My loaners from Germany's importer Sieveking Sound landed four months after August 2017's Hong Kong show had teased Shangri-La Junior with its very own dedicated valve amp. Displayed under glass, sonics at the event had remained a well-guarded secret. The combo's $8'000 tag had not. Suddenly Shangri-La (had that suddenly been displaced to Senior aka old-man status?) looked long in the tooth. Dentist time?

To drill into this unexpectedly quick follow-on of a second HifiMan electrostat; and down on more about Senior's 300B amp which materially should represent ~80% of its tariff to be the primary decider; I contacted Fang again. Keeping up with these HifiMänner wasn't easy. But I enjoy cross-cultural opportunities. It's one expression of the global village notion. It's also a bit of virtual traveling without visas and layovers. That certain things can get lost in translation is to be expected; especially when it's not so much time zones and language barriers as it is different economic climates, new versus old money and a far more recent very vibrant hifi scene rather than the very mature tired saturated markets which represent so much of the hifi West. By comparison, China is still in its adolescence: adventurous, unafraid, occasionally brash but often exciting. Still, the pricing offset between the two electrostatic models seemed to send mixed messages regardless of language or culture.

"Our 300B circuit is push/pull balanced with a 45-second turn-on delay. Should one power triode fail, there won't be any noise. Only the output in that channel will be weaker. The choice of direct-heated triodes in general and the Full Music variant in particular was predicated upon superior sound. Just so, other 300B can be rolled. Bandwidth is 20kHz-50kHz ±1dB or 7kHz-120kHz ±10dB. S/N ratio is better than 95dB A-weighted, channel separation better than 80dB. THD is 0.1%/200V. Volume control is by relay-switched resistor matrix." That was the extent of what I learnt. Anyone looking for mentions of exotic coupling caps, power transformer specifics, gold-plated circuit boards, nude Vishay resistors, negative feedback, bias points and such will have to open up a Shangri-La amp and measure it. When the originally promised London CanJam loaner hadn't materialized by late September, I checked in with Fang. He apologized for having sold out their entire first production run. I'd have to wait until the second run would ship. Sold out? That should surprise those who despise the mere existence of luxury-priced goods just because they would never allocate such funds to such frivolities.

My loaners arrived in two large hard plastic cases with a central metallic HifiMan plaque. One was for the tubes and headphone box, the truly enormous one for the amp. The hard foam that cradled the amp's top alone probably measured 15cm thick. This by way of painting the overkill picture of shipping protection. The unbranded tubes felt exceptionally robust and luxurious, with thick glass envelopes and very stout black metal bases. Each type was nicely numbered 1-4 with a metallized sticker. Those stickers were strategically placed to face away from the listener once the valves inserted. XLR and RCA inputs selectable by toggle, a glass-covered bias adjustment window and a power IEC made up the rear. A big inset power switch lit red during power stabilization and white for steady power. Two 5-prong outputs added themselves beneath that massive overhang of the finger print magnet of a glassy top deck. Its big volume knob turned out to be back-lit white with '- volume +' and individual sun-dial dots for the relay-clicking attenuator positions. The slightly symbolic tube cage which is really too small to protect the 300B plugged in with mini bananas. It could easily be left off if one preferred the nude look. If you've seen the HE-1000 or Susvara, you've seen the basic Shangri-La headset. It revisits the very same architecture. It's decidedly déjà vu but also super comfy and light despite being of large proportions. Why fix what ain't broke?