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General reliability of big Chinese brands?

PH14

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We're spoiled for choice for superb performing Chinese hifi gear right now. Amir is pushing out gushing reviews after another for Topping, SMSL, Sabaj, Loxjie etc.

The problem I have is that after a while we see issues with reliability popping up in the forums. And the main issue with these Chinese brands is that there's no local service point here, meaning I'd have to ship back to China. Which is not an option because of the high costs. This also means that warranty is an issue. The EU has just extended the warranty period (soon to be implemented) but for Chinese gear that seems of no meaning, since dealers will just point you to the manufacturer in China. If they respect the warranty, you're still stuck with very high shipping costs and import issues for the returned repaired/replaced equipment.

I'd like to hear your opinions on this matter. Has this situation improved over the past year or two? What brand has shown to be the most reliable sofar? If reliability is very important, would you rather select a more local brand over a Chinese brand? Any Chinese brands finally setting up EU offices? Please discuss!
 

delta76

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It is really hard to say because more popular = more likely to have problems. What we see is just people complaining, not the complete picture. Only the manufacturers have the actual failure rate but for obvious reason they will not share those.
I am now less and less likely to buy those equipment for exact reasons you mentioned. Better to buy from reputable, established brands that have actual after sale service network. For a peace of mind yes, but also for other things like environment awareness etc.
 

Doodski

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I recently purchased a DAC and a headphone amp from the USA. The product was shipped and in Fedex hands within 3 hours and I had it in hand within 3 working days to Canada. Duty was non-existent and local taxes where charged by Fedex.
 
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PH14

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I can't really see what that has to do with my question, did you get the wrong thread? EU here btw, as mentioned in the original post.
 

mhardy6647

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It is really hard to say because more popular = more likely to have problems.
This should not be the case on a per unit sold (i.e., percentage) basis.
The absolute number of problematic units "in the field" might be expected to rise with sales numbers, but not the percentage of lemons.
 

Koeitje

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In the EU it doesn't really matter if they have EU offices or not, the seller is responsible for handling the 2 year warranty. So just buy from a EU seller and not directly from China. The experience I've had in terms of build quality for cheaper DACs is that Topping and SMSL do a lot better than the American brand Schiit. But maybe Schiit has upped their game over the past 3 years? Also, from what I saw during the 2000's when I worked retail is that NAD amplifiers and especially Harman Kardon receivers tended to break down a lot. So I put little value on where the product is made, every part of the world has good and bad manufacturers. I guess you are also avoiding MiniDSP products?
 
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delta76

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In EU it doesn't really matter if they have EU offices or not, the seller is responsible for handling the 2 year warranty. So just buy from a EU seller and not directly from China. The experience I've had in terms of build quality for cheaper DACs is that Topping and SMSL do a lot better than the American brand Schiit. But maybe Schiit has upped their game over the past 3 years?
Take amazon for example, even if shipper is amazon themselves the seller is very likely a Chinese one. Shipping will be fast but once you get problems outside of 30 days return window, you will have to deal with the seller yourself. (You still have amazon cs as the last resort but it is no way a problem free process)

For your second point, not every western brand is well made or reputable. And the problem here is not only about reliability, but it is also after sale service. Yes it is bad if your equipment has 5% failure rate, but it is not too bad if you can get it fixed quickly, free of charge by the manufacturer. Things will get a lot worse if the warranty process takes a long time and possibly cost you money
 

Chazz6

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I bought a Xiangsheng 728A preamplifier. It had a bad ground hum and sloppy assembly upon arrival. Details of how I slogged through their maintenance process are at
 

Trell

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Take amazon for example, even if shipper is amazon themselves the seller is very likely a Chinese one. Shipping will be fast but once you get problems outside of 30 days return window, you will have to deal with the seller yourself. (You still have amazon cs as the last resort but it is no way a problem free process)

If you buy from Amazon EU and the seller is Amazon itself, then you’ll deal with Amazon. I’ve had two warranties of electronics about a year old, and both was handled promptly. No hassle at all, and no expenses.
 

sarumbear

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If you buy from Amazon EU and the seller is Amazon itself, then you’ll deal with Amazon. I’ve had two warranties of electronics about a year old, and both was handled promptly. No hassle at all, and no expenses.
The crucial difference here is the difference between seller and shipper. Fulfilled by Amazon doesn’t mean it is sold by Amazon either. Your warranty is legally two years only when the seller is an EU or UK Amazon site.
 

Trell

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The crucial difference here is the difference between seller and shipper. Fulfilled by Amazon doesn’t mean it is sold by Amazon either. Your warranty is legally two years only when the seller is an EU or UK Amazon site.
Exactly, and that’s why I look at who is the seller on Amazon
 

dtaylo1066

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My suggestion on the less expensive, Chinese branded and produced audio products: one's mindset going into buying said product should be that if it fails you will need to replace it at your cost. Lack of warranty, repair or local distributor is one reason the cost is kept low. If that prospect is not acceptable to you, then I would advise buying a traditional branded product.
 
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PH14

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My suggestion on the less expensive, Chinese branded and produced audio products: one's mindset going into buying said product should be that if it fails you will need to replace it at your cost. Lack of warranty, repair or local distributor is one reason the cost is kept low. If that prospect is not acceptable to you, then I would advise buying a traditional branded product.
When we're talking about a cheap amp of say 100 EUR, fine. But how about the Topping power amp, LA80 iirc, it costs almost a 1000 EUR. I'm sorry, but Chinese hifi is no longer the bottom price stuff you suggest it is. A decent DAC preamp like the Sabaj A20d costs almost 500 EUR. That's not something I buy thinking it's for the bin when it fails within just a few years!
 

Koeitje

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Wait now, what?How about the reliability on them?

Typical that there should always be something.:oops:
They are from Hong Kong, they clearly can't make products of the same quality as Western countries! /s

Take amazon for example, even if shipper is amazon themselves the seller is very likely a Chinese one. Shipping will be fast but once you get problems outside of 30 days return window, you will have to deal with the seller yourself. (You still have amazon cs as the last resort but it is no way a problem free process)

For your second point, not every western brand is well made or reputable. And the problem here is not only about reliability, but it is also after sale service. Yes it is bad if your equipment has 5% failure rate, but it is not too bad if you can get it fixed quickly, free of charge by the manufacturer. Things will get a lot worse if the warranty process takes a long time and possibly cost you money

Just look at who the seller is, that information is shown on the Amazon website. If its Amazon they will have to follow EU regulations, and if they don't they will get fined (at a percentage of their revenue).

Also a 5% failure rate in the first 2 years is not extremely bad or anything, a lot of electronics and reputable brands do worse than that.
 

Music1969

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I'm quite happy with my SMSL SP400 - a lot of the amp and PSU design is THX design.

I'm been really keen on Topping but some stories of amplifiers blasting headphones and/or ears has me nervous about Topping.

Maybe their newer products have tackled these old issues.

Time will tell in user reports

Hyundai used to be considered lemons in terms of quality/reliability, but now decent in quality !
 

MCH

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I think if you offer a lower price even at the cost of your rights as a consumer, many people is going to take it.
Check for instance tha case of minidsp flex. People was buying directly from minidsp even though it was final sale, warranty reduced to one year and on you the cost of shipping to Asia. To the point that if you asked the price in this forum people would tell you the price from minidsp direct as this was THE way to get it. All this being a brand new model at 600-700 euros and knowing that audiophonics said they would lower their price when they start getting supplier discounts (that eventually happened a few months later).
Another case with, unfortunately, not happy end was that of the topping amp, even with people from topping recommending to buy from authorised local suppliers. Not blaming the buyers here, just telling that many people prefer to take the risk knowingly to save a few euros.

Your warranty is legally two years only when the seller is an EU or UK Amazon site.
Are you sure about this? It might depend on what amazon you are using. I use both amazon.de, where i cannot find info about warranty for marketplace products, and amazon.es, where it is clearly stated that the marketplace products have a warranty of 3 years provided by the seller.
Amazon International store might be different though.
 

sarumbear

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Are you sure about this? It might depend on what amazon you are using. I use both amazon.de, where i cannot find info about warranty for marketplace products, and amazon.es, where it is clearly stated that the marketplace products have a warranty of 3 years provided by the seller.
Amazon International store might be different though.
Re-read the bold text you wrote. Provided by the seller means the warranty is not offered by Amazon. Legally it is the seller's responsibility how the warranty is handled.

EU & UK law says the warranty is the seller's responsibility. Amazon is a shipper.
 

MCH

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Your post says:
. Your warranty is legally two years only when the seller is an EU or UK Amazon site.
That is not correct at least in Amazon.es.
Whatever other meaning you want to give it, I don't know but does not make the sentence above correct.
 
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