Psvane is a brand name – owned by a private group of audiophiles inside and outside of China together. Initially some of the members of this private group worked for Shuguang and they were the key R&D personnel for the hugely popular ‘black bottle’ Shuguang Treasure series.
As the Treasure tubes became popular and in demand, the profit sharing arrangement between the key development personnel and the quasi-government controlled Shuguang Group started to become out of balance, which eventually resulted in earlier 2011 the sales rights of Treasure tubes were officially removed from this group of key R&D personnel. This event has triggered the formation of Psvane brand to maximize financial return on their tube expertise. A separate company called ‘Heng Yang Electronics’ is also later formed for Psvane tube production. The company has trade name as ‘Psvane Audio’ and is a registered entity in Hong Kong.
Where are the Psvane tubes were made?
Initially when the relationship with Shuguang hasn’t completely gone sour yet, the Psvane tubes were made by Shuguang tube factory under contract. When Shuguang cut off the R&D team from profit sharing on Treasure tubes, many of the R&D and production members decided to leave Shuguang to join the new Psvane Audio to become investors and profit sharing employees.
In May 2011 with the efforts of the R&D team, a small scale production facility was set up close to Shuguang to start producing large tubes such as 845 and 211′s. Grant Fidelity visited the facility in September 2011 when it is on last stage of commissioning before production.
In Oct 2011, Psvane Audio made another major movement by buying out all the equipment and production team of Guiguang Tube Factory in southern China. Coming with the Guiguang buy-out deal is the ex Chief-designer of Shuguang, who left Shuguang before Psvane Audio was born to help revive Guiguang since 2010. (If you don’t know who is Guiguang, read my post here).
With Guiguang facility under Psvane Audio control and ownership, now Psvane Audio is on the way to develop and launch a full range of new high quality tubes.
What tubes does Psvane Audio make?
From the initial Psvane T-series vacuum tubes, the new Psvane Audio will have multiple series of tubes and related products available to the market:
Vacuum tubes: including 3 series
- T series (the high end black bottle tubes) – started production since 2010 first by Shuguang under contract, now by Psvane themselves
- HiFi series (the affordable clear glass tubes for everyone) – started production since Nov 2011. Great for replacing your stock tubes coming with the amp. Thicker glass enclosure, improved base and pin on some models over the Shuguang generic tubes.
- Western Electric Replica Series (WE series) – these tubes are created with materials from the same source as the original WE tubes (wonder why the WE Re-issue from USA never become reality again?) and they are 1:1 100% replica, not just on technical specs, but also on appearance. They will let you share a piece of the legendary history Western Electric tubes and re-live the glory of vacuum tubes era. First model now available is the highly sought after 100% replica WE300B. Other models will be added over time.
A: T-series is further split to two sub-grade based on Psvane Audio’s own test results: T-Classic Grade (OK to good, less expensive) and T-Collection Grade (better to best, most expensive). This grading criteria is similar to Shuguang Treasure tubes split to Standard and Premium grade based on factory test results.T-Classic Grade: this grade includes the most commonly used power tubes and preamp tubes – all models overlap with Treasure series (including 300B-T, KT88-T, 6CA7-T and CV181-T). This T-Classic Grade directly compete with Shuguang Treasure series standard grade domestic market in China. Packaging: T-Classic Grade tubes are packed in dark blue paper box individually. Price: high end but discounted from the T-Collection grade below. 2nd most expensive Psvane tubes out of factory. T-Collection Grade: this grade includes the small signal tubes, commonly used power output tubes and large high voltage power tubes (including 12AX7-T, 12AU7-T, 12AT7-T, EL84-T, 845/211/805A/805-T, plus 300B-T, KT88-T, 6CA7-T and CV181-T). Note duplicate models such as 300B-T, KT88-T, 6CA7-T and CV181-T in the T-Collection Grade is of better test results right out of the factory. This is similar to Treasure Premium grade is better than Treasure Standard Grade. Packaging: T-Collection Grade tubes are packed in purple presentation gift box as matched pair or quad. Price: the #1 most expensive Psvane brand tubes out of factory.
B: HiFi series: These tubes are in direct competition with generic Shuguang clear glass tubes. They are made with different (cheaper) materials compared to the T-series, in clear glass enclosure, with less strict testing criteria than the T-series. These tubes are developed for affordable average consumer market and tube amplifier manufacturers to be pre-packaged with tube amps for sale.
Packaging: HiFi series tubes are packed in dark blue paper box individually. It is easy to be identified from the T-Classic series although packaging the same – one tube is black bottle; the other is clear glass.
Price: the lowest priced Psvane tubes out of factory.
Pricing comparison of the T-Classic, T-Collection and HiFi series tubes:
Take 300B as example and let index 300B-T-Collection grade as 100 points, below is the approximate pricing difference:
- 300B-T-Collection black bottle: 100 points
- 300B-T-Classic black bottle: 80 points
- 300B HiFi clear glass: 40 points
There are difference in sound quality and build quality among the 3 tube grades. Other tube model pricing difference among the 3 grades may be slightly different from the above.
C: WE Replica Series: more information is to be released on this series. Right now only test runs in small quantity. We have yet to confirm the quality and sonic signature.
Besides vacuum tubes, Psvane Audio also contract other parties to make high end Teflon film Copper Foil high end capacitors to compete with V-Cap on the market. A series of tube amps are also available with flagship model being the SET Parallel T845 monoblocks and T417 pre-amplifier with separate power supply.
How the Psvane tubes sound, compared to the popular Treasure tubes?
In short, Psvane comparable models of tubes sound as good as, or even a touch better than the Treasure tubes in the top end extension. Below is the equivalent comparison between the two brands:
- Psvane T-Classic Grade = Treasure Factory Standard Grade
- Psvane T-Collection Grade = Treasure Factory Premium Grade
- Psvane HiFi Series = Shuguang Generic clear glass tubes
What is going to happen with Treasure tubes?
Going forward, likely Treasure tubes will be still made and sold by Shuguang to the market. There is no obvious reason for Shuguang to drop the line when they monopolize the sales right and capture 100% profit.
Grant Fidelity has been closely working with the Treasure R&D team (who now is Psvane Audio) since the Treasure Z-series was born in 2008. We have achieved great quality control of Grant Fidelity tube orders and gained solid reputation among our customers for providing consistent Grant Fidelity Grade A tubes (best of the best – selected from the Premium factory grade /Collection grade) with premium purchase price (no free lunch – Grant Fidelity pay extra price premium for our factory orders to encourage and entice factory to provide us the best of the best. We have $6000 worth of tube testing equipment with Psvane Audio team specifically for Grant Fidelity order processing).
Grant Fidelity will continue our successful path to support the Psvane Audio team for their original innovation in creating black bottle tubes. Going forward, the Treasure series will be phased out once our current Treasure tube stock is sold out and all models will be under Psvane brand.
Grant Fidelity choose not to continue with the Treasure series because we do not have the same commitment from quasi-government controlled Shuguang to control quality at the same level for us after the majority of the R&D development team has left. Many decisions at Shuguang are not made 100% for business reason – there is heavy political and bureaucratic influence to maximum profit during the management contract term rather than for customers’ best interest and long term branding. This may change over time if Shuguang is under severe competition pressure to change the way they do business – but it will take quite some time.
p.s. There is no English website from Psvane Audio yet. I will update as much as possible from Chinese publications. No official factory pictures released yet but I have visited both Psvane production facilities in Sept 2011, the craft shop in Chashang and Guiguang in southern China (which will be completely moved to Changsha in 2012) – great setup, in some cases even better than the 50 years old Shuguang tube factory. Mostly importantly, the people there have spirit to make great tubes for their passion, and of course for their investment return too.
Grant Fidelity will continue our efforts in streamlining distribution / shipping / logistics of tube orders and in the meantime, most importantly, continue our close monitoring and controling quality of top Grant Fidelity Grade A tubes for worldwide tube lovers.
Happy tube shopping and happy listening,
Rachel @ Grant Fidelity