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Monday, March 16, 2009

WJAAS - Western Japanese Audio Appreciation Society - the cartridges legacy & the noblest heritage.

I know... Ortofon, Decca, Stanton, Shure, Neumann, EMT, Benz, Van Den Hul are not Eastern or Japanese brand names (also if some of the above mentioned are, or have been, produced in Japan)... BUT there REALLY is something special in Japanese artisans and hands... they've been able to infuse something special in their careful, sometimes freaky, sometimes, maybe always upmarket creations... from Sugano-san (Koetsu), Ikeda-san (Fidelity Research and Ikeda), to Kikuchi-san (Lumiere), Osawa-san (Osawa), Miyajima-san (Otono Edison/Miyajima Labs), Mr. Su Park (ALLNIC's Verito - well, he's from South-Korea, actually, but it's my pleasure to add him in this noble lineage) and to the several unknown, great, humble men who, in their too often overcrowded, tiny workshops, produces little masterpieces able to extract the tiniest details from our beloved vinyls, the Soul of Music.
I recently received from the always friendly hands of my friend Seo Hisashi-san a couple of hand-made little, amazingly well made cartridges: a mono wooden/brass bodied and a stereo one, both with extremely powerful magnets, very near to cantilever and diamond, with low impedance BIG coils and naked, sans-body/nude-look...
Beside their look, where you can appreciate the great miniature job Osawa-san made with his double magnifying lenses, pliers and GREAT, Zen-like patience, you should be here to appreciate the sound, the soul, the air, the trueness, the embarassing high quality which makes other BIG-BUCKS cartridges to sound like broken, el-cheapos disco cartridges!
When I received the two cartridges I left them to rest after the long trip from Japan for a couple weeks - my laziness knows zillions ways to hide & seek itself;-))) - so, I borrowed a glass bell-like dome from my wife shelves and left it in sight, mounted on an RS-3 KimuraLabs Rotary headshell... few days ago, I felt me strong enough for my task... like a Brunello di Montalcino or a Sassicaia's left to breath before tasting, slightly worried and sweaty, I set-up the Osawa's stereo... and, Holy Shit!!!!!
I love lively cartridges, not too spikey, not too middy, not too bassy... BUT having right weight, proportions, air and a sense of effortless liquidness only "here" in live music.
Well... hyperboles or not... as I'm quite familiar with great sounding cartridges since my teens, I simply wasn't prepared to the greatness I experienced and tasted for several untiring, amazing records sides.
Every player in a string quartet - also in Philips sometimes neutral, dry recordings - owns his own air bubble, you can hear at the viola or violin movements during performance in front of mikes... also seldom heard clothes rubbing on instruments, mostly from cello player... a Quartetto Italiano recording I own since I had no greyish hairs and short trousers simply revamped to a new life;-)
Rich, true, lively... words are not apt to describe the level of involvement I experienced and enjoyed! Thanks a lot, Osawa-san... you made Something special: a Time Machine, a Soul Magnifying EarLens for Music, not merely an audio gear or a transducer!
... and thanks a lot to you too, Seo-san!

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