To make the following description in a friendly frame we did it under an “interview” format done by a fellow audio blogger, James Grant, and Marc, Doge Marketing and product manager.
First, we’d like to show you where we are located and tell you we are a wholly-owned Chinese company, and that we are located in China mainland, in Hunan Province, in Changsha city, also known as the “Silicon Valley of vacuum tubes” as all Chinese tube factories are located there, Shuguang, Psvane, and Linlai. We have very good relations with all of them.
OMG CHINESE?? But Chinese products are not reliable and use fake components.
About fake components, I will say later a word about this.
Chinese products don’t always have a good reputation, in particular when it comes to reliability. But we don’t make any secret about our origin as we are proud that we got more than 20 great reviews in German Hifi magazines for products we designed and manufactured under the brand of a German OEM partner, LUA GmbH, specialized in speakers at that time, and with no experience in manufacturing amplifiers. LUA is now slowly ending his amplifier activity, and Mr LUA at 86, is retiring. His son refocus their activity on LUA speakers.
Surprisingly, not everybody is Chinese at Doge, look at the team photo at the bottom of this page.
So that’s the reason nobody heard about you before, you were just a subcontractor doing assembling?
Indeed, reading this section, it may be the first time you’ve heard about our brand whereas our company now exists for 17 years.
That’s because Doge brand stayed in the shadow of LUA; until recently we did not want to ‘emerge’, in order to stay faithful to LUA and not disturb their sales. However, after reaching the most significant part of our production five years ago, their orders went down to almost zero.
This said, please don’t mistaken everything. We were in OEM partnership, not subcontracting. We are amplifier designers, so our main added value is not assembling. We sell the technology we initially designed on our own products, to western customers like LUA without know how in amplifiers. Of course, our customers can require specific chassis or customizations. Customer, even in OEM relation, remains the king!
Also, in OEM relation, in opposition with subcontracting where you mainly offer labor, the intellectual property of LUA electronic designs belong to us, while LUA remains the owner of their external appearance design.
Could we sum-up you were lazy to do the sales, so you focused on assembling?
Hey, would you mind stopping to mention assembling and respect the term or designers! Nobody is lazy at Doge. But Mr Liu skills were in design and robust construction. He is not a businessman, and humility is also to recognize you should focus on what you are good at. So it was a win-win relation, Mr Liu focused on what are his talents, designing, and manufacturing while LUA did the sales job. That’s the reason, having now to promote Doge brand, he had the clever reflex to hire a European marketing manager. Nobody is good in everything.
So when this German client ordered from you he was “the king” and now that he stop to order from you, I feel you put on the table all these little secrets. Isn’t this a bit mean?
It is not that simple. If China export more and more every year, not all Chinese entrepreneur are foxy businessmen. Sometimes they follow faithfully their OEM customers and don’t realize they are in a dependent situation.
On the opposite side, the western OEM customers don’t realize that the Chinese entrepreneurs who manufacture their products have a manufacturing process organized mainly around their orders. They often don’t realize that if their business turns bad that they should inform, us, the OEM manufacturers, in advance to give us time to reorganize our business model.
The reason we are coming out of the waters with what you call “to put on the table little secrets” but what would rather call “transparency”, is because we faced a LUA orders collapse very sharp and very sudden, going from full workshop occupation to almost zero in just 3 years. So being obliged to reorganize our business so suddenly, we have to explain to our potential customers why we emerge just now.
So you just created your own brand after the fall of LUA orders?
Don’t make shortcuts! Our brand exists since 2003, but only 10% of our production was done under our own brand, the remaining was for LUA. So we had no time to promote it as we always put in priority LUA requests.
We always created our Doge products first, then LUA was able to evaluate them and customize them under their brand.
That’s the reason it is important to explain we are NOT a new brand, in particular because “new” could also mean inexperienced, but even unknown we are very experienced.
So what is new is not our brand, but the fact that our company has to do a rebirth under Doge brand only, the biggest, but most exciting challenge since our incorporation and we are now looking for reviews of our products under our own brand, which is very exciting as first feedbacks from reviewers are extremely positive.
But the most exciting in this rebirth challenge is to allow our future customers to own products that are worth AND also were sold in Germany 3 to 4 times our prices; and at the same time to supply these products with improved quality audiophile components, in counterpart of what we save on distribution costs compared to LUA business model; and what we save with less luxury chassis than LUA without expensive chrome finish, but instead, a still elegant anodized aluminum finish.
Finally, what you say is LUA products were not made in Germany, but in Doge factory??
LUA’s products were mistakenly reported by German journalists as “made in Germany”. But this inaccurate reporting by experienced journalists is somewhere funny because it is the clear evidence that our products meet the very demanding German standards and finally made us feel more proud than offended.
HEY, guys wake-up! Don’t you think if they said “made in Germany”, it’s not the journalists’ mistake, but just their willingness to make more money because the “made in Germany” has great value.
That’s your statement, not ours. We do believe that as LUA was a “made in Germany” speakers company, so the German journalists took for granted that their amplifiers were also made in Germany.
Hey guys, wake-up! If not pretended on purpose “made in Germany”, why didn’t they asked you to write “assembled in China” at the back of their products like Apple does.
If Mr. Helmut LUA would have done this on purpose he would have been dishonest with both his customers and dealers as only tubes were plugged in Germany. We refuse to believe this and we still think the German press misunderstood the manufacturing origin of LUA products. Maybe the only fault of Mr. Lua was not to inform the journalists that they were wrong in writing this.
Guys, you remain quite naive…
Maybe… It’s like that. We had a very good relationship with LUA and being very demanding, they helped us to do the best of ourselves and manufacture Doge products with German standards.
But finally aren’t you simply using LUA to endorse you?
In a sense yes, but what’s wrong doing so? Mr Lua has 86 and is no retired except doing a few calls to fellow long time customers. We provided LUA some efficient electronics designs, that we didn’t have the opportunity to make known under our brand because all workshop capacity and our energy was occupied for LUA. We’re just a victim of LUA unpredictable collapse whereas on our side we stayed faithful for 15 years, so that’s quite logical that in a first step, to come out of the water, we refer to our products designed under LUA brand as they were already reviewed in Germany. It is also interesting for the potential buyers to know that our products were reviewed at 3/4 times our price and got very good price ratings with this 3/4 times price.
But today if we are explaining transparently our situation, it is because we don’t want anymore to be known as a reliable manufacturer, but as DOGE, an innovative brand, as all the electronics of all our products that were shipped from our factory, were solely designed by us (though a few customization instructions from LUA), and all our innovations were released on Doge brand first. As an example, our advanced autobias was released under the Doge brand in 2011 and under the LUA brand in 2012 only.
You mentioned you would say a word about your fake components…
Yes, I said that, but I never said that we use fake components, please!! There are zero fake components in Doge products and we have many pieces of evidence of that. What the cooperation with LUA helped us to do, is to secure our sourcing. Yes, some Chinese factories use fake components, sometimes in good faith, sometimes not, unfortunately.
To pass the severe DIN Standards in Germany, LUA required us proof of components origin. So we have to create a sourcing process by asking all the components’ manufacturers to provide us the list of their authorized wholesalers in China, and since that time we do this for all our components. Sometimes we even source directly to the manufacturer, like with the UK coupling capacitors Claritycaps.
One sentence would sum-up Doge’s business philosophy: « Quality first, quality always ».
We are proud to be one of the most reliable Hifi manufacturer from China
Doge was founded by a very experienced person in the Hi-Fi industry, Mr. Zey LIU ex-Jolida’s chief engineer, and ex-Shuguang engineer and ex-engineer for the Hunan broadcasting equipment factory, as the designer of high power amplifiers, tuners, and TVs. He also designed a few amplifiers for the Taiwan brand L.A. Audio.
Although DOGE was created in 2002, Mr. Liu has more than 25 years of experience in High-End audio design. Indeed, Doge Hi-Fi history starts in reality in 1994 as it has some close connections with the US Maryland corporation JOLIDA Inc.
THE “JOLIDA YEARS”
In 1994 Jolida Inc., which had a long-term business relationship with Shuguang tube factory for distributing their military radio tubes in the U.S., wanted to develop new markets. in 1995 they created a joint venture in Shanghai under the name of Shenda-Jolida Ltd. And Mr. Liu a reputed Shuguang engineer was hired as chief engineer to create a full range of tube amplifiers for Jolida.
Regarding their sound performance; the first tube amplifier designs of Mr. Liu were very well received. The integrated JD302 won an award at the 1996 Las Vegas CES. From 1996 to 2002, there were some ‘golden years’ during which Mr. LIU designed a lot of ‘hot’ sales products for Jolida among which were Jolida’s JD202, JD302, JD502, JD801, JD1501 the CD player JD100A, and the power blocks ’Music Envoy’…
In 2002 Mr. LIU was working at the Shanghai Shenda-Jolida factory, 2000km from his Changsha home city where both his wife and kids lived. For this reason, he decided to resign and go back to Changsha city to create his own company keeping working remotely for one year on completing Jolida’s pending projects while setting up the Doge Factory.
DOGE is a much a smaller factory than Shenda-Jolida. It was not an ambitious project created solely for the purpose of making a great deal of money, but a family-sized business with direct control over the management of all the steps, design, manufacturing, QC, and shipment.
Mr. Liu wanted to design products of higher performance and higher quality standards than Jolida’s who put a lot of pressure on prices during the time he worked for them. The choice to produce only a limited range of products, contrary to many Chinese brands, allows Doge to have better quality control and to make Doge one of the most reliable Chinese brands.
THE INNOVATION UNDER DOGE BRAND
When he became his own boss, Mr. Liu didn’t just want to make the same circuits he designed for Jolida with a different chassis. He really wanted to go further with research and innovation. In 2005 a much-improved version of the CD player JD100A was released under the name Doge 6, and sold a year later in Germany under the LUA brand. This tube CD player LUA Appassionata got many awards in “STEREO” the famous German magazine. This was an incredible CD player with 6 tubes for the analog stage and a balanced tube differential stage (the first tube CD player in the world to do this). It is now discontinued but we used its exclusive technology to create our recent DAC, the Doge 7.
In 2011, after having reached a high ‘western standard’ quality of equipment manufacture, and we thank LUA to have pushed us to reach German standards, Mr. Liu decided to go one step further on innovation, with the development of a new range of products more user-friendly experience and going on step further than the products we designed for LUA with a “more audiophile” range of components, in particular, the coupling capacitors as LUA wanted to stick to the industrial Wima brand.
We created our patented “PAB autobias” (Precision Auto-Bias). This is a computer-managed bias control, unlike any others on the market. In 2014 we released an improved version called PADC (Precision Autobias with Dual Class mode). The new feature is capable of offering at the same time Class A and Class AB on the same amplifier by computer management of both voltages and anode currents depending on the selected class. To show our difference we decided not to offer the PADC technology under OEM partnership, that’s the reason this unique technology can be found only on Doge products. All our amplifiers now include PADC technology.
Doge is still a family size company. We have a factory of 400m2 (4,100 sq ft) and a team of 7 staff including the management. Our production is now focused only on DOGE brand and our OEM activity is almost stopped. Since a few years, the sales and new products’ development is under the supervision of Marc, our french product manager. Mr. Liu of course keeps the core electronics design development.
We consider ourselves as a ‘handcraft’ factory. Our first priority is the quality of our products, not the speed of making them. The labor is cheaper in China than in Western countries, but we don’t use this difference in cost to make a higher profit margin. Instead, we let our workers do their job quietly, without productivity pressure, and in this way, we ensure that our products have one of the best QC among the Chinese Hi-Fi factories, even we know doing this way will never make us rich, and we assume it !!! We are audiophiles first and not very good businessmen 😳
To promote our own brand, as the rebirth challenge arrived at a time traditional Hifi was slowing down and brick & mortar shops are slowly closing down, we thought the best way was to promote our products through direct sales, but in a different way you can find on AliExpress, and similar websites handling hundred of products and being more logistic agent rather the retailers. Our difference is we do FACTORY direct sales.
We provide truly customized support, from the choice of the product that suits your needs, until its delivery. We give you a lifetime unlimited support for any information about the product you bought and a warranty service served in your country.
Although we are a very small factory compared to other Chinese actors in the tube industry, we pride ourselves that we are known in at least 40 countries: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong-Kong*, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mongolia, Malaysia, Netherlands, New-Zealand, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South-Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan*, Thailand, UAE, UK, USA. (*autonomous provinces of PRC)
We did this without any advertising. All our sales are done by word-of-mouth through internet forums and blogs. Our best advertising is the quality and performance of our products. We want to warmly thank Arthur Salvatore an independent reviewer who helped to promote Doge 8 when he wrote in 2010 on his blog high-endaudio.com that “Doge 8 may be the best value preamplifier in the history of audio”.
DOGE is legally registered with the China Trade Office under license n° 43010242022051 and the name CHANGSHA DOGE ELECTRONICS CORPORATION, CO., LTD. It has a fully valid export license as well under n° 430193000007152.
Please always ask for these license numbers if you trade with a Chinese company. A few of our competitors are simply not registered and most of those that are registered don’t have an export license. Making and selling good products direct to the customer is a serious process and should also include doing this business officially!