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What is your stance on Chinese brand Hi-fi equipment

What is your stance

  • I had no, and have no interest in buying Chinese Hifi equipment

    Votes: 14 8.1%
  • I am watching, waiting for a good sale

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I am watching, waiting for a better device in the future

    Votes: 8 4.7%
  • I have bought at least one, and will buy more in the future

    Votes: 117 68.0%
  • I have bought at least one, and will never buy again

    Votes: 14 8.1%
  • I am already fully Chinese Hifi equipped

    Votes: 19 11.0%

  • Total voters
    172

Sal1950

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It's undeniable that Hifi equipment from Topping, SMSL, Sabaj, Aiyama etc. are very popular here in ASR. The interests seem huge, but I wonder what's the consensus, are they actually popular or just we are led to believe?
In general I don't have an opinion on them specifically and I won't start a debate on the human rights issue.
If I had my choice, I'd much rather see this manufacturing muscle being shown in the good ole USA.
 

ta240

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I don't have one specifically for China, or any country or people. I personally think that nationality and ethnicity are some of the worst indicators available for anything that matters.
This:
Call it for what it is: HiFi components that are low cost, simple in functionality and being produced in massive quantities by a particular country and being sold to the world.

Wharfedale, Luxman, Quad, Castle, etc are all made in China. What was the question again?
If that is the answer then the question must be "what companies manufacture in China but provide in country warranty support for their products".
 

ta240

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Looking at your poll results it seems Chinese equipment is well regarded.
I have a JDS Labs Atom 2 (made in the USA I believe) here and a Topping D10s (Made in China). For looks the Topping beats the JDS Labs hands down.
Both have measured as basically faultless and both are still working.
I'm not sure if people who try to make such comparisons are depressed that their country can't compete, or they resent the fact that the Chinese primarily have put quality audio reproduction in the hands of the masses rather than a select few.
I've had two topping DACs die and yet my JDS labs DAC still works....

Unfortunately, we can't discuss some of the reasons other countries can't 'compete' here....
 

bkatbamna

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I bought a cheap chinese tube pre-amp that they marketed as a clone of the Marantz 7 "circuit". Bought for only $400 shipped to my house. Probably measures horribly but to me it sounds great. In addition, I can put my ear up to the tweeter of my speakers and I don't hear any hiss or hum. I have changed the stock 12 Ax7 tubes to matched JJ tubes but the original tubes sounded great too.
HTB11ZT_ax2rK1RkSnhJq6ykdpXac.jpg


That's what it looks like. The maddening thing about it is that it has 4 line level inputs but no way to tell which of the input is active. I opened it up and there are LEDs inside that show which input it is, but they are facing the rear panel. :facepalm:
 

JanesJr1

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It isn't a bit 'off'. Call it for what it is: HiFi components that are low cost, simple in functionality and being produced in massive quantities by a particular country and being sold to the world. It bears discussion and begs opinions.

No different to the Japanese post war and into the 60s and 70s. They got called on their quality and guess what? They got so good, they became the best.

Chinese original manufacture still has that "seat-of-the-pants", "busted-ass" aesthetic, pioneered by the UK HiFi industry and refined over a few generations, poor design and an overall DIY look to it. It's getting better. But it isn't even remotely close to the Japanese in the early 1970s in the physical regard. It's horribly cheap on the inside. They think an anodized CNCd aluminium case equals a lifetime of reliability. It doesn't.

I can pull out an amplifier made in the 1970s that works as well as the day it was made. Each knob is better finished than anything I've seen out of China. They do easy and cheap, really well. They do not do, pride in ownership, reliability and longevity yet. They will get there.
Geez, Restorer-John, do you think that the old hi-fi values will endure? You sound like (at heart) kind of consdescending about ChiFi audio and the inevitable, unless I misread you. Don't forget, these are high value products, in many cases at historically modest cost; and as in all parts of tech, a short-to-medium expected life may be an advantage for consumers who can now afford to keep up with the latest. I mean, what enduring substance is there in fetishizing obsolete knobs over enjoying the music, and (for some) maybe upgrading now and then to recharge our gadget love affairs?

Are you sure that the market for over-priced audio jewelry is going to grow that much compared to the volcano of true hi-fidelity audio that will be emerging globally as billions of people move from subsistence to consumerism (and the stats show this to be the case, big-time). It's never been less expensive to become a true audiophile, and never been more affordable to upgrade our systems to new technology the way our grandparents did with GM cars.

Anyone with an Amazon HD Music account has access to 95 million lossless recordings for a tiny fraction of what I used to spend in the 80's and 90's on LP's and CD's. Anyone with just a few hundred dollars for headphone, dac-amp and maybe near-field monitors (like me) can break into great-performing hi-fi audio circles. The center of audio is shifting from Manhattan turntable-mavens to often great-performing starter headphone systems. They'll move upscale with time, but the past is the past, just like my father's handsome, bulletproof 1940's movie projector, moldering in my basement, useless but almost indestructible.

Or were you being ironic, and I'm just missing the joke? If so, you got me, one curmudgeon to another.
 
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Byrdsmaniac

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yeah, generally I agree. It's a bit of a strawman really the whole longevity thing. It's like a last refuge for people who can no longer base their views on the sound quality (since really it's the SQ that matters most by far for the majority of us). "Damn, this cheap stuff sounds better than my boutique gear! I gotta find some way to validate spending all that cash!" But in a digital device like a dac, I don't think a decades-long life span is even a realistic desire. Technology changes faster than that. In 20 years, we probably aren't even going to be using dacs.

For myself, I definitely do some adjusting of expectations based on cost though. Not just in electronics either. If I buy something for $30 and get 3 years of good use out of it, I'll take that over buying something for $300 that might last 30 years. I can replace the $30 unit a few times and still not hit that $300 expenditure and it's pretty safe to assume there's going to be other options available a decade later anyway...
I have a Rotel CD player in my bedroom I got in 1989. It still works fine. It doesn't appear to sound any different than the Sony Blue Ray player I got last year. I don't buy separate DACs. DACs just seem pointless to me.
 

Byrdsmaniac

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lol...anyone who is shipping a $150 dac to China for repair has lost the plot. On the one or 2 occasions where I've had some issue with a product I've purchased (usually from Amazon) the manufacturer has replaced it basically without hassle and not required me to send the defective unit back. Long term reliability does matter to an extent. But that extent is measured in years not decades. If I buy a dac for $150 (which remember, performs essentially perfectly in a sound quality sense) and it last 4 or 5 years, that's more than enough frankly. There's going to be a new dac available by then that I'll replace it with. I have no desire to drop $1000 on a dac that doesn't sound better just because it might survive for 20 years or more.
I don't buy cheap junk no matter where it was made. Nor do I waste money on audiophile bling.
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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I have a Rotel CD player in my bedroom I got in 1989. It still works fine. It doesn't appear to sound any different than the Sony Blue Ray player I got last year. I don't buy separate DACs. DACs just seem pointless to me.

Awesome. Interestingly enough, a lot of us do buy separate dacs and they don't seem pointless at all. While it's nice for you that you are still using cds and blue rays, I'm sure you'll agree (since it's essentially inarguable), most people aren't.
 
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Byrdsmaniac

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Awesome. Interestingly enough, a lot of us do buy separate dacs and they don't seem pointless at all. While it's nice for you that you are still using cds and blue rays, I'm sure you'll agree (since it's essentially inarguable), most people aren't.
If I had to start over, I might be tempted to do streaming. As it is, I have a substantial collection of curated music that I like and a limited amount of time for listening. If I did start from scratch, I'd still likely be using passive speakers and an integrated amp from Yamaha, Marantz, NAD or the like.. The DACs in my iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV are good enough for me. I don't want a computer or TV in the living room. But that's just my preference. For movies we do almost all streaming in another room. I'm more particular about music.
 

Sgt. Ear Ache

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Oh don't think for a second that I'm using dacs because I believe I need to for sound quality. I could probably connect my laptop to my headphone amp via the headphone jack and just use the dac in the realtec soundchip in the laptop and I doubt I'd hear a difference. But, I'm an audio geek and I like the toys so here we are. However, there's a limit to how much I'm willing to spend to indulge that syndrome when I know there's really no audible benefit. I do like some of the functionality of the dacs though. I use the remote on the E30 all the time...
 

anmpr1

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in 2005 I bought a little tube amp from an operation in Shenzhen. It's been in rotation 17 years now, currently powering two high sensitivity loudspeakers. I think it was five hundred dollars. The fit and finish and overall build quality is first rate. Stainless steel chassis, I think. Much better than old Dyna gear--most of those chromed chassis have corroded, but the internals can be easily replaced. Not sure about this one. I don't really know what's on the inside.

Unlike Dynaco, I can't say whether this little tube amp will be functional after fifty years. Will a Topping DAC be functional in fifty years? For sure, I won't be functional.

dared.jpg
 

Talisman

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Generally in the world of electronics the more complex and miniaturized a device is, the shorter its average life expectancy, or in any case the useful time before a problem.
A DAC is something that works in every electronic device we have in the house, including tiny bluetooth headsets, there is no reason why such a simple dedicated device, with a large case, should mysteriously stop working after a few months. or a year, or two, if not for design errors, excessive price cuts on components, or the willingness of the manufacturer to create a tool with an expiration date.
I have an enormous difficulty in getting into the minds of those who justify the thing with the low price, thus sponsoring the most sinister form of consumerism, which by now should be contained as much as possible.
I own countless amplifiers / dacs from low cost Chinese companies, some I like very much, some less so, I will definitely buy more from some brands and stop buying from other brands as well.
What I will never justify is the throwaway policy, not even on low-budget products. We are not chickens to be plucked and I will not be treated like this, I prefer to give my money to a company that respects me more as a customer, even if I have to have a slightly less performing product for this.
 

TimF

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Aren't these new generation audio products essentially computers? What is the current turn-over rate of computer and communications technology and its associated software? How many home computers and cell phones have you acquired and later moved beyond? It has been drummed into us to expect tech products to become obsolete and fuddy-duddy in half a decade's time, or sooner. And remember carburetors, stick shift transmissions, drum brakes, three speed transmissions, distributor caps and points, and Coleman gasoline lanterns. We've come to expect that something as complex as today's autos require very little maintenance--trouble free for years; and why shouldn't we expect and demand modern audio equipment to also be trouble free for years? Maybe it is not always that way with every product today (such as a small DAC, or a small amplifier--but especially for audio components sold as separates rather than receiver with DAC--that they are bought like cell phones and are expected to be (and are) trouble free, but we are getting there. Also, most people even in the wealthy countries consider $400, $500, and god forbid $600, to be an outrageous and stupidly high amount to pay for a home audio system. People don't all live in the same reality regarding product classes and quality levels--and quality levels are often mostly imaginary and spawned via advertising campaigns. Realities change and technology centers change --was it England that led the world in steam technology for driving work loads for a time? I like my Topping and Gustard products but I'm 75 and don't have the longevity needs of you younger folks, and I'm happy with my auto with its EA888 engine that was made in Mexico. I think Audi has 12 production plants in Mexico.
 

MRC01

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My experience & feelings toward it are mixed. It's great to see such high quality audio engineering available at such low prices. It's a level of price-performance value we've never seen before. That is great.

However, to hit the low price point, something has to give. It is typically build quality, software/firmware reliability/bugginess (more generally QA), support, or some combination of the above. I've experienced this first-hand and we've also seen this discussed in various threads here at ASR.

Another aspect of this is that the incredible measured performance of some of this inexpensive equipment has beneficial side effects:
1. Shines light on audio-phoolery, myths and BS.
2. Spurs manufacturers of true high-end equipment to up their game and sharpen their value proposition.
 

G|force

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exactly. The idea that there's some massive quality gulf between Chinese stuff and stuff produced elsewhere on the planet is laughable. The reality is that the non-Chinese products are often no better built, and still cost 5 times as much.
You meant 5 times more which is not the same as 5 times as much. Division and multiplication. I know what you meant and I agree.
 
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Sgt. Ear Ache

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Generally in the world of electronics the more complex and miniaturized a device is, the shorter its average life expectancy, or in any case the useful time before a problem.
A DAC is something that works in every electronic device we have in the house, including tiny bluetooth headsets, there is no reason why such a simple dedicated device, with a large case, should mysteriously stop working after a few months. or a year, or two, if not for design errors, excessive price cuts on components, or the willingness of the manufacturer to create a tool with an expiration date.
I have an enormous difficulty in getting into the minds of those who justify the thing with the low price, thus sponsoring the most sinister form of consumerism, which by now should be contained as much as possible.
I own countless amplifiers / dacs from low cost Chinese companies, some I like very much, some less so, I will definitely buy more from some brands and stop buying from other brands as well.
What I will never justify is the throwaway policy, not even on low-budget products. We are not chickens to be plucked and I will not be treated like this, I prefer to give my money to a company that respects me more as a customer, even if I have to have a slightly less performing product for this.

First of all, I don't see any particular reason why the dacs I'm currently using will crap out suddenly either. They might last a decade or more...who knows? I'm simply presenting a position in response to what is a common complaint about inexpensive (in this case Chinese) components. Frankly, I'm not really even convinced that more expensive dacs made elsewhere in the world have any higher probability of lasting decades anyway. Like I said earlier, it seems mostly like a strawman argument to me since there's no real way to argue the (good) inexpensive products don't offer spectacular performance in a sound quality sense. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many of the "boutique" components might have an even higher failure rate than some of the cheaper stuff.

Secondly, I'm not sure how someone who professes to own "countless" amps and dacs and plans to buy more is in a position to proselytize about rampant consumerism. Let's not pretend that all those audiophiles buying their high priced gear on the professed basis that it will survive the decades aren't still turning around in 5 years (or less) and buying the new hotness anyway.
 
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Sgt. Ear Ache

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You meant 5 time more which is not the same as 5 times as much. Division and multiplication. I know what you meant and I agree.

uh...one product that costs 5 times as much as another product is 5 times as costly. there's no division involved at all...
 
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