Those three letters need no translation.
They just need to be aimed. Today it's at the not uncommon—and plainly justified—perception that China often plays fast and loose when it comes to copying the work of others. But what to say when it's a Chinese firm with German collaborators who really should know better? As Anssi Hyvönen of Amphion put it whom I questioned as soon as I ran across this Cayin product, "our industry is not doing that well. These types of things aren't exactly boosting morale and innovation. The Western world can never compete with China and India on labour costs. We must keep on innovating. If we cannot do that, we are dead here. China is China. The fact that in this case a German company is involved is something very very questionable." Agreed!

The underlined German Cayin text translates to "possible customization includes coloured grills for the mid/woofer in light blue, red, violet, toxic green and black". Given how exactly that accessorizing scheme has always been a part of Amphion's industrial design, there can be little doubt about just how intentional the general likeness here is.

The 'this' in this case is Cayin's new A6 speaker model above which prompted the following conversation on September 9th, between Cayin and a person acting on his own initiative without ties to or solicitation from Amphion. "I saw that your Cayin speakers are a spitting image of speakers. Why would you challenge them with an inferior product that is clearly an infringement of their copyright? Do you want to be a company that does that?" To which Thomas Deyerling of Cayin Audio Distribution GmBH of Glashütten-Schlossborn replied: "Hi, ours is a completely different design, size, technical specs, even looks. What do you want?" Not leaving it there, he went on to to say that, "who knows, maybe they (Amphion) have copied the original Cayin design and our website design? Or they even get their speakers from the same Chinese supplier and use the same Word Press website template? Or is it just a coincidence? This is all so irrelevant, I can't see any reason to discuss it any more."

It's this second part of the reply which demonstrates outrageous ignorance. Amphion is one of the few European companies who make most everything they can locally. As Amphion explained it to me, "the Association of Finnish Work—clumsy name by the way—has performed a pretty detailed audit on the production process and local content of Amphion end product. In our case, the local content on average was found to be 81% Finnish. As proof of that, the product can be sold with the Avainlippu (Finnish key flag) symbol. In today’s world, a manufacturer can claim lot of things. In our particular case, this is fully certified by an external oversight agency that our guys below actually make the product in Kuopio, Finland."

Do these guys look like Chinese subcontractors?

Anssi continued: "I would appreciate any attention brought into this matter by the global audio press to hopefully create a bit of discussion on the subject. I really think that we should try to safeguard, support and cherish the innovations which small companies like Amphion come up with by putting considerable amounts of resources into R&D. Laws and lawyers are for large companies. Securing global patents or trademarks for example is too expensive for us to be viable. Hence ideas are free prey for those whose R&D budget is kept lean and mean by copying the work of others with just minor changes to claim a difference. Everybody can evaluate for themselves whether they agree with Mr. Deyerling that theirs "is a completely different design, size, technical specs, even looks.” Everybody understands that things like this don't happen by accident. Unfortunately it is quite typical behaviour in mainland China. When I was forwarded the original Cayin mailing on their new product, I asked if our distributors knew anything about it. Their answer? "We cannot do anything as this is just common sense in the Chinese market. Every product can be copied once it has become famous."

"Shortening R&D times with blatant copying might be common sense in China indeed but my real question is, should we allow it to become common sense also in the West? Despite of incidents like this, we continue to believe in pushing the envelope and allocating substantial amounts of our resources for R&D to allow people to experience the beauty of music in all its glory. Even if Cayin Audio Distribution GmbH seems to be a legitimate German entity, I am afraid that trying to fight people with such a “what do you want” attitude would be wasted money and energy. Legal battles are for big companies. For us small ones, the only way forward is to keep innovating and hope that customers are interested in getting the original instead of the copy. The only thing that will hopefully make innovation-challenged companies think twice before copying is that our small and relatively close-knit audiophile community discusses such issues openly. I do not think anybody wants to become known as a blatant copycat. Hence public discussions around incidents like this ultimately steer companies towards pursuing their own ideas. Implying that we have copied Cayin is absolutely outrageous. Anybody who has any knowledge about the business or any decency in general would not pen such nonsense prior to doing some time-line research on the look of our designs over the years."

The real deal.

Indeed. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Amphion needn't even visit their website to confirm Cayin's unhappy external cloning involved. Whether you see green for happy recycling, red for bio hazard—hinted at with the symbols of the above header—or simply wonder, what the fuck... that I'll leave up to you. I know what I think. Coincidence? Hell no!