So what distinguishes Linlai from Psvane and Shuguang? Shuguang were the leading Chinese supplier in the entry-level segment serving both the hifi and guitar amp segments wholesale. The factory then shut down in 2019 with the sale of its freehold land to a real estate developer. They're expected to reopen in a new location this year. Psvane also were active in the upscale tube market then expanded into small signal tubes to fill demand from the wholesale guitar amp market temporarily abandoned by Shuguang. This diversification could make Psvane less dependent on the high-end tube market where Linlai aim to acquire significant market share. To this end they have already introduced their Elite E-series with moly plates for the ultra high end and the DG series with overhung filaments for the affordable still high-performance segment. Then there's the Western Electric Replica series. These models are said to be visually and electrically identical to Psvane's earlier WE range. Indeed, Linlai hold their design rights since the original designer joined their company. It is thus currently unclear how Psvane will deal with their own WE replica series.

Rachel Zhang sent me different Linlai Elite specimens to test in my 845 Turbos: a pair of E-845, a pair of E-300B and a collection of 101D for my Statement preamp. The Elite E-845 features an ultra-purity molybdenum plate specified to deliver 25 watts with 100-watt dissipation without red plating in a 1'000V+ live circuit so far superior to a graphite plate's stability under extreme temperatures. This 'moly plate' is in fact a metal-free compound of molybdenum disulfide and graphite with a synthetic non-melting carrier. With its very low coefficient of friction, the moly disulfide is said to be an excellent choice for high loads and parts under extreme pressure and temperatures up to 2'600°F/1'426°C where it doesn't form any carbon abrasives.

The Elite E-845 has no solder points in its plate to increase reliability but instead 16 nuts and screws. Self noise is given as a low 0.01mV. The Elite E-300B's ultra-purity permalloy carbon-coated plate is designed to compete against any and all 300B variants with a longer life expectancy. There is no contact between filament and glass to avoid mechanical resonance. I tested two different 101D tubes: the Elite 101D-L solid and mesh plate. Either plate is titanium alloy with a gold grid for increased stability. As with the Elite E-300B, there is no contact between filament structure and glass enclosure. Two metal poles support the filament. The enclosure shape differs slightly from my previous Psvane bulbs. Linlai's dome shape is closer to a 300B but smaller to fit in all current machines using the standard-shaped 101D. The ceramic base is covered by a metal sleeve.

Starting with the Linlai 101D, I compared them to my Psvane WE replicas which don't exactly match the original Western Electric design because they feature longer pins like a 300B to work in a standard 300B type socket. They do however match Western Electric's open-plate design which makes production more sensitive. So far my Psvane WE101D had bested the TJ Full Music and Psvane Classic/Hifi range versions. Now the LinLai produced more noise than any of them. The first pair from Rachel in fact was making a shrill noise which prevented its use. I informed Rachel who duly sent me three more in case one would misbehave; and three solid-plate versions. The second mesh sample was completely silent. Here I must roll out the usual small print that my impressions and assessments are based on my own equipment. It's impossible to provide a universal opinion about tubes which could respond differently in different circuits and systems relative to self noise.