Land of the rising sun

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Not more than a few weeks ago I returned from a great trip to Japan where I toured multiple cities and high-end audio dealers. I put together a ten-minute video you might enjoy. Click here to play it.

We know the high-end audio industry is in a state of flux—many suggest it’s being turned upside down by major changes: the way products are sold, the companies that are coming and going, and certainly the internet. Japan seems no different. Where once Japan was the far east Mecca for ultra expensive high-end products, I have noticed a clear shift to the more affordable.

Most of the uber-expensive products I saw at dealers were in their used equipment departments.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the Japanese penchant for perfection and their obsession with simplicity. The last dealer I visited while in Osaka had the simplest of all systems but it sounded the best by far—a single pair of Magico S1 (their little 2-way), Spectral power amp, DirectStream DAC, MIT cables. He had followed all the rules of good setup I would have recommended—the rule of thirds, diffusion through absorbers and diffusers—but one was missing. No subwoofer. In fact, I don’t think I saw the likes of even one subwoofer while over there.

You know me, I can’t resist offering up an opinion—not when everything else in the setup is so correct. When I asked him why no subwoofer (through our interpreter), he just smiled and put on Telarc’s 1812 Overture. Indeed, I was surprised at how well it sounded—especially with only a 2-way. Only…the canons were still pale representations of the real deal.

He shrugged his shoulders in a way that I understood. Though neither of us spoke the other’s language, I knew he was telling me it was perfect for him.

Indeed. I could have lived with that system for a good long time.