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hen we published the first interview from “The Editors” series on January 1st 2012, I assumed that I might be able to carry out seven or eight more conversations (HF | No. 92: Srajan Ebaen | Now we have the year 2018 and a total of twenty three interviews have been published during the five and a half years. The one that you are reading now is the twenty-fourth one. People representing the largest and most important audio magazines from all over the world, as well as those behind “tiny” magazines, often working on their own, talked about their careers, systems and musical passions.

Mr Yosuke (on the right) with the author of the interview – High End 2018 | Munich

This makes me proud and – let me put it this way – fulfilled, because I have met fantastic people and have been able to bring them closer to “High Fidelity” readers. As far as I know, this is the only such project in the world and no other audio magazine has ever even tried to present the portraits of journalists from our industry in such a comprehensive way.

However, I need to say that it has been bothering me for all these years that we are still looking at our industry mainly through the prism of the English and German languages, while we miss out an outlook from Asia. This is changing, thanks to the interview with Mr Yosuke Asada, the editor-in-chief of the “Net Audio” monthly magazine. As always, it is no coincidence – do you remember the test of the Telegärtner Japan Limited M12 Switch Gold LAN signal switch that was featured on the March cover of our monthly? The switch is being distributed by Marcin Ostapowicz and it is thanks to him that we can get to know Mr Asada-san (read more in the article devoted to the abovementioned test).

“Net Audio” belongs to Ongen Publishing Co., Ltd, established in May 1949 in Tokyo. Mr Kosei Wada is now its president. It publishes both regular magazines, such as the abovementioned “NET Audio”, “AV Review” and “Analog”, as well as those that come out irregularly, e.g. “Audio Accessory”.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Please tell us something about yourself.
YOSUKE ASADA: After graduating from university in 2006, I started working for Ongen Publishing. That means I have been working here for 12 years and I am 34 years old now. I like the sound of vinyl records and the only reason I applied for a job with this company was that they published books about the analogue.

There is more than that – the magazines that Ongen Publishing produces are: “Audio Accessory”, “Analog” and “Net Audio”, as well as “Cable Complete Collections” which specializes in cables and “Power and Accessories Complete Collections” (both are quite unique on a global scale). In other words, I would say, we are an “ultra-maniac group” of editors that cannot be found anywhere else in the world!

Apart from being the editor of “Net Audio” that this interview relates to, I am also the editor-in-chief of the “Analog” magazine. When it comes to our remaining audio magazines, I work as an editorial supervisor who manages their whole content and, at the same time, as an executive officer for audio-related sections.

Please tell us something more about the “Net Audio” magazine –how it started, what it is about, what its focus is.
I did a few other things before I started publishing “Net Audio” which focuses on state-of-the-art digital audio. I had been interested in computer audio since I was in a band and worked as a DJ. At that time, Pro Tools recording was already mainstream in the field of professional audio and most DJs were using laptops. So, computers and files were necessary for creating music. I think that today’s computer-based audio originated at that time.

However, the Japanese audio industry at that time never accepted the computer as a playback device. Nobody even attempted to bring it to an audio room. Why? Because it was thought that computers generate noise. Thus, only a few people could handle software. That is why we started a project in “Audio Accessory” (our branch magazine) to show people how to obtain good sound from a computer. Actually, this project was the predecessor of “Net Audio”.

“Net Audio” was launched as a magazine in 2010. Some time earlier, the Linn company introduced its DS file players and Japanese audio fans became dramatically more aware of the possibility of playing music files. The slogan: “You can get signal beyond the CD quality” was very attractive for audio fans at that time.

The two main themes of “Net Audio” are: “everything for music” and “the cutting edge”. Since its first publication in 2010, although the basic concept has remained the same, the content has changed a little. Let me tell you a few words about that.

At the beginning, we focused on the essentials of computer audio – what we published resembled a user guide. It was especially important in Japan, as not everyone here can understand English and thus the available information was limited. So, we explained everything step by step: how to download and then set up applications, such as foobar2000 or Audirvana Free.

Of course, we valued reviews of attractive products, but our main aim was to become an “interface” for our readers in order to introduce products that they had never had contact with before. We have maintained this assumption until now. In short, in the initial phase of the magazine we focused on making our readers more aware of “how to enjoy the music”.

After computer audio had become common among Japanese music lovers, they became interested in technical specifications. Thanks to the UK’s iFi Audio support, we could propose DSD 256 files, which are mainstream now, as a sound source for everyone interested, as a supplement of our magazine. I think our DSD256 recordings were one of the first in the world.

Having said that, let me add that every issue of “Net Audio” contains a disc with high resolution files as a supplement. So, if you want to begin your adventure with computer audio, buy a “textbook” called “Net Audio”, and enjoy high quality sound immediately. In other words, we focus on letting users “experience" the “cutting edge”.

Today, the content of our magazine has expanded – apart from our two basic concepts, i.e. “how-to-enjoy” and “experience”, we propose focusing on “technology and sound” in order to help our readers assess audio equipment. Of course, we explain the basic structure of a DAC, describe its technical specifications and the given company’s approach to the product, but, besides that, our main focus now is on more comprehensively describing the value of products and software, e.g. software algorithms or its usability.

In terms of technological innovation, we cannot miss new solutions that are attracting worldwide attention and new technologies, such as MQA. In other words, “Net Audio” is a medium that is never conservative, but highly values “fun” and new music.

What does the work of Japanese audio magazines consist in? I mean, how do you do tests?
When it comes to Japanese audio magazines, measurable technical data is very highly valued, which is probably obvious, but there is a tendency to think that those “excellent” specs are a major premise and the most crucial element is sound. So, we spend a lot of time on listening tests. Depending on the product, such a test can even take about a month.

In addition to it, it is also important who writes the review of a given product. It is not only about finding the best reviewer but also knowing someone who has a taste that is different from ours. It is common in Japanese audio magazines nowadays that sound is more important than numbers and measurements, but perhaps this may seem unique to people from other countries.

How does the Japanese audio market differ from the Western audio market?
I think the Japanese audio market is quite unique. First of all, because of the language itself. For example, it is difficult to write a Japanese music title in English. An imported music record, in turn, comes with a unique “Japanese title” besides its original English title. As such, languages make things complicated and thus we are actually lagging behind in the field of streaming, compared to the rest of the world. Another unique feature of the Japanese market is that users edit the metadata of their files themselves, based on their own rules.

There is still also a strong tendency among Japanese audio fans to consider CDs and SACDs as the main source of music. When I go abroad, I am often asked why the Japanese like DSD so much. Basically, this is because they are keen on knowing technical specifications and their implications. Japan has been competing in the field of technology for a long time. The Japanese may be very proud of technology created by domestic companies, such as SONY, and that could be one of the reasons why they choose discs, perhaps.

However, as I have mentioned, there are a lot of music lovers looking for “sound beyond the disc”. Although the computer world is global, the Japanese market is unique in this respect because of its language. Perhaps because of that there is place for “Net Audio”. People want a magazine that focuses on computer audio and kind of shows the uniqueness of our country.

Do you believe that the musical taste of the Japanese differs from the musical taste of people from the West?
In terms of sound, I think the notion of “good sound” is shared by music lovers representing both the contemporary Japanese audio domain and other countries. It can be proved by the fact that, for instance, Accuphase products, as well other Japanese brands, have been highly appreciated by audiophiles from all over the world. I personally think that the most important trend characteristic for new audio devices is the tendency to put emphasis on resolution in order to describe the finest sound details – most Japanese brands are no exception in this respect.

On the other hand, it is a bit different when it comes to music. In Japan, there are music cultures such as J-POP, Anime songs and old-style 1970s pop songs. Although Japan has become a mature market that can absorb music from all over the world, I feel that most people still prefer listening to domestic music. Its unique character may also be manifested in the way sound is “built”.

I think there is a kind of domestic “sound-making” style based on Japanese music that people are familiar with. You may hear this “unique Japanese sound” while listening to pop songs from the 1960s and 70s. The special shape given to sound by the Japanese is manifested even by the way reverb or guitar sound is added, for example.

Is there anything really exciting about computer audio now?
Digital audio has evolved quickly in the last five years. The only reason for this high speed is the need to integrate audio with IT. It is like a dream come true for music fans to be able to listen to their favourite songs as often as they like from a huge cloud library, accessed thanks to a subscription. Of course, we still need to consider the sound quality that a subscription ensures. What is more, services like TIDAL and Qobuz have not been introduced in Japan yet.

On the other hand, streaming services such as IIJ (Internet Initiative Japan – a communications infrastructure provider) and Korg are available in our country. They kind of symbolize the typically Japanese “spec” supremacy. I personally think that collaboration between Roon and TIDAL is also quite exciting. As a subscription gives a subscriber access to the songs that they want, I first thought it would be challenging to provide an opportunity for users to get to know new music. However, the software can help us appreciate music by giving us access to biographies, etc. (the unique Japanese language could be a problem again here… but it is another story).

Please tell us about your audio system
In our company listening room, our main players and amplifiers are all Accuphase. We have the TAD-E1 speakers, while the MONITOR AUDIO PL2000II and the B&W 803D3 will join them soon. We have WIREWORLD, SAEC, THE CHORD COMPANY, etc. cables – lots of varieties. When it comes to computer audio, I mainly use Roon or Audirvana Plus 3, and a fidata server as a reference.

This listening test setup can be changed according to the preferences of the reviewer and, in some cases, the reviewer sets up their own system to be used as a reference. The system in the photo that we sent is the basic setup at our office, which I use to do system checks, etc. Today I was testing the MSB TECHNOLOGY Reference DAC.

At home, I have built my system with the room size in mind. After being sent by Roon installed on a Macbook, signal goes to an RME DAC and then to the SONY TA-DR1 integrated amp which is connected to the ELAC FS248 speakers that I have been using for many years. I mainly use Acoustic Revive cables. My desktop system consists of the GENELEC 6010A speakers and the iFi Audio micro iDSD BL DAC. This desktop system is mainly used for listening at low volume at night. Because my child is still small, I cannot turn the volume up at night :)

As you can see in the photo, there is also the LINN LP12 turntable on the top of the rack. Actually, as I mentioned at the beginning of this interview, I really like vinyl. In the end, I am the editor-in-chief of both “Net Audio” and “Analog”. Both digital and analogue audio keep evolving, but it is very interesting that both aim to reach the same level.

Please tell us what 10 music albums “High Fidelity” readers should listen to now (and why).
I have tried to pick them up mainly from high-resolution files. Some of them are my favourite ones, some are characterized by good sound quality and some are Japanese-style. Some of the songs can only be downloaded in Japan, but most of them are sold on CDs with the same cover art.

LEGEND: ALBUM/artist (details)

BROWN SUGAR, D'Angelo (Virgin | 192 kHz/24 bit)

As everyone knows, it is D'Angelo's debut album. It is enough to say that he started the neo soul movement. I love this kind of emotions and even the intro itself makes me excited. It was originally released in 1995 and there is something “hi-fi-ish” about this piece of American music. By the way, 1995 is the digital era and I wonder why they made it in a high-resolution audio. But the musical content is way too excellent to care about it.

Access HERE

UNITY, Kyoto Jazz Sextet, (Blue Note | 96 kHz/24 bity)

The album has been produced by Shuya Okino, a world-famous Japanese DJ, and it is an analogue recording! There is a vinyl version as well, but the high-resolution one is awesome. I think that the sound of each instrument: the piano, horn section and bass comes straight from the soul, and this album perfectly shows the “relation between high-resolution digital and analogue audio” in its best form. Tomoki Sanders, the son of Pharoah Sanders, as well as Navasha Daya, the niece of Gil Scott-Heron, participated in this project. Their contribution cannot be missed! By the way, all albums produced by Mr Okino are really cool.

Access HERE

SHIFT, Logan Richardson (Blue Note | 96 kHz/24 bit)

An important debut album of a trumpeter who lives in Paris. The reverb characteristic for this record is sort of melancholic and different from the image of France that the Japanese normally hold. Actually, the reverb is useful for an S/N check in an audio system. Pat Metheny and Jason Moran took part in the recording and the performance is excellent. The whole album seems to suggest where jazz is heading, giving birth to its new era, different from the music of Robert Glasper and other artists.

Access HERE

SILENT NOTES, J.A.M (Victor Studio HD-Sound. | 96 kHz/24 bity)

A “spin-off” unit formed by Akita Goldman (bass), Midorin (drums), and JOSEI (piano). They normally perform all over the world as Oil & “Pimp” Sessions. It is a modern recording characterized by a broad range but it also has a hidden nostalgic feeling somewhere and it is really good. The deep piano sound, perfectly captured at the Victor Studio, is also very attractive. I think that a kind of Japanese atmosphere can be felt in the last song on this album – Alone. A world-famous flamenco guitar player, Jin Oki, participated in recording this track.

Access HERE

BON TEMPS, Ann Sally (Song X Jazz | 16/44,1)

A completely analogue album recorded at STUDIO Dede – the same studio in which the KYOTO JAZZ SEXTET recorded their music. I think that all albums recorded at STUDIO Dede are great – no exceptions! The album I am talking about is filled with unique attractiveness that you will not find anywhere else – it kind of mixes songs from all over the world. Of course, the main listening point here is the vocalist’s outstanding singing skill! I think it is not easy to find such a good singer like her in Japan.

Access HERE

"ESPECIAL" LIVE @ PRAÇA 11 Special Edition, Nobie “Especial” band (amp'box | DSD128)

A live album of the Nobie Especial Band led by the Japanese female vocalist Nobie, released by the amp’box label which specializes in high-resolution live recordings. Listen to the bonus track Tombo in 4/7 (Up Tempo) and you will experience an incredible sense of unity with the audience! This record has convinced me that “hi-fi recordings should sound like this” – it is such a miraculous album. Japanese people like Brazilian music so much!

Access HERE

JAZZ AT THE PAWNSHOP, Arne Domnerus (2xHD | DSD256)

It is an album quite well-known as hi-fi, but here it is recorded in 2xHD quality. Its brilliant sound is just indispensable for system checks. The piece entitled Take Five is especially impressive… It is “top of the top” sound and performance. I have bought several 2xHD albums and I think all of them are good in terms of sound.

Access HERE

THE FOUR SEASONS, Antonio Vivaldi, by The Quartet Four Seasons (Una Mas | 192 kHz/24 bit)

The album has been recorded by Mick Sawaguchi of UNA MAS – a high-quality record label from Japan – and it is characterized by Yoichi Tsuchiya’s unique arrangement, as well as a very interesting approach to music. All the musicians are in their twenties. Their vibrant performance is perfectly captured thanks to Mr Sawaguchi’s sense of recording. The venue where the material was recorded was the Oga Hall in Karuizawa which has a good reputation for providing beautiful sound reverberation. What is interesting, there had been a record-breaking heavy snowfall before the recording took place and it was possible to achieve an astonishing S/N ratio. This album is miraculous thanks to a combination of a few factors and it is worth listening to.

Access HERE

SONGS - 40th Anniversary Ultimate Edition <2015 REMIX>, Sugar BABE (Warner Bros Japan | 48 kHz/24 bit)

If we want to talk about City Pop, we need to get to know this album. Its remastered 2015 version is also wonderful. At that time, I was listening to only one song entitled Kyo wa nandaka (Feel something different today), but even such a small sample let me realize how great the whole album is. It was originally released on a CD and now it is available as 48 kHz/24, so in the same form as it was recorded, which shows that the label takes care of such details. I think this album has shown me again that the way music is created is more important than “numbers”.

Access HERE

倭人傳 WAJIN-DEN, 海援隊 Kaientai (Universal Music Japan | 96 kHz/24 bit)

Kaientai is a band led by the actor Tetsuya Takeda. Normally, this band would represent “standard pop for youth” but the song entitled JODAN JODAN that is part of the album is an example of real Japanese disco! I wonder why this album has been remastered in 96kHz/24bit quality. Perhaps the person in charge was quite aware of the record’s hidden magnetism. I would say this is a brilliant remastering piece, incorporating an amazing range of capacity and knowledge.

Access HERE

Greetings to all “High Fidelity” readers!


  • DANIEL BREZINA | HIFI-VOICE.COM, CZECH, editor-in-chief (Šéfredaktor), see HERE
  • EDGAR KRAMER | „Audio Esoterica”, AUSTRALIA, editor-in-chief, see HERE
  • MICHAEL LAVORGNA, „AudioStream”, USA, editor-in-chief, see HERE
  • MICHAEL LANG, “Stereo”, GERMANY, managing editor (Geschäftsführender Redakteur), see HERE
  • SRIDHAR VOOTLA, “”, INDIA, journalist, see HERE
  • SCOT HULL, “Part-Time Audiophile”, USA, editor-in-chief, see HERE
  • ART DUDLEY, “Stereophile”, USA, editor-at-large, see HERE
  • HELMUT HACK, “Image Hi-Fi”, GERMANY, managing editor, see HERE
  • DIRK SOMMER, „”, GERMANY, chief editor, see HERE
  • MARJA & HENK, „”, SWITZERLAND, journalists, see HERE
  • CHRIS CONNAKER, “Computer Audiophile”, USA, founder/chief editor, see HERE
  • MATEJ ISAK, "Mono & Stereo”, chief editor/owner, SLOVENIA/AUSTRIA; see HERE
  • Dr. DAVID W. ROBINSON, "Positive Feedback Online", USA, chief editor/co-owner; see HERE
  • JEFF DORGAY, “TONEAudio”, USA, publisher; see HERE
  • CAI BROCKMANN, “FIDELITY”, GERMANY, chief editor; see HERE
  • STEVEN R. ROCHLIN, “Enjoy the”, USA, chief editor; see HERE
  • STEPHEN MEJIAS, “Stereophile”, USA, assistant editor; see HERE
  • MARTIN COLLOMS, “HIFICRITIC”, GREAT BRITAIN, publisher and editor; see HERE
  • KEN KESSLER, “Hi-Fi News & Record Review”, GREAT BRITAIN, senior contributing editor; see HERE
  • MICHAEL FREMER, “Stereophile”, USA, senior contributing editor; see HERE
  • SRAJAN EBAEN, “”, SWITZERLAND, chief editor; see HERE