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Reviewer: Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; PS Audio PWD; Dr. Feickert Blackbird/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure NOS1 DAC [in for review]
Streaming sources:
XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR
Preamp/integrated/power: Tri TRV EQ3SE phonostage; Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); Yarland FV 34 CIIISA; Qables iQube V1; Devialet D-Premier; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One [in for review]; Trafomatic Reference Phono One [in for review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Vaessen Aquarius
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; Nanotec Golden Strada #79 nano 3; Nanotec Golden Strada #79; Nanotec Golden Strada #201; Nanotec Golden Strada #207 [in for review]
Power line conditioning: Omtec Power Controllers; PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; Commino Powerline Harmonizer H 3.1 [in for review]
Equipment racks: ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Sundry accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Nanotec Nespa #1; Exact Audio Copy software; iPod; wood, brass, ceramic and aluminum cones and pyramids; Shakti Stones; Manley Skipjack; Blue Horizon footers [in for review]
Music providers:,,
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Price of review item: ¥15,000 RCA terminated 1 meter (€120, $155), ¥16.500 XLR terminated 1 meter (€130, $170). Off the reel ¥1.500/m (€12, $16). Prices are approximate and don't include tax and shipping.

Nano-a-mano. Audio in Japan is no mere trifle and harmless hobby. It's treated as a very serious endeavor to get the best possible sound in the home. In the West we only get to see a very small portion of these efforts. When we do see a few examples, it's mainly in the form of printed magazines like Stereo Sound - hard to read but wonderful to ogle pictures of the most fascinating pieces of equipment. It's no coincidence that Japan is a much appreciated market for Western audio makers where so many critical customers look for the very best and aren't shy to pay for it.

Vice versa some Japanese makers cater not only to their domestic clientele but serve the rest of the world. Didn’t most of us start this hobby with examples of Japanese craftsmanship and ingenuity? Names like Denon, Nakamichi, Akai, Sony, Pioneer, Sansui and Yamaha recall instant images of black electronics with heaps of dials, knobs and spring-loaded speaker terminals. At the time they were all made in Japan. In the decades which followed much changed. General music appreciation became more personal and mobile. The equipment which facilitated that trend was often still designed in Japan but more and more often produced in China and other low-wage countries. A strong blow to the Japanese hegemony on hifi gear finally came from the US when the ‘i’ products emerged. Whilst developed in California with a strong design aesthetic influenced by groundbreaking German designer Dieter Rams of Braun fame, these products are manufactured by the literal millions in Chinese city factories.

Fortunately Japan's serious audio hobbyists didn't sell out. They kept their beliefs and high standards alive. They remain the motivators for new inventions and improvements of existing products. And their support has spawned a new kind of audio market not built on the idea that the sky is the limit but which wishes to provide music lovers with the best sounding gear at reasonable prices accessible to everyone. Of course the products of the late Kondo-San are fantastic but only cater to a very exclusive group of customers. Far more realistic for instance are the products of Shigeki-San under the banner of Yamamoto SoundCraft. There are many other such designers and brands which offer products designed and made with passion yet at realistic price points that still offer exceptional sound quality.