Great question. I have also noticed some Chinese products don't have waht you mention or a serial number.
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The UL listing is not a requirement. Underwriters Lab is a private company, the equivalent of the "redbook seal of approval", or "Consumer Digest pick". It is one of the oldest private nonprofit testing tools around. (established in 1894)
No basis in law. They seem to have cornered the market, and consumers think it is a government agency. Nope, just really good advertising over many years has made them SEEM to be a law.
So the "UL" mark means they tested the product. NOT having it means they did not test it. And nothing more. (I am certain they charge the manufacturer a fee for having the UL seal on the product or box.)
So if you would be willing to buy a product not tested by Consumer reports... you can buy a product without the UL seal or mark.
IF you are very concerned about safety, then buy only products with the mark.
PS: a product may have a power cord with the mark, that can mean ONLY the cord was tested... or the whole product. a slippery slope IMO.
Most power cables by many high end audio manufacturers are not ul listed. If you had a fire in your home and the insurance inspector found that to be the problem, that does give them a loop hole in there right to pay the claim.
Most are simple in design and are very safe, but it is a consideration when buying a power cable.
Anything that is remote, the receiver for the remote is always running. For me this stuff must be UL listed. My audio gear is never left on, so I don't worry to much about that stuff. A power amp, tube or solid state can get fairly hot. Vintage gear can be a risk, since the insulation is brittle, or old technology, and risky due to age. The CE marking means nothing for safety according to UL. Some companies try to pass that off as a safety test. Some US companies also. Play it safe and buy UL tested, or unplug it when not using.CE/UL link.[http://www.ul.com/global/eng/pages/offerings/perspectives/regulator/electrical/additionalresources/cemarkings/]
Some cities and counties such as LA require safety approval but it doesn't have to be UL. There are many other safety agencies such as CSA, ETL and TUV are similar. Canada, like the EU also requires safety approval on all electrical devices.
The cost of get an approval can easily exceed $10,000 depending on complexicity of the device. There is also annual fees and unannounced factory inspections to ensure that the parts used in production are the same as the submitted test sample.
CE approval is usually more expensive because it requires EMI and a host of other tests like surge, esd and so on. In addition to the test costs, many test samples are needed since most of the tests are destructive so there is additional costs.
For many small manufacturers, the cost is too high. When I worked in the network industry, I spent $200k a year for all sorts of approvals and thousands more in equipment cost.
Also, it's possible that meeting some of the safety requirements could have negative effect on sound quality. For example, to meet EMI and ESD requirements, filters might have to be installed on inputs and outputs connectors which may impact sound quality. Digital devices such as Dacs and Cd players produce lots of EMI.
I always thought the CE mark was for Europe. The UL states
I also thought interference causing electronics (digital,etc) had to meet FCC rules, from my understanding.
I'll bet it costs a bundle to get a UL cert....or the equivalent from Canada or Europe.
That alone should preclude some small production / boutique brands from getting such.
I DO think it should be illegal to not serialize equipment thru a unique number.
The build sheet for a particular piece or batch will list sources of parts and such so if a defect is found ( HEY, those caps I sold you? no good!) gear can be tracked down and either fixed or replaced.
Hi Elizabeth, my post was in response to Sfstereo post that sounds like the CE stamp is better than can be had in the US without it. Maybe it the networking field, but I don't see it doing anything, that is advantageous for audio sound here. The post I'm referring to, is below.