With Pluto's recent demotion to dwarf status, there's confusion in our galaxy. There's even confusion closer to home. I recently was contacted by a gentleman who introduced himself as the new US importer for MeiXing/MingDa. Was I interested in reviewing their new baby integrated? He'd dutifully attached a photo and specs. Of the above.
Except that his was silk-screened MingDa, not Audio Space. And the pricing was quite different as well. When I asked whether this was an original product, he proudly confirmed it and went on to glowingly pitch the MeiXing brand. So I submitted the Audio Space photo of the Mini Galaxy 1 to express my serious doubts. Now he was dumbfounded. He'd never even heard of Audio Space (what planet was he from?). He did admit though that this indeed looked to be the same product. Needless to say, I never heard back from him.
All this by way of an appeal to our manufacturing friends in China. We understand about OEM and the non-disclosure agreements associated with it. But don't leave your chosen representatives in the dark. If they know less than a Western magazine publisher, it's embarrassing to say the least. It also queers a number of things.
Here at 6moons, we review product regardless of origin. But we have an obligation to our readers. What we review must be original product, not one of countless versions that are marketed under different names and for wildly disparate prices in the same bloody country.
China must understand that the current practice of uncontrolled OEM variants sold to just about anyone anywhere is seriously undermining its future prospects in the West. Consumers get furious when they discover the same product with a different badge for 40% less in a different store. Rightfully so. Importers feel betrayed when they're guaranteed a signed exclusive, represent the product accordingly to their dealers and then discover clear evidence to the contrary. Dealers get irate and blame the distributor. Exclusive means just what it says: to be the only portal for a particular product in a particular market. Just changing a name tag, chassis color or tube cage does not constitute new and different product the way we in the West understand things.
Adapt to this and get your act together. Do not pursue short-term greed as though America and Europe were the Wild West ripe for the raiding and fleecing. Otherwise publishers, reviewers, distributors, dealers and consumers will get more and more leery of touching anything Chinese to do with audio. And that, I firmly believe, would be a crying shame. At present, however, it's seems nearly the only tactic to avoid getting lied to and swindled. That's as clear as I can put it...
|Comments Alfie Lew of Gini Systems, the Audio Space distributor for the US
As the sole US distributor for Audio Space, I can assure you that the Mini Galaxy I is not being OEM'd, let alone by MeiXing/MingDa. Audio Space is one of the two largest tube gear designers/manufacturers in the Greater China region. It did not become the number one high-end tube audio electronics supplier to Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, Taiwan (and counting) by accident nor by doing dumb things as depicted in your article.
The Audio Space Mini Galaxy I debuted at T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas last January and is the first full-functioned mini integrated tube amp to feature an USB port with a built-in DAC. North American consumers should continue to buy Audio Space products with confidence because they are protected by our warranty and the Audio Space brand.
MeiXing/MingDa, on the other hand, is a tiny shop (about 10 people strong) in mainland China. Audio Space arguably is the best tube electronics designer/manufacturer in that region. Suffice to say that they are the prime target of copycats. All one has to do is look inside a MeiXing/MinDa gear to tell whether it's the real thing. Audio Space had previously worked with local Chinese authorities to have MeiXing/MingDa shut down for a while. Now they move around. I am surprised that the "importer" was dumb enough to pass this off as their own and thought that he could get away with it in the US.
I am in the process of working with Audio Space to gather some facts and evidence. I'll share that with you when we have more. At that point, we are likely to do a press release.