Proving that more expensive is not always better, a $25 "value" stereo system has obliterated $1,000 equipment from Sony and JVC in a British customer choice award as voted on by 500,000 people.
The system was a Tesco Value MC-907—16.49 British pounds—a small compact stereo that was pitted against several other models. It got a 9.3 out of ten in the Reevoo Customer Choice Awards 2009. For comparison, systems like the JVC EK-10—costing $982—scored 8 out of ten, while a similar Sony going for $1,111 got 8.6. While you won't find the Tesco in US stores, I'm sure it's just a generic chinese box that is also available here (in fact, if you can identify it, please tell us).
Clearly, a customer choice awards is not exactly a scientific listening test. However, given the scope of the survey, there's clearly a pattern here. The fact is that many of these machines—and even more expensive systems—are manufactured at the same factories in Asia. If you go to a tech fair in China, you will have two versions: One made for foreigners, with brand equipment. The other—which often is celebrated after the first—is for internal markets, and features the same exact equipment with no brand, for a fraction of the price.