Counterfeit Audioquest Cables


I just wanted to put out a general query in regards to how people feel Audioquest is handling the issue of counterfeit cables. Personally, I am a huge fan of Audioquest and their products but I feel there could be a little more room for transparency on their behalf... No pun intended...

I don't mean to sound like a total heretic or a paranoid conspiracy theorist but I don't feel like my suspicions would be totally misplaced if I were to speculate that Audioquest is not only benefiting from the existence of bogus copycat look alikes but that they are deliberately allowing it to happen if not entirely responsible for it in the first place.

It is undeniably an effective way to dissuade consumers from private sales and coercing them into paying full retail prices for any of their products. It's also hard to ignore the steady decline in classified ads for Audioquest products on the various audiomarts.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, the AudioQuest Authentication Process also does not require them to explain their findings thus granting them authority to summarily judge a cable's authenticity.

In my humble opinion, a company as innovative as Audioquest could certainly divine a method to apply serial numbers to their products. That way, everything could be traceable and consumers could register their products. Not to mention that Audioquest could rebuild some of the lost confidence in their brand name.

Am I totally out of line here or perhaps missing something obvious? I would love to hear more points of view...
pontifex
I think this is a great thread. First let me say that I don't own any AudioQuest (AQ) cables. Let me try to address your points. With regard to AQ benefitting from the existence of bogus copycat lookalikes: I would agree with that as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as they say. With regard to AQ deliberately allowing it to happen I am 50/50 on that one. I guess in theory AQ could drop their prices enough to put the copycats out of business, but that is not sound business strategy. With regard to the notion of being responsible for the copycats in the first place, I would not agree with that as the existence of the copycats is just the free market capitalist machine at work. Is AQ doing everything they possibly can to make the copycats' job harder? I doubt it. Is AQ doing anything in that regard? I don't know. Do they have a responsibility to do anything? I would think so, in order to protect their reputation. And lastly, as far as AQ being an "innovative" company: personally I find their marketing strategy to be off-putting. How so? They have too many products, each with slick names which lack imagination and give the consumer absolutely no clue whatsoever about the products' performance. The sum total of that marketing strategy is intended to bewilder the consumer, such that they only thing left to do is assume that their cable which they charge X for is better than a competing cable which is lesser in price. Cable companies are notorious for this type of marketing strategy, and I find AQ to be one of the biggest offenders in this regard. I could name others but since the topic deals with AQ I will leave it at that; the other cable companies who do this know who they are.
I've also thought AQ's authentication program to not have much value to the consumer. Whether it stimulates the fraud market or not, I can't say. I do agree that it does tend to scare buyers into paying more money to buy from authorized dealers. You would think a company of that size would have serialized cables, especially at the higher end, but then that might help the second hand market, which is not in AQ's interest.
Fortunately, I am not a fan of AQ cables. While they are good, there are better, IMHO. AQ is not alone in the battle of counterfeit cables though.
"Do they have a responsibility to do anything? I would think so, in order to protect their reputation."

I was involved with a clothing company that had a valuable trademark and they took counterfeiting very seriously. . .but not only for reputation. As I understand trademark and Intellectual Property law (which is NOT a lot), any company is required to actively enforce and defend their marks and IP. If they fail to do so, they can actually lose their copyrights, IP, etc. This is why Disney takes such a hard line with their marks and images. Not that they're trying to be mean or unfriendly, but that if they allow it to happen, they lose their protection.
Excellent discussion guys-

china is to blame here, as they are buying as many Cables/power cords (especially the upper high-end offerings), as possible. Not only are they buying for pleasure, they are buying to break-down the materials and/or construction aspects, to deliberate copy the legit gear. Yes, these practices will contribute to the "gray" market stuff, no doubt. Over 10 years ago, it all began w/ Tara Labs. Happy Listening!
My question on counterfeit cables is this, are they counterfeit or unauthorized? What I mean is are the cables cheap copies, made in some garage type facility, or are they the authentic cables pirated out of an authorized factory?
Those fakes are all different:
There are ones you can't tell even if you cut or open them to see how they've built vs. originals and there are that are simply not even looking close to the real.
I agree with Jafant:
03-13-15: Jafant
Excellent discussion guys-

china is to blame here, as they are buying as many Cables/power cords (especially the upper high-end offerings), as possible. Not only are they buying for pleasure, they are buying to break-down the materials and/or construction aspects, to deliberate copy the legit gear. Yes, these practices will contribute to the "gray" market stuff, no doubt. Over 10 years ago, it all began w/ Tara Labs. Happy Listening!

I think that AQ does what they can. Do they profit from it? Maybe, but we aren't sure and never will be.
"The sum total of that marketing strategy is intended to bewilder the consumer, such that they only thing left to do is assume that their cable which they charge X for is better than a competing cable which is lesser in price. Cable companies are notorious for this type of marketing strategy, and I find AQ to be one of the biggest offenders in this regard."

Can you give me an example of what you are talking about? If you go to AQ's web site, they always show cross sections of their cables showing exactly what materials they use and how the cables are assembled. There are cable companies that do seem to be ambiguous about what they are doing, but I don't think that applies to AQ. They show you exactly what they are giving you.
This is excellent! Thanks for participating in this discussion. I was worried I would get a little bit of negative backlash but it's good to know that I'm not completely alone.

So far I am only familiar with Audioquest interconnects but I feel that this is a good time to branch out and try other brands. I also agree with Nicotico that their marketing isn't perfectly sound either. I think they would be better off by simplifying their lineup with half as many products and at half of their price points.
"You would think a company of that size would have serialized cables, especially at the higher end, but then that might help the second hand market, which is not in AQ's interest."

Its just the opposite. Having a good used market has a huge effect on the new market. Most people don't have unlimited resources. If they can't sell their old cables, they probably won't be buying new cables. There's more than enough examples of this. Look at companies that make other types of audio components that are not counterfeited. The most successful companies always have a very strong used market. It adds a tremendous amount of value to the brand. A perfect example is Bryston. Do you really think that having a 20 year transferable warranty costs the company money? After all, a warranty like that will definitely help the used market for their goods. Who wants to buy something you can't get rid of? Honda cars have the highest resale value, Chrysler does not. Do you think Fiat could have bought Honda instead of Chrysler? A healthy used market for a companies products directly effects the overall health of the company.
Very good point Zd542. I am also a huge Bryston fan and have owned over a dozen of their products. I even visited their shop once completely unannounced and got the royal treatment from them! Unbeatable service although they don't have any counterfeiting issues. At least not to the same degree.
>>Do you really think that having a 20 year transferable warranty costs the company money? <<

Yes, it does. It may not be a lot of money, but having a very long warranty DOES incur additional costs for the company.

>>Honda cars have the highest resale value, Chrysler does not. Do you think Fiat could have bought Honda instead of Chrysler?<<

What does this have to do with the discussion at hand? In any event, Hondas have a higher resale value because they are better made and last longer than Chryslers...

>>Do you think Fiat could have bought Honda instead of Chrysler? <<

Once again, what the heck does this have to do with the discussion at hand? You would be well advised to think a bit more carefully about the words you commit to this discussion...

-RW-
03-13-15: Zd542
Having a good used market has a huge effect on the new market.

I agree with that statement. My curiosity is why then Audioquest does not help their second hand market by putting serial numbers on their cables like Tara Labs, XLO, Stealth Audio. Purist Audio, and other cable companies do to help alleviate fraud?

AQ just says to ship the cables to us, and we will tell you if they are real or not. If we say they are not real, you do not get them back, they are "destroyed" and so is the money you spent on them. That's BS!!

They should be helping their consumers by identifying their legitimate product. It's not that hard to do. Hell, I even have cables from Snake River Audio that have serial numbers for authentication purposes. If a small company like SRA can do that, a big company like AQ can do it. They just choose not to, to help bully their consumers to buy from authorized dealers and pay more money.
Thank you, Jmcgrogan2! That is very helpful info.

I was unaware that other companies are producing serialized cables. I'm definitely going to follow up on that and look into these companies you've mentioned to better familiarize myself.

I also agree in terms of sending products to Audioquest. They really offer nothing in terms of consolation if they say that your cable isn't genuine. Many people would probably rather keep the cable to at least have something to show for their money instead of risking playing "Audioquest Roulette".
query whether at least some of the fakes are as good as or better than the authentic ones. i've heard, reliably, of fake beats headphones which are better made than the originals; likewise gucci bags.
I also agree in terms of sending products to Audioquest. They really offer nothing in terms of consolation if they say that your cable isn't genuine. Many people would probably rather keep the cable to at least have something to show for their money instead of risking playing "Audioquest Roulette".

I once had a cable that I thought was genuine, but which a manufacturer (for reasons that I do not remember these many years later) thought had been "cut down" and reterminated in a way that would adversely affect SQ. The manufacturer did not have a formal authentication program (at least at that time) but they offered to look at the cable and return me an authentic one; either the one I sent or a new one if mine had been altered. They turned out to be right; I got a pair brand-new, most recent version cables back. I'm not gonna say the name; the president of the company personally got involved, was very gracious, and I wouldn't want them flooded with similar requests, 5-10 years later. They are smaller than AQ, but a very well known player in the cable game.

I agree that AQs program is really punitive and offers no incentive for anyone to use it. OTOH, they are in a no-win situation on this issue. The idea of S/Ns is appealing, but as I think about it more, it seems to me that if you can counterfeit the cable labeling and packaging effectively enough that a sophisticated consumer is fooled, why couldn't you just counterfeit the S/N?
@Swampwalker,

You are completely correct. People counterfeit S/N's all the time. The bad counterfeiters simply use the same one over and over making them easy to spot over time, but the good ones change them up.

The only way to truly authenticate products using S/N's is to have a corresponding database listing the owners and it's not very easy (almost impossible really) to reliably maintain something like this.

S/N's on products do very little to stop counterfeiting.
"03-13-15: Rlwainwright
>>Do you really think that having a 20 year transferable warranty costs the company money? <<

Yes, it does. It may not be a lot of money, but having a very long warranty DOES incur additional costs for the company."

I read an interview with Stuart Taylor, and when asked about the warranty, he said they make more money because the 20 year warranty is in place, not less. Its very rare that they actually get a piece back that fails from something covered under warranty.

"Once again, what the heck does this have to do with the discussion at hand? You would be well advised to think a bit more carefully about the words you commit to this discussion...

-RW-"

Sorry, but I say whatever I want. I don't really give a rat's ass if you, or anyone else has a problem with that.
Let's keep it cordial folks! :)
Serial numbers may have little affect, but at least it shows that the company is making an effort. It can make one more hurdle that may make a counterfeiter hassle an easier target, like Audioquest. Audioquest has more problems with counterfeit than other companies, because they are such an easy target.

Also, companies like Tara Labs and XLO that have serial numbers and registration programs do help even more. If you are buying used cables, ask the seller for the serial number. Tara Labs and XLO could tell you if that seller is the registered owner of the cables. If you then buy the cables, you can have the registered title transferred to you.

This may sound ridiculous to some, but when you are talking about buying used cables costing many thousands of dollars, it can be comforting to know that they are authentic. It can be done, wouldn't you like to know that some of your $10K speaker cables paid to help authenticate them? LOL!
I'm sorry, but the thread theory just sounds like paranoia, a conspiracy where the manufacturer is secretly making/selling the pirated products themselves? That just doesn't add up.

Higher end audio companies have their prices set at full retail with little discounts because the retailers have to do that, or lose out on the brand. On the other hand, they do allow negotiation on multiple item purchases, so what's the fuss?

Audioquest or any other company is allowed to sell their products for as much as they can get for them. If you don't like it, simply go elsewhere.