I, as a buyer and end user have to wonder if there is a way identify these issues in a public way
Watch early discussions of a device.
Reviews may not run into problems, or they may report them to the manufacturer and be told "sure we will fix it" and not mention it assuming by the time paying customers get the device the problems are fixed. I think reviewers should mention problems in their reviews and report the company's response, so things are out in the open. It becomes more difficult later to do so if it turns out that Bug the reviewer found remained in shipping version of the product.
This is not a problem only for iFi.
We have seen products made in china and engineered in china shipped by many major brands with major or fatal flaws in design or firmware. And they are not always fixed. Or fixed in ways that are not good.
I had a major brand Phone where the Camera overhated rapidly at the highest quality, even in photo mode, causing the camera to shut off. The fix was to reduce the default settings to a safe level and display a warning textbox if you tried to raise the quality to that advertised.
Just recently my WIIM mini bricked after a firmware upgrade and a power cycle after it first worked a whole day after the firmware upgrade. Both were basically "Chinese" products, made in china, design in china, firmware in china.
I would suggest that the real solution is to reshore design and production into countries with a suitable workforce, like Germany, USA, UK, France, Italy etc., but that will likely double to quadruple prices.
and force the company to correct the firmware for all.
Companies that are for the core company registered in a tax haven that has minimal consumer protection legislation in country and non for foreign customers can only be pressured by widespread public customer complaints, that if not addressed will damage their business standing in the market and thus negatively impact their sales.
I have sat in board discussion where the potential damage to sales of not fixing problem as priority, not doing a product recall and even completely ignoring problems was estimated and the "business people" generally went with "not enough damage, don't spend time fixing, keep shipping, focus on new products".
I wonder what AMR has to say about this, or are they just licensing the technology and ifi is an independent entity.
Nothing, AMR & iFi are now both parts of same the holding company located in china (HK). All the connections and corporate entities, all the way to mainland china are traceable.
On a similar note, I have the habit of leaving my electronics constantly on (except tube-amps). After about 11 months the Neo display received a permanent burn-in from being constantly on.
Yes, I have been fighting against OLED screens a long time and was overrules.
I regretted sending that unit back for a replacement as when I received the replacement (newer unit) I initially thought it didn’t sound as good as before. I discarded that idea as ridiculous but with the differences in firmware I am now wondering if that has actually been the case.
I suspect it may have been case.
As iFi is a relatively small manufacturer they cannot always get parts through the official channels. I am ware of fake capacitors, wrong capacitor values and even fake Op-Amp's having made it into production. I was under the impression that these were corrected before shipment. But in at least one case I got a unit at a show that sounded different to my own sample, which I eventually traced down to a manufacturing part change that should not have been made.
Again, this sort of thing happens a lot in china. To a chinese "engineer" if the same thing is written on the packaging it is the same. Fakes abound. And make it past QA/QC. And not just with iFi. In fact, iFi probably still has better save guards in place than most, though not as good as I would have liked.
I had instituted a process of validating all suspect parts on incoming inspection, this was eventually axed as too expensive and the principle "this is a trustworthy supplier" we accept the parts without checks and assume they are good and we only deal with such suppliers. Afterwards when fake parts turned up anyway, they did not force any change in approach to QA.
I now use the “display off” setting to avoid burn-in. I wonder if that also takes care of the interference issues from the display mentioned elsewhere
OLED and similar displays use "Multiplexing", which causes interference that is hard to control and eliminate, as we deal with high currents being switched in the most audible range of human hearing.
Turning an OLED or similar display off completely often significantly lowers interference. I always recommend "Display off" and have insisted that unless displays use "on/off" LED's only they must have an off-position.
although I never had an issue with noise, hum or interference of any sort, at audible levels, with the standard power supply.
Just because a form of interference or sound quality impairment is not directly audible, it is not safe to conclude it has no audible effects.