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Saturday, October 10, 2009

WJAAS - Audio Tekne: the best sound I ever heard?

Arrived after one hour Limited Express train from Tokyo at Hachioji station... took a taxi and arrived in 15 minutes to Imai-san's place!
As usual, the house was small and tidy, and when I entered the vestibule, I had, as always, the slippers ceremony swapping vs. putdoor shoes... aehm, sandals;-)

While entering the small room, Hironobu Imai-san, Imai's son and Tomiko Imai-sama, Imai's wife, both involved, as I learned and as per the superb Audio Tekne documentary I posted days ago, in handwiring, soldering and finishing of the AT products and welcomed me with hot green tea and fresh fruit... BUT I was there for Music!

Kyoiaki Imai-san entered shortly after, and, with another gentleman from Kyoto who offered superb traditional cookies, we began chatting, introducing to each other, in a serene, quiet environment, more a home than an audio salon.

After adapting the sight to the load (and price-tags near the amps and preamps on a shelf...) of the gears displayed, I noticed many framed pictures on the walls... hey, Lorenzo and Lidia Zen, my old time friend with his wife, the audio pusher where ALL began 30 years ago, for me and many, many others in my Country.

He was with Imai and his wife in traditional green kimono dressing... don't know why, but felt so proud to be italian, in good and evil.

On this very matter, many things talks and hints about Imai's family love for Italy its music, heritage, art and people.

La Scala theater, Cremona luthiery, these were the posters looking at me from the walls...

We began, shortly after, to listen to some classical piano music on the small Diatone speakers... not bad, relaxed and classy sound, BUT I'm accustomed to something better...

Then, after visting the small laboratory with a preamp on working bench, with paper protected chassis, Imai-san swapped speakers system to the A.L.E. drivers based, a froud ways horn system.

Suddently, music, with a VERY seldom heard liquidness, began to flow... easy, effortless, not loud or shouting, but, like at concert in a small room, the piano had proper size and notes decay, the air moved by the horns was simply, plainly said, "right".

No need to talk about cables, the (hideous) cost of Audio Tekne's 6-digits gears, the ugliness of the all carbon-block limited edition turntable.

Music, as life, is - in my humble opinion - a cost-no-object matter.

I was almost in tears, like I'm right now listening to a japanese prssing of Beethoven's Cello and piano sonatas (the nr. 2) by Janos Starker on Erato, paid a coffee price-tag in Tokyo.

What more may I say about Imai-san? The quiet proudness and knowledge of someone who produce by hand musical objects is self-explanatory... only music matters, he says.

We swapped some little gifts and cards, took pixes all together, in a very normal yet friendly way.

The lesson was absolutely clear: paint it green or yellow, but do your best to build an honest, well-made gears, with an holistic view: the final musical result at home of the wealthy music lover.

Then, like a kid, Imai-san took a rubber hammer and began to bang on the playing analog turntable;-)))

No feedback at all.

A bow, applauses, curtain.

Tomiko Imai-sama gifted me while of the door, while quitting after a great two hours music and meeting "for my wife"... and Hironobu Imai, after showing his recent marriage pixes - Airigato Gozaimasy, Hironobu-san - for sharing with me your joy;-)
brought me on his BMW to the station.

... re-open curtains, applauses!

The best sound I heard during my japanese trip, period.

See you all, Tomiko, Hironobu and Kiyoaki Imai-san(s);-) in Schio, at Lorenzo Zen's place, on next October 24th and 25th.

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