Then we have this Steve Guttenberg video to profile entrepreneurial Rachel. It's why I called the prior page Rachel's pavane. This is altogether her dance. "We carry both Psvane and Linlai to give audiophile customers more variety. It's a sensible business decision to diversify especially when nowadays international supply-chain reliability is as important as are all the other usual factors to navigate 'global trade' successfully. For us the Acme range of Psvane tubes is very popular while we're just starting out with Linlai." Unsaid but implied is that in the West, buying upscale Chinese glass from Rachel sidesteps potential hassles when using sites like AliExpress. To be complete, there also are sundry rebrands like Psvane-sourced Audio Note UK tubes which that company sells and supports; like Sophia Electric branded bottles sold/warrantied in the US. If you buy big, it's easy enough to get your brand screened on a tube order. Rachel does it different. For example, her Treasure Globe 6SN7 SE isn't rebranded at all. "We simply organized its production to bring to market a clear-glass globe-shaped 6SN7 like the original Western Electric 101D which is in high demand. To ensure this Special Edition to be of the best possible quality, we discard over 50% of finished production to not compromise on final quality. After the initial screening, passed tubes are further screened for low noise, section balancing and optimal plate current. Our screening efforts have resulted in a very limited edition with two available grades available: A (low noise) and B (driver stage) for different applications."

What other tubes will Linlai produce? "It is said that by late 2020, they will start to produce popular tetrodes/pentodes like the EL34/6CA7 and KT88/6550. Bigger variants like KT120 and KT150 will only be considered once the KT88 is perfected." About recent history of Chinese tube production, "over the last decade, many similar models were pumped out by Shuguang and Psvane under different names and ranges. Now comes the third high-end tube factory. Psvane derived from Shuguang, Linlai from Psvane. As such it is no surprise to see some similarities between their output. From impressions we got from Psvane, they're shifting focus on their ultra Acme series whose types overlap with their WE series. It appears that Psvane don't want to compete directly with Linlai who make better WE replicas. Once Psvane sell out current WE stock, they may no longer produce this range. Linlai's Elite series is their proprietary flagship range and positioned to compete with Psvane's Acme Supreme models at somewhat lower pricing; and against EU brands in the ultra high end."

"Linlai also spent significant effort to overcome technical difficulties of producing overhung filaments for their DG models. Among tube manufacturers and audiophiles, there seems to be consensus. By design, metal plates sound more dynamic and transparent than graphite plates; and with the same plate materials, an overhung filament more delicate and refined than other filaments. An overhung filament is extremely difficult to manufacture. Tiny discrepancies in spacing, fixture and material characteristics under extreme temperatures can lead to higher production failure. Now a tube factory faces much higher reject rates so many stay deliberately away from this type filament. Finally, Linlai also produce their entry-level TA, T and Z ranges which are very similar to Shuguang. At Grant Fidelity, we focus on their higher-end models."

Cruising or bruising? Traditionally, direct-heated power triodes drive loudspeakers through output transformers for impedance matching. With nonlinear speaker Ω, associated phase angles, back electromotive force and absorptive parts between amplifier and load—that would be a passive crossover—this job can be a bruiser particularly when woofers want more current than their exotic triodes will swing. Luckily there's an alternate career for direct-heated power triodes. Go on vacation in a preamp. Now they merely drive the stable high input Ω of the following amplifier. Max current and reactivity aren't an issue. DHT preamplifiers are rare but Allnic, Coincident, Consonance, Manley, Melody, Thomas Meyer, Transcendent Sound, Trafomatic and Vinnie Rossi make them. Now power triodes go on cruise control; a bit like filtering out low bass from a monitor to de-stress its smaller mid/woofer and have a subwoofer do the grunt work. A DHT preamp is ideal to exploit such triodes' specific allure. It uncorks their full fragrance liberated from yeoman work. Hello Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature for me, Coincident's Statement MkII for Joël. Reporting on cruise control obviously won't tell you how such tubes behave in bruise mode's actual speaker lifting. That's where Joël's power amp comes in. It drives its 845 outputs with 300B like the Cary mono below. His findings will publish in a separate review.

In our Vinnie Rossi which direct-couples its DHT pair without output transformers or capacitors in a so-called grounded-grid circuit, my favorite €1'240/pr bottle is the 7.5V Elrog ER50 with thoriated tungsten filament. It runs like a dream on the preamp's V5 heater setting. To map Linlai's E-300B by direct comparison, I had 300B from Electro-Harmonix, Elrog's non-molybdenum plate and year 2006 Western Electric. Rachel's 2A3/101D samples would compare to them, not their own types. Those I don't own. Is there a proviso for using DHT in a preamp? Absolutely. Hello microphonics. It requires both first-rate circuit design and quiet tubes to achieve absolutely noise-free performance. After all, the definition of a direct-heated triode is that its heater and filament are one and the same. It's likely why so few DHT preamps exist. Banishing noise is a real challenge. Now the stage is set, the curtain about to rise.