It seems like fake or counterfeit products offered for sale on eBay go through seasons or current flavors-of-the-month. Let me explain what I mean: for the longest time, anything Ralph Lauren was likely to be of dubious origin and yes, I have a few "Blake" shirts with unreasonably short arms. High fashion means high mark-ups in any retail environment and as a result, those items leave themselves open as targets for copying. Electronics, especially those associated with MP3 players are a ripe market for this as well. Try buying Sennheiser CX300 earphones and you'll see; there are zillions of non-Senns items out there though not all of them are bad products. They just aren't Sennheiser and it's pretty hard to tell which is which before the purchase. This all gets even more problematic when you consider that most, if not all the major name brand items are being manufactured in an OEM (original equipment manufacturing) environment. The "copy" you bought MAY have been made in the same factory as the real thing and sold on through a shady, back door set of circumstances. Or not. Or perhaps the same product gets badged as something that no one's heard of in the West but still looks and often functions (or not) like a product costing much more. It's a quagmire and I'm not hip enough on the OEM factories to be much use to you other than to pass on my very recent experience swimming in that murky pond.
I was looking for a good-sounding set of closed headphones for some home studio work. I'm one of these blokes who really likes Chinese hi-fi and I regularly troll the eBay stores of Asia-based sellers of electronics. I had bid on a Shanling CD player (didn't win it tho) from one seller and upon searching his other store items, came across these very interesting looking headphones that seems to be pretty good value, with features that I was looking for. They are MEKY DJ83s, made in China by the iLike Electronics Co. Have a look on Google. The model 83 has been renamed but they are still on the iLike webpage in some form.
So I bought them, they arrived and sound really fabulous for the little $$$ I spent. No wait: they sound fabulous full-stop. A bit tight for my fat head but....So I think to myself that I should probably buy a second set (they are that good) and I cannot find them anywhere on eBay. So I just start cruising through all the closed headphones in the DJ category and WOW-ZEE-WOW, I see a zillion pairs just like my MEKYs (SAME pics, same poses, same camera angles) only all these, and mean every bloody one, is being sold as a Pioneer HDJ-1000 with Pioneer written on the same packaging as my MEKYs arrived in....for much much more $$$. Smelling a rat, I did a quick look at the Feedback assessments for some of the sellers of the "Pioneer" headphones and see one buyer in Aus who'd bought the headphones assuming them to be Pioneers and was complaining that they were not authentic, even though he did say in his Feedback comments that the cans he'd bought still sounded very good. I had a few emails with him (a good bloke) and we come to the same conclusion: the headphones in question were doubtlessly manufactured in the same place and are in fact the same cans with different names, his non-authentic Pioneers and my MEKYs. A quick trip to my local music store ensued, and upon seeing a set of so-called authentic Pioneer HDJ-1000s for 10x the price I paid for my MEKYs, I'm even more convinced. I did have a listen to the Pioneers in the shop (dead on identical sound signature to my MEKYs) though the 'real' Pioneers had a few different features (independent R/L volume control) that could easily be an OEM modification at the factory.
Now let's be clear on one thing: Pioneer is a big name and I'm probably risking a nasty law suit by even suggesting that they have their HDJ-1000s made by iLike...so I'm NOT suggesting that at all. Really. What I am suggesting is that it is possible to buy really great products that in some situations COULD seem to be copies of something else. I didn't go looking to buy Pioneers HDJ-1000s; I bought the MEKYs after seeing them offered in an eBay store and just doing a search to read-up on the OEM activities of iLike and it's associate brands. I was very happily surprised by what I had bought.
The moral here Dear Reader? Caveat emptor. Know your stuff before buying anything and try to have a pre-sale agreement with the vendor allowing returns. Most of the sellers I've dealt with are reasonable and very few, in my opinion, are really trying to rip-off the buyers. Stores just don't stay around for long if they do that. Good luck and God Bless.
Pioneer HDJ-1000: my experience with a knock-off fave.
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18 June 2008
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