Difference in quality in products made in China?

There is a belief among many audiophiles that electronics assembled in China or Korea are not as well made as products assembled in the USA and England. This has nothing to do,(I believe) with the "technical abilities" of workers, as it has to do with standards of quality control, and the sourcing of less quality parts throughout Asia

This may be all hogwash and just biased opinion, but this question comes up to often to be quickly dismissed. From my own experience which is limited compared to other members, the products(amps. pre-amps CD players) I have owned that were made in the USA, or UK, and Canada, have been solid in terms of long term reliability. I would like to hear others opinions on this issue.
Every country manufactures good and bad products. I think the reason China stands out so much in the bad department is the sheer volume of goods coming from there. When you produce that much volume, quality control is bound to suffer. My comments are directed toward the mass marketed aspect of manufacturing not the miniscule one man operations, that's another ball of wax entirely. Just my opinion, biased as it may be.
see AGON thread:


Arcam partial buyback

" .... Moreover Arcam pulled production of the AVR 600 from China to England in September of 2010 due to quality control issues. Since the AVR 600 has been made in England it has been more reliable...."
I've often felt that quality control is a corporate choice. Like what kind of failure rate is acceptable for the brand and how much would it cost to reduce it.

I have had failures in notebook computers made in China. But they are complicated products, and I have had no notebook computers made in the U.S. So an apples to apples (sorry pun) comparison is hard.

The best comparisons would be between similar products from the same company but made in different locations. (e.g., BMWs made in Germany vs BMWs made in U.S.) There are a few high end companies that do sell electronics made in China and in the U.S., but I haven't seen any failure data to make a comparison. Has anyone else?
Oh, you mean products like Apple iPad and IPhone?
Management is more important than origin. Kentucky plant that makes Toyota Avalon is one of the best in the world (my 17 year old Avalon works like Swiss watch). I also have Mac Mini and Macbook Air, both made in China, with no problems whatsoever. The biggest distinction in electronics is technology. Hand soldering require skills and often leaves cold solder joints (RCA TVs were famous for that) or placement mistakes, but surface mount is a very well controlled process. Once it is set properly it works identical here or there. As for quality of the parts - a lot of them come from Asia anyway while list of approved sources is supplied by engineer. I wouldn't mix Korea into this because they have much higher standards (just look at Samsung). Samic, for instance, is completely automated Korean factory that makes guitars for many brand names. They just dial required components and machines complete the work.
that must be why Samick guitars are not very good.
Samick makes Greg Bennett (Guitar Player Editor Pick Award), Gibson, Epiphone, Hohner, Wasburn, Fender. Gretsch 5120 is also Korean (Peerless). Samick Gibsons are made in Cilesungi, near Bogor, Indonesia.

Samick has factories in Korea, Indonesia, China, Japan. I've read that Chinese guitars are the best of the bunch. It is estimated that Samick currently makes about 50% of world's guitars.
The issue with China is that everybody and his brother want to be in business making it very difficult to sort out the good guys from the bad. Their economy is growing at around 10% so lots of fly by nighters to worry about. The well established outfits turn out quality product. Give them probably another 20-30 years to sort it out but there's just too many people there to ever consider them reliable overall imo.
Csontos, you're talking about Chinese companies. What about US or UK companies manufacturing in China (including Apple)?
Thanks to all who have responded so far. In a global economy, my question may actually be irrelevant. Everybody borrows( or is it steals??) from everybody else. Unfortunately, the days of economic nationalism are long gone. I say unfortunately because in the 1950's 60's and most of the 70's, American goods were in great demand because of the quality of American made products.
I also have a MacBook Air with no issues. I replaced my MacBook with it which was 6 years old when it finally died. So I don't think quality control is an issue with foreign companies in China who care about their reputation.
Been there - done that - got the repair bills

Won't ever buy components or wire from china EVER!,

Some iec connectors/plugs seem to be OK.

Since most stuff is built there these days its probably the same as with everything else - buy brand names!
I worked as field engineer for a company that built power plants. We sourced main steam valves (valves that feed the turbine lines) to a Chinese oompany because of price. These valves have to be forged high strength steel alloys. Long story short, we discovered that the valves we installed were two piece welded. That was a disaster waiting to happen.

Ever since then, I shy away from made in china for everything. Every new baby food story etc reinforces the feeling.
Well I got my first bad component that was made in China. It was a used XiangSheng 728A tube preamp that was made a couple of years ago. The previous owner babied it and sent it to me in original packaging. I've bought from this seller before and I know his gear is well taken care of. When I got the 728A I was swapping out tubes and removed those metal retaining clips on the tubes and put the tubes I wanted to roll in. I thought I was being careful with the swapping but when all was said and done one of the tubes wouldn't light up. I had no sound from the other channels. I take the preamp to my tech and from what he saw the soldering of the sockets to the circuit board were shoddy. Also I managed to crack the circuit board as well. He said the quality of the sockets used to was so so. This is a budget preamp so I wasn't surprised about the quality of the tube sockets. The soldering as well as the cracking of the circuit board was surprising.

I've been good with the bevy of China made products I've boght. From Tube phonos, Amps and solid state preamps it has been a good experience. This one was a shocker to me.
(http://news.consumerreports.org/safety/2007/06/can-you-trust-c.html) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/jun/29/dell-problems-capacitors) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor_plague) (http://rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/maggots-in-the-pasta-europe-screens-tainted-chinese-food/) (http://www.wnd.com/2007/06/41959/) (http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/03/14/the-10-most-counterfeited-products-sold-in-america/) (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-07/counterfeit-parts-from-china-found-on-raytheon-boeing-systems.html) (http://news.sky.com/story/20576/fake-chinese-parts-found-in-us-planes) I find the last two especially disturbing, as I spent a lot of time in aircraft.
My purchase was a 50 watt integrated amp - looked fantastic ,stainless steel chassis, cast aluminum tube cages, remote source switching/volume and it sounded pretty good, but under the covers...

The transformer was not built to 120v spec so the heater voltage tap was measured at 7.1v and not 6.3v as it should have been
- this caused premature failure of a complete set gold lion tubes tubes in 3 months

The circuit board had under rated pcb traces that had to be rewired

Some resistors were under rated for their duty - had them replaced

Capacitors used were sub standard for this type of component - had them replaced

I had it fixed for around $400 and it worked very well

After I had sold it (mainly because I was tired of heating my house every time I played music) I had heard that the output transformers were not a great quality either

Looks can sure be deceiving
I remember a story about stainless steel.

Properly manufactured stainless steel uses iron, nickel, and molybdenum blended to make a shiny and corrosion resistant metal.

A Chinese chemical plant under construction bought cheap stainless steel made in China.

The stainless steel maker had substituted another cheaper metal for the nickel. The resultant product was shiny but not corrosion resistant.

The chemical plant began to experience considerable corrosion after a few months and all of the "stainless steel" componentry had to be replaced with expensive authentic stainless steel. At considerable cost in labor and lost production.

Natural selection at the corporate level?
IMO: China and Korea are capable of making products at any quality level desired. Same things were once said about Japanese products, now I wish I could afford some of them.
I just bought some Pangea power cables (9ASE & 14AE Signatures), they are well made and sound wonderful. My other cables are Cardas Golden Reference and PS audio I don't believe that they are superior!
Parasound was the first American company in the early 80's
to manufacture offshore in Asia. Their products have been manufactured in Taiwan for over thirty years. The biggest company in China that provides OEM services for Audio companies in Europe and the U.S. is IAG. The International Audio Group. Companies such as Vincent Audio, Cayin, BMC and Prima Luna just to name a few, have all their manufacturing done in China. Many of the mid-line speakers from B&W are made in China at B&W's own factory. All Polk speakers are made in China. The best quality produced in China are American and European companies that have their own employee's living in China to
oversee quality control and production. IAG production of electronics is the best in China. Hi-Vi Corp. in China is right behind IAG. Hi-Vi owns Swans speakers and produce forty thousand speakers a month for a world wide network. They are the largest manufacturer of speaker driver's in Asia and have the largest Anechoic chamber in Asia. They currently have under construction a large production campus of multiple buildings that when complete, will surpass IAG.
Also..as most are aware nowaday's, all laptop and desktop computer's are made in China, a market that China has taken away from Japan during the past seven year's. Japan still hold's strong in the Chip market, high end audio and television's, but in the foreseeable future China
and South Korea will take those market's away from Japan as well leaving them their strongest industry, automobile's.
I neglected to include that 70% of all Luxman products are now made in China by IAG, which also own's Luxman. Other companie's that are now owned by IAG who manufacture's their product's is Wharfedale, Quad, Mission and Castle Speaker's as well as Audiolab.
Quality can be found in China but their labor market is shrinking fast, lowering the level of skilled labor available. Those who are already established in Chinese markets have the pick of the labor.

China is also based on a very old system of local "rulers" who have more control over the provinces they live in than the local authorities do. Nissan calls these local elites "little emperors" who must be appeased (by design and features) if sales are to continue at an acceptable rate. It's a different way of doing things.

All the best,
I got Audio Space el34 Nova (upgraded caps) for over 5 years and I use it for everything, AV, HI FI 8 everyday.It has been rock solid reliable, not like my other 2 Audio Research VT100 that blows all the time! They actually sounded more natural then the VT. I kept the Chinese amp at the end.
Additional info..KEF speakers is owned by a Chinese Company, GP Acoustics, based in Hong Kong. KEF's top line speakers are made in the U.K. but their mid and low line speakers are made in China. GP Acoustics also owns Arcam and Celestion.
Why are there so many Asians in western conservatories: because Asians have a physiological advantage. Their hands and fingers are strong and nimble. Their bone structure is considerably different from that of people from European decent. This advantage can carry over into the area of electronics. Look at some of the Japanese products from the 1960's and early 1970's.
As far as intelligence, work ethic and skill is concerned, the Chinese could build and sell Hubble telescopes if it made financial sense for them to do so. By the way, my Quad 2905's sound great and they're built to higher standard than the previous Quads (in my humble opinion). The biggest problem with poorly made Chinese products is that those manufacturers who make cra$ just don't care.
Because of the huge manufacturing "ability" in China, there are many products that are designed in the west but built in China. Some western companies take quality control seriously and others do not.

It's exactly the same with Chinese companies.

Problem is right now the WWW lets us buy from companies that have a web pressesnce, but no real reputation.

Their products initially look good, but ultimately longevity is not their main goal.

Also, many dealers looking to tempt us in to their stores, provide less than stellar quality products sourced form China. It's easy for them to stop selling that product once quality becomes an issue, with the age old line "Oh yes, we stopped selling that brand due to quality issues".

From what I've read on Agon, Pangea is one company that does provide quality products - and I'm sure there are many more.

But it is very much a case of buyer beware :-(

A little old Italian man once told me...

" to trust is good - not to trust is better!"
I have two pairs of 2905's and one pair of 2805's, all made in China.

The 2805's have an adequate fit and finish, comparable to my Quad ESL's. The first pair of 2905's was much better. The second pair of 2905's, from 2-3 years ago, was better yet, and significantly so - they could almost have been German.

What is still missing are the fine details which we hobbyists use and admire: self-threading screws should be teflon coated and anything but Phillips, wires should be 18AWG silver coated, etc. But few manufacturers go that far, Chinese or occidental.
( http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2007-05-06/news/0705050225_1_syrupy-poison-pure-glycerin-diethylene-glycol )
Rodmann99999...I clicked on the link you posted to the toxic chemical found in syrup in China known as Diethylene Glycol. This chemical has also been showing up in Audio components manufactured in China such as Preamps. Extensive investigation by the U.S. Department of Health has found the chemical imbedded in volume knobs and push buttons on the front of Preamps. By using the control's on the Preamp causes the chemical to absorb into the blood stream. The chemical only becomes lethal when playing the final movement of the 1812 Overture. 17 Audiophiles during the past eighteen months have dropped dead in their sound rooms from the chemical listening to the exploding cannon's in the Overture.
I knew it! A conspiracy, much deeper than exploding/inferior capacitors!
The weirdly racist and unsubstantiated claim that Asians have more "nimble fingers" is utter nonesense. There are simply a LOT of Asians to pick from and therefore a lot of Asians around everywhere (especially in Asia!)...I grew up in Honolulu which is basically an Asian community and learned firsthand that common racial stereotypes are always ignorance based bullshit.
I have had no problems with workmanship of Chinese gear.
It's the counterfeit components they put in that annoys me.
Eg. the Ming Da stuff, even those "properly imported" by the US "distributor". There is no shortage of Rudeyconn caps... and I am not kidding.
Also is the utter disregard for safety. No bleeding resistors across 1st stage filtering caps, no elevated filament voltage for SRPP gain stages etc.
The weirdly racist and unsubstantiated claim that Asians have more "nimble fingers" is utter nonesense. There are simply a LOT of Asians to pick from and therefore a lot of Asians around everywhere (especially in Asia!)...I grew up in Honolulu which is basically an Asian community and learned firsthand that common racial stereotypes are always ignorance based bullshit.

Wolf-garcia, I appreciate your conscious efforts towards being politically correct however my assumption from your post would be that you have limited contact with pedagogues and students in a conservatory situation. This claim is far from being my own generalized assumption but rather information passed on from piano and string players and instructors involved in the classical music field. The most notable being a non-racist minister and piano instructor who attended several excellent conservatories on the east coast. My logic and intuition tells me to believe professionals in the field with venerated standing and honorary credentials.
Goofyfoot- there were also "professionals w venerated standing" who said that the Jews killed Christ and that black men had an additional muscle and/or bone that made them better athletes than whites, and that humans would suffocate in railroad cars traveling at 25 mph. Sheesh!!!!
Swampwalker, is that what I said? If I were to mention to an Asian violinist that she had natural hands for playing the violin (which is often the case), that this would be defamatory remark rather than a simple observation. There was nothing in my original comment that would even suggest racial targeting or criticism towards Asians. Besides this, you know nothing about me, whether my wife is Chinese or whether or not I'm Jewish, nothing, zilch. To think that commenting about the physical strength and dexterity in the physiology of an Asians hands is less than a compliment is taking what I've said totally out of context. This new age-ie woo woo notion that were all physiologically the same and that commenting otherwise is somehow racial profiling is sure nonsense.
The Communist part of China loves our money but hates our culture, but the current criminals we have in Congress are moving us closer than ever before to a police state Orwellian government, so its just a matter of time we will be like China. The underground liberation groups in China respect what we have left of our Republic and love Americans. Its only the racists against China in the U.S. that fail to recognize the extreme contrasts in China and the changes they went through in 1948. China is a mixed bag just like the U.S. and the certain companies in China manufacturing very high quality electronics are the Asians that embrace capitalism more and and respect free enterprise and open markets we have in the states. As long as I'm aware of these certain companies and the pride they have in what they make I'll never have a problem buying Audio components made in China. After all, your laptop computer is made in China.
Goofyfoot...I've been a professional musician and a professional goofyfoot (competitive pro longboard surfer) likely longer than you've been alive, and I strongly suggest you get out in the world a little more to learn what racist nonesense is all about. Thinking finger size has something to do with musical proficiency is weird (I know some 300 lb Hawaiian ukulele masters who might question your opinions), claiming this is common knowledge among some school of classical musicians simply insults classical musicians, and if you think objecting to racist stereotyping is political correctness, just spout that crap among some of my large handed Asian friends and be ready to duck. I don't know you, but if you're somebody who would actually say something like "you have nice fingers for violin LIKE ASIANS OFTEN DO", you've showed me all I need to know.
Well then Wolf-garcia you undoubtedly must be right. I can see by your responses that you've been involved in teaching classical violin and piano for 60 or so years. But since I have these ridiculous racist stereotypes, then I'll add these as well; Koreans typically have curly blonde hair and pigmies are normally 6 feet tall and it would be my racist perceptions to believe any differently. Get real.
I actually met a seven foot pygmy by the name of Nelson at LAX in 2009 while waiting for a connecting flight. He was with his Agent and informed me he just signed with the Laker's.
Well Audiozen, that doesn't at all make me feel warm and fuzzy. What a grave mis-justice.
I rest my case.
Wolf-garcia, don't you worry about hurting your hand while surfing? I had a friend who played classical guitar and who hurt his hand while using a jackhammer to earn extra income over the summer. He never regained the strength in that hand that he needed for playing classical guitar so he had to switch over to a jazz program. One wrong mishap could ruin your professional music career.
Grave mis-justice? To the Pygmie's or to the Laker's?
To humanity!
Goofyfoot- it's called an analogy. You said
Asians have a physiological advantage. Their hands and fingers are strong and nimble. Their bone structure is considerably different from that of people from European decent.


My logic and intuition tells me to believe professionals in the field with venerated standing and honorary credentials.

I compared your first statement to statements made by others about so-called "physiological" (actually your example is anatomical)differences between different groups. The actually biological reality is that the intra-racial differences among humans are just as great as inter-racial differences.

With respect to your statement about people with venerated standings, how about all of the popes up until John 23rd, all of whom developed and/or explicitly endorsed the Church's teachings that all Jews were individually and collectively guilty for the crucifixion, and used that as a justification for antisemitism (best case) and genocide (worst case)!!! Silly me, I thought it was the Romans.

In other words, Goofy, KMA!!!!
To make a blanket statement that "Asians have a physiological advantage, their hands and fingers are strong and nimble" is absolutely ridiculous.
While I'm sure there are many Asians who have hands and fingers that are strong and nimble, I'm also sure there are many oafs, butterfingers and ham handed klutzes as well.
IMO: IF (and this is a huge IF) any Asian advantage actually exists it may be one of patience and persistence rather than specific physical traits. And I'm certainly not suggesting all "Asians" are patient or persistent either.
"Why are there so many Asians in western conservatories: because Asians have a physiological advantage. Their hands and fingers are strong and nimble. Their bone structure is considerably different from that of people from European decent. This advantage can carry over into the area of electronics. Look at some of the Japanese products from the 1960's and early 1970's."

Goofyfoot you might want to consider, along with those musical experts from conservatories that what make a muscician most proficient is what lays between the ears not some physiological advantage. Hand structure and size may help in easing facility but it doesn't compensate for the brain that sends the signals. I'm sorry, I totally disagree with your observation along with the "experts" you reference. And as Judge Judy is fond of saying, if it doesn't make sense it's not true. There are many examples of great musicians with large and small hands of I'm sure varying bone structure, lest we forget the concert pianist Alicia de Larrocha who at 4'7" in stature had large hands for her size but small hands by normal standards, not ideal for sure, how in the hell did she do it?