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Nanjing Tube Factory information

 
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rachel



Joined: 27 Dec 2007
Posts: 9
Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:59 pm    Post subject: Nanjing Tube Factory information Reply with quote

Someone on a different forum has asked about the Chinese Nanjing tube - I have dug out some information from Chinese website for the non-Chinese speaking world to share:

Where is Nanjing? - that's the name of the city that Nanjing Tube Factory is located. The city used to be capital of 6 acient Chinese dynasties and the famous Yangze River flows through it. If you ever visit Nanjing, you will be amazed by the historical buildings (I say historical here means 2400 years starting from 421 BC, not AD). Nanjing is located in such a strategic location within China - not only been chosen by Chinese kings as capital, but also been target for civil wars for hundreds of years. During world war II, over 300,000 civilians were murdered in this city by Japanese in a period of less than 30 days.




Some background on the Chinese tube industry:

It all started back in 1935 by a gentleman named "Zongsu Shan" who unfortunately passed away in 1991. Shan was born in 1910 in Jiangsu Province (where Shanghai is located in) of southeastern China. He studied in Shanghai and graduated as the top student from Shanghai Communications University majored in electronics in 1935. Same year he was recommended to the Electronics Research Lab of the Ministry of Resources. He was determined then to develop China's very own vacuum tubes. With the help of two research assistance, in one year he successfully developed China's very first type-30 vacuum tube.

In 1937, the war between China and Japan broke out so the research lab had to be moved further down to southern China (the Japan-China war started off close to Beijing - northern China). In the next few years, the research lab was bombed serveral times in various locations but was finally commpletely rebuilt in 1941. Same year Shan took on the assignment by the Ministry of Telecommunications to develop 3CA3 tube for long distance telephone application and the mission was successful. Later in 1941, Shan was sent to the US by then Chinese government to further his research work at RCA. When he arrived in the US, the first news he heard is that Japanese has bombed the Pearl Harbour and the threat of war across China is heavier than ever. He was more determined to learn the most advanced technolgoy about vacuum tube technology so that he ccould help save his motherland from being completely destroied by war.

After doing research for one year at RCA, he was further sent to work as an engineer at ITT. During that time, his new product development was even patented in the US and he was referred as a Chinese icon for then researchers and scientists. In 1945, Shan turned down the offer from the US company he worked for and decided to start organizing and establish China's first vacuum tube factory - Nanjing Tube Factory. In 1948, he returned to China, just before the Red China started (1949) became the Chief Engineer and General Manager of Nanjing Tube Factory (also known as No. 772 plant - similar to Shuguang, which is coded as 770). He worked for Nanjing Tube Factory until 1987 - for nearly 40 years and only retired when his health didn't allow him continue working any more. He passed away in 4 years after.

In 1949, Shan developed China's own 866A tube which is widely used for civil and military radio stations. Don't forget that since Red China started in 1949, US and other western countries had completely cut off any supplies to China until after 1978. It was a major achievement for China at that time to have its own 866A tubes to support its own radio industry. In the following 40 years, Nanjing Tube Factory has been a birth place for many Chinese tube experts and became a major player in the Chinese electronics industry.

With China's opening up to western world in late 1980s, Nanjing Tube Factory, as an outdated establishment, was slowly pushed to secondary position in the industry, partly because of the industry moving towards solid state and the factory's inefficient management. In 1987, Nanjing Tube Factory was re-organized by central government and renamed to Nanjing Sanle Group. Sanle - in English it means "triple happiness" - I don't know why they chose such a name then, however, the pronouncation of the name in Chinese also means "dismissed". Chinese audiophiles sadly and jokingly comment that the fall-down of the once glorious Nanjing Tube Factory was all because of the unlucky name they have choosen. So if you ever do business in China, make sure you get a lucky business name Smile

After the re-organization, most of Nanjing Tube Factory's vacuum tube production line was sold to Shuguang. The new Sanle Group ventured into production of industrial use electron tubes, home appliances such as washer / microwave, industrial ceramics parts etc.. Although I didn't confirm with my own eyes, from the web posting by Chinese audiophiles, I do not think the new Sanle Group manufacture tubes anymore at all. Their official website didn't list any audio related vacuum tube products at all.

Today there are still some old 50s-60s-70s Nanjing tubes available in China and probably all over the world as well. Quality of Nanjing tubes from those years are the best, and Nanjing is better known for larger tubes, not the small 12AX7s type. As far as I know, TJ Fullmusic makes the best 300B in China, Shuguang makes the best KT88, not sure who got the best EL34 - my digging has to continue until I find out Smile

Hope this is fun for people to read and know a bit about history of Hi-Fi in China, a part of world that can hardly be ignored anymore.

Happy Listening.
Rachel

p.s. I received some feedback from readers saying that I should put in the western spelling of the city names so that people can understand better. The city name I use here is the "official" spelling from the Chinese pronounciation and likely they are the ones actully printed on the products. Considering I am an authentic Chinese only westernized in the past 7 years, some of the westernized spelling I am probably not even aware of Smile Anyway, to help you to self-translate those spellings - anything ended with "-jing" could also be spelled as "-king". So Bejing = Peking; Nanjing = Nanking; Guangdong = Canton. Tianjin = TJ (for the Chinese Fullmusic tubes). I will write a post about TJ Fullmusic soon.
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zoothorn



Joined: 08 Oct 2008
Posts: 2
Location: Atlanta

PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great read. I would be interested in finding out who makes the best el-34 in production today. I currently am using some new production "winged c" tubes , I believe they are manufactured in some part of thr USSR (or former),IIRC, Smile
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igrant
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Joined: 04 Jun 2007
Posts: 500

PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zoothorn wrote:
great read. I would be interested in finding out who makes the best el-34 in production today. I currently am using some new production "winged c" tubes , I believe they are manufactured in some part of thr USSR (or former),IIRC, Smile


'the best' would be what worked the best for you in your situation. It is such a taste thing plus system dependant. We use both Shuguang and EH for our amps and my tastes lean towards the Shuguangs for just being more tasty.

It would be great if those using our gear or any newer EL-34 amp would tell us what EL-34's they like and why.

Ian
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