Counterfeit Chips

How would one determine if they bought a counterfeit CEM3379 or SSM or whatever. I programmed the Atmel chip and tested on the SMR-4 board I assembled, first. I then connected the same control board to the CEM board I assembled and I DO get sound and everything seems fine. But I’m working on the assumption that a counterfeit chip wouldn’t work at all. I’m not sure if this is the case. Oh and sorta off topic, but is it me or do NTE chips suck. I bought a couple for some oscillators and other things I’m trying to do and they look horrible. First of all, you can tell that some of the chips were re-labeled, since the original labeling was etched in, but they just tried to print over it (not such a big deal, but it feels wrong) and worse some of the chips labeling looks like it was smeared on. The top of the chip is bumpy and shiny at some points and dull at others. Do people usually avoid these chips? Does it matter if it works? I’ve seen alot of posts in other forums where people often describe differences between, for example a 555 made by one company vs another. Any thoughts?

Here’s a picture of my CEM3379 I posted on tumblr.

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What’s sure: the whole NTE concept is crap and the fact that they do not use standard part numbering is trash.

Regarding counterfeit chips: the whole idea sounds tempting to us because we’re in the markets for such chips and love them, but to the average chinese counterfeit chip operation, this doesn’t look like the best target. There are more expensive chips (microcontroller, high-precision op-amp) which are way, way easier to sell than CEMs or SSMs. From what I have seen, “counterfeits” chips are either packages without anything electrical happening inside, relabeled crap like logic gates, or chips that did not pass QA.

When trying to source SSM2044s I occasionally encountered people who were ready to sell me SSM2044s with a 09+ datecode - which sounds very fishy and is likely to be a “we will print you whatever you want to see on a DIP16 package” scam. If I had money to spend I’ll give it a try just to write a fun article about what kind of junk this hides…

I’ve ordered CEM3379s and SSM2044s from obscure but legit-looking sources recently and the worse I got were funky SSM2044s (one of them did not self-oscillate even with a high resonance CV, the other had a horrible DC offset) ; and another batch in which all the chips worked but had some variance in the sound. It might have been because it came from a stock of chips that had manufacturing problems, but it could be also because those chips were sold by surplus dealers who got them from someone who got them from someone who got them from the guy who stored them in a crappy warehouse…