn't I told? What else should I ask? Surely price and warranty. I also had to insist on English pages. Else we'd both waste our time and readers would be left in limbo. "I still need to know what your warranty is, what the tubes cost and how my readers from around the world would buy them/pay for them. Do you have an online sales terminal? Do you take credit cards? What is the general turnaround on shipping? If a tube fails under warranty, does the customer return the faulty valve before getting a replacement? After?" I was perfectly willing to tango with a pair of upscale Sino 300Bs and 6SN7s. I just needed more hard facts first. "We promote our product in the domestic market under the Create Audio brand. Now we launched the Synergy Hifi brand for export. In the end, we decided to run with two brands. That's why we didn't provide you with any tube specs or put those on the English website."

"Our warranty for all our products is one year including tubes. The retail price for the 300B is $200/ea., the 6SN7 is $80/ea. All this will be on our English website in about one month. We will sell these tubes through local dealers and online through our web portal where we'll accept all credit cards and Paypal. If one buys online, the normal shipping time is 10 working days worldwide. To claim a warranty, the customer needs to return the tubes first if bought online. If bought from a dealer, it is much simpler - get a refund or immediate exchange from the dealer."

Now I just needed specifics on the nano materials, construction, pins, base, glass, coating and such. After checking with their technical department, Dr. Ningsheng added that "our tubes are made of our special nano alloy materials which fix the electron beam welding to get more stable electron current and are protected by a carbon-oxide compound coating. These tubes have a ceramic base and gold pins. Their outer envelope is quartz glass without coating. I can't provide more information about our inner material since this is our company's secret." Couldn't argue with that.

I told Mr. Liu how I'd compare his 300B to equivalents by EAT, EML, JJ, Shuguang and Western Electric on both my Yamamoto A-09S and Woo Audio Model 5 amplifiers; and his 6SN7 to the EH in the Woo which uses them as drivers for the direct-heated triodes.


* For electrical specifications, this
300B lists an anode power dissipation of up to 60 watts and in an appropriately adjusted circuit of single-tube amplification in class A1, is claimed capable of more than 20 watts of output power. The filament heater is 5V, filament current 1.2A. Anode voltage is 480V, anode dissipation 40 watts. Cathode current is 100mA self bias, 70mA fixed bias. Input capacitance is 9pf, output capacitance 4.3pf.

Discovering new valve production in 2010 was exciting. At this juncture, I thought of the Shuguang connection like loudspeaker houses who contract with ScanSpeak for custom drivers. They rely on a pre-existing technology platform, manufacturing infrastructure and scale of operations but specify certain materials, specs or assembly methods to acquire a unique part. The above exchange—perhaps overplayed a bit—also demonstrates how the prevalent outsourcing culture, OEM structure and multi-branding of similar or even identical products in the PRC can cause somewhat of an upfront barrier with cautious consumers (and me in the role as consumer by proxy). The best remedy then is to openly communicate the facts. As far as I was concerned, we now had enough to move to the next stage - to accept the solicitation and request review samples. I asked for one pair of 300Bs with one spare for backup; and one pair of 6SN7s.