Counterfeit Audioquest cables?

thyname

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Apr 22, 2019
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How do you tell? Say the pricey power cords, Dragon or Firebird HCs bought used.

Audioquest has a link on the website about filling a cumbersome form, generating a number, and sending it over to California, but I don’t think it’s working. I filled one last week but never heard back
 
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DHT4ME

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Apr 12, 2021
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While AQ says their cables are made in the USA it’s very easy to figure out that their facility is not a foundry with the smelters and other gigantic industrial machinery needed to produce wire product. I don’t even thing they can make anything like that with the harsh EPA rules that moved almost every wire production plant overseas. With that said there is plenty of evidence that they are made in Asia and ASSEMBLED in the USA. It’s not uncommon for stuff to make it’s way out the back door inChina and get grey marketed. I have seen knockoff cables from most manufacturers and they are generally easy to spot but the AQ stuff I have seen that is of dubious origin is impossible to tell from the genuine article. They look like they are back door specials to me. Cardas knockoffs are obviously fake when seen as well as the Siltech knockoffs.

I will say this, the knockoffs (Cardas, Siltech etc) usually sound great, just not the same as the real deal. The AQ knockoffs sound like AQ. AQ will probably deny everything but I have personally seen them from a fellow audio club member.
This is the problem with China. They make most everything sold and they have no scruples.
 

mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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I've had more than a dozen dealings with AQ service. They're great. More than 90% of the time they're very prompt to issue an RMA. I've had one request slip through - just try again. I just got issued another RMA this week. I've never had any of the used AQ cables I've sent to them flagged as counterfeit - so far (knock on wood).

Discerning counterfeits these days is a real challenge. Search through AliExpress and see how closely some counterfeits now emulate the current Mythical Series speaker cables and PCs :( Basically, superficial analysis of pics can only go so far. You have to trust your sellers, AND those sellers need to have tracked ownership all the way back to a legit source. There used to be a few telltale signs of AQ counterfeits:

* Interconnect models featuring air tubes should have a wire "chatter" sound when tapped
* Open the interconnect or speaker connectors and visibly confirm the wire is solid core of the right metals. Take care that silver colored metal is actually silver, not steel or aluminum - because that's a thing, too. Some of the more sophisticated Sky counterfeits would use Columbia (copper) innards with the exact Sky outer braid (these would also pass the rattle test!).
* The velcro battery pack straps with white "audioquest" text on them is a dead giveaway of a counterfeit. These were also thicker and fuzzier than the actual velcro AQ used. AQ never used white font on their straps, IIRC.
* Many counterfeits of Tree-series speaker cables had a very lumpy / kinked appearance to their outer cover & braid (looks bad); real tree series is very smooth and kinkless.

However, many of these "tricks" have broken down. Also note that a braid cover going "hairy", even on new-ish cables, is NOT necessarily a sign of counterfeit. Their current braids for Hurricane / Thunderbird / Firebird are very susceptible to this. I wish they'd address it as it detracts from the otherwise high quality feel of the product.
 
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Gregadd

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"...{text omitted} This is the problem with China. They make most everything sold, and they have no scruples."
And yet we swim in their pool every chance we get. They have no obligation to follow our rules. They are a sovereign country free to define their own game.
 
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plasmod3

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If someone isn't greedy send thinking they have a bargain...then the counterfeiters won't have a captive market...thing is we like to Russian roulette to get cheapies...
 

mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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If someone isn't greedy send thinking they have a bargain...then the counterfeiters won't have a captive market...thing is we like to Russian roulette to get cheapies...
There ARE genuine great deals on used cables out there - I love the older series silver speaker cables. And even the ancient Sky is still a solid IC.

But those Chinese "copies" selling new for less that 10% or 5% of genuine MSRP - what on earth do people think they're getting? I really don't get why people buy those, with who knows what metals and insulators. I'd be real curious to cut some of those open - no way they ever use solid silver like many of these high-end models are supposed to feature (maybe silver plate at the most, or steel/aluminum/nickel alloys to look silver). But there's NO way I'm giving those guys cash to find out.
 

plasmod3

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Aug 28, 2020
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There ARE genuine great deals on used cables out there - I love the older series silver speaker cables. And even the ancient Sky is still a solid IC.

But those Chinese "copies" selling new for less that 10% or 5% of genuine MSRP - what on earth do people think they're getting? I really don't get why people buy those, with who knows what metals and insulators. I'd be real curious to cut some of those open - no way they ever use solid silver like many of these high-end models are supposed to feature (maybe silver plate at the most, or steel/aluminum/nickel alloys to look silver). But there's NO way I'm giving those guys cash to find out.
They buy it because they like a bargain
 

mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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I wouldn't call them bargain hunters - more likely future scam victims (a really vicious scam eventually, not a $150 fake Chinese cable). How is it a bargain when you have no idea what you're getting? I get that the Chinese can replicate the braids, connectors and superficial details to a very high degree, but I'd be shocked if the metal quality was anywhere near real deal products. For example, "WEL Signature" counterfeits, 2m for $426 on Ali Express - the real cables should have 1 pound of pure silver in them. Spot price of the raw silver would be what, $300? Even the Chinese aren't doing any processing on that much silver and making any money off $426, unless it was stolen off the line.
 

thyname

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Apr 22, 2019
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If someone isn't greedy send thinking they have a bargain...
Oh please. Who does not like a bargain. Money does not grow on trees. If a Dragon HC PC costs $5,500 for one meter MSRP, would it not make a lot more sense if bought at $2,750 used? Still a lot of money, but maybe more reasonable?

And I would never deliberately buy those Chinese Ali Express counterfeits, no matter how cheap, fully knowing they are indeed fake. I was talking about used / second hand Audioquest advertised as authentic in sites like Audiogon or USAM
 

plasmod3

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Oh please. Who does not like a bargain. Money does not grow on trees. If a Dragon HC PC costs $5,500 for one meter MSRP, would it not make a lot more sense if bought at $2,750 used? Still a lot of money, but maybe more reasonable?

And I would never deliberately buy those Chinese Ali Express counterfeits, no matter how cheap, fully knowing they are indeed fake. I was talking about used / second hand Audioquest advertised as authentic in sites like Audiogon or USAM
And what if the 2750 cord is a fake, would you not have overpaid for something? The only way one can know the item is not a fake is to get it off the dealer or distributor. I have seen fake cables in real original packaging and really good visual fakes out there. And also ppl who knowingly bought fakes and said wow they sound really good... Even with the attitude that.. It's OK if it is a fake, I can sell it as the real thing later on and breakeven or even get more money than what I paid for it.

In this life you can't get something for nothing, those who think they can are unfortunately going to get scammed... or try to scam others in their folly. Again there are only scammers when there are willing ppl to buy. You might say unknowingly but as the above few point out, you can't pay less than materials for a cable and expect it to be real....
 

Gregadd

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I doubt if any of these companies actually pull their own cable. So it's just a matter of getting the parts and putting it together. Reverse engineering must be a snap.
 

MarkusBarkus

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...a lot of fake clothing comes with authentic labels; scammers target labels and packaging from manufacturers to enhance the illusion of authenticity. I expect it's similar with other markets.

And I agree with @Gregadd re: cable companies: most of them are not pulling their own cable. Moreover, many boutique cable guys are using Furutech or other high-end connectors. Most of the sheathing is available, even the carbon weaves. So what's left? Assembly.

Actually, what I find amazing is the speed at which knock-offs appear in the marketplace. The nimbleness and technical agility of the people making the fakes is impressive, you have to admit. Which I guess points to how easy it is to assemble and market stuff if you remove the intellectual/R&D aspects of manufacturing. You're just copying...which is what companies and governments really fear.

I am not endorsing buying knock-offs of any product, but it's obvious why they exist: rising prices and human nature.
 

Gregadd

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I Agree about knockoffs (trademark infringement}. if you do not have a patent, your design has entered the public domain and is fair game.
 

Gregadd

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I kinda hate to say this. For most designers there is no real R&D. It's the designers learning curve for ideas that already exist. Why should the customer pay for that? Should we be entitled to a minimal level of expertise before offering a product?
 
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MarkusBarkus

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...I think I mostly align with your comments @Gregadd although I will say creativity and trial and error is a kind of R&D for big or small companies. But I get your point.

I guess we're always paying for materials, some of which costs more than others, and some value-add for design, creativity and the ability to pull it all together and get it to customers. That maps to market forces...what folks will pay.

I am continually amazed at what folks will pay for audiophile products. I'm amazed at what *I* have paid for audiophile products.

It's a little kooky, but at the end, it's all business: seeing a market and trying to work it. The counterfeiters just have a different business model, which the market supports, or it would go away.

I choose not to support that market, but people will make their decisions. I just won't have any sympathy if they cry if a fake is crappy. And selling it on once you know it's fake is extra-bad, in my book.
 
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andromedaaudio

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How do you tell? Say the pricey power cords, Dragon or Firebird HCs bought used.

Audioquest has a link on the website about filling a cumbersome form, generating a number, and sending it over to California, but I don’t think it’s working. I filled one last week but never heard back

Look its quit simple , just plug both in and listen , counterfit and original .
If you cant hear a difference , you were screwed.
 

plasmod3

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Aug 28, 2020
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I Agree about knockoffs (trademark infringement}. if you do not have a patent, your design has entered the public domain and is fair game.
I agree. But most of the more expensive cables are manufactured to their spec by oems and labelled with their own labels. A lot of the higher end manufacturers also deal directly with foundries to make their own specced cable. The moq there is huge so not for the smaller ones
 

mulveling

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Jul 7, 2017
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So here's a concrete example:
Just yesterday I was perusing used cables ads (looking for those bargains, lol), and saw a listing of WEL Signature XLR that looks very suspicious to me. Judging by ad photos, it's almost certainly a fake - but it would be hard to determine this without close familiarity to the legit item. Look at the tubing of the cable in ad, with diameter significantly smaller than its connector opening. Then look at my personal WEL XLR (over red rug), with visibly fatter tubing. This pair I purchased as demo model from an authorized AQ dealer, and also had it later split & re-terminated by AQ - so it's "doubly" guaranteed authentic. The real WEL IC is a very fat cable for an interconnect, because its internal air tubes are very large. This also causes a very significant "rattle" effect when tapped or disturbed. Next down in size is the Wild Blue Yonder (which I also own 2 example of); just slightly less fat than WEL. Then next down is the Fire, and finally Wind / Earth. The suspicious cable in ad looks more like a Wind size.

The suspected fake (also note its braid looks slightly different):
3949230-e0cc0ed7-audioquest-wel-signature-2m-analog-interconnect-pair-xlr.jpg

My authentic cable:
IMG_2246.png
 

microstrip

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I Agree about knockoffs (trademark infringement}. if you do not have a patent, your design has entered the public domain and is fair game.

I think that this does not apply to fakes. They sell cosmetics, not technical specs or measurable performance. They just fundamentally infringe copywright and trade marks.
 

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