Anyone who works within the audio industry will know that OEMs have transferred production to China for one reason and one reason only: to save money. Saving money and manufacturing a quality product are two separate things.
No OEM that is respected in professional circles has moved its production to China – fact. For example, Focusrite (not that I rate them) make their consumer ranges in China, whereas the pro-grade units are still produced in England – why’s that? If Chinese manufacturing is so hot, why not take the Pro ranges there?
Nikon have outsourced their consumer cameras to China and Thailand, yet the pro-ranges are still made in Japan – why’s that?
George Massenburg debated producing sub-assemblies for GML in China on his newsgroup; after looking into it, he decided to keep production in the US… Note that Rupert Neve’s new range is produced in the US. Note that Tim de Paravincini makes all his ranges in the UK. API still manufacture in the US. SSL still manufacture in the UK.
Anyone who works around professional equipment on a daily basis (i.e. they have a rudimentary comprehension of manufacturing technology and audio design) and knows what to look for inside a piece of kit, will tell you that the wave of Chinese-made audio that has emerged in the last few years has reached a new low in terms of build quality, sound quality and serviceability – that’s a fact.
Harman insulted the intelligence of DJs by taking a famous brand and pumping it out in Chinese sweatshops – that’s why the range is being discontinued.
Hi-fi magazines will always give Chinese-made equipment glowing reviews because their livelihoods depend on it: without advertising they have no jobs; the new influx of Chinese money has been a welcome lifeline to what is a dying industry (the Internet is killing off the hi-fi press btw, check the circulation ratings…). Find me one hi-fi magazine where the company whose item is on the front cover do not advertise heavily...
Name me one world-class recording studio that uses any Chinese-made equipment whatsoever.
Name me one world-class mastering facility that uses any Chinese-made equipment whatsoever.
Name me one world-class Recording or Mixing Engineer who uses Chinese-made equipment.
Name me one world-class Mastering Engineer who uses Chinese-made equipment.
Name me one good thing Harman have ever done for the audio industry (MacDonalds constitute a paragon of integrity compared to Harman).
Darryl: please let me know about these world-class components made in China – I know a plethora of designers and engineers who’d be interested - it would make a massive difference to their profit margins - Thanks.
To add support to the above sentiment, I suggest visiting one of the forums on the ‘web that discuss professional studio / mastering equipment; you will note that Chinese-made equipment is very much regarded as a poor relation to that which is made in Europe and America. These people are professionals who would save a lot of money if the Chinese-made gear were any good – they don’t dismiss it out of dogma – go and ask them if you wish:
Note that - unlike Europe and the US - China does not have a world-class music industry with which to design equipment in conjunction with. Bill Putnam and Rupert Neve specified their legendary designs by consulting the likes of George Martin and Duke Ellington (or working with Charles Stepney in the case of George Massenburg) - the legacy of these designs lives on and is refined to this day.
Has China produced people that have changed the face of modern music as-we-know-it, and designed equipment in tandem with these artists? Do Stevie Wonder and the Beatles come from China?
Why is it that the made-in-Japan items I bought 10 years ago still function perfectly, yet the made-in-China units I bought just over a year ago have failed already?
If you wish to disagree that’s fine by me, but please
answer the questions directly without generalising or resorting to the subjective.