About Nippon Hifi

Nippon Hifi is the sole agent of Soul Note products in Europe.

Also we do Thorens, London, Pear Audio Analogue and PureAudioProject importing in Finland.

Soul Note products have been designed to give you unparalleled music quality. This is made possible thanks to over 50 years of Japanese engineering expertise. Non-negative feedback design in amplifiers brings out the true benefit of such a listening experience – one that is natural, transparent, and pure.

How Soulnote Began

soulnote

Background History

One cannot talk about the history of Soulnote without mentioning the passion of one man, a Japanese gentleman named Nakazawa, President of CSR. His contribution to the growth of SoulNote can only be described as legendary…

The history of Soulnote begins with the passion of one man, CSR President Nakazawa.

It all started right after graduating from University. President Nakazawa joined Standard Radio Corporation, a company involved in the development of amateur and professional wireless products and radio equipment. Back then, his first assignment was that of Research and Development (R&D) engineer. He was responsible for developing quite a number of revolutionary innovations that changed how we listen to music: he developed then the high-tech cassette tape recorder as well as the player, during the dawn of the digital age in 1982.

nakazawa

These “milestones” in his career can best be described as revolutionary. I seemed, however, that he was destined for greater things

In 1971, US-owned SUPERSCOPE, part owner of US-company, Marantz, bought a 50% stake in standard Radio Corporation. Under the new venture, Standard Radio was tasked to manage R&D of low-to-mid class compo and hifi receivers. Apart from this, it was likewise the sole distributor in Japan. It also transferred most of the manufacturing operations there.

A few years after the digital age began, in 1975, Standard Radio Corporation changed its name to Marantz Japan Inc. In 1980, SUPERSCOPE sold some of its overseas assets to the Netherlands’ Philips Corporation. The sale likewise included the intellectual property rights and sales division of Marantz Japan Inc. The deal witnessed Philips Audio elevating the low-to-mid class status of Marantz products to a premium level. In turn, Marantz was given full access to various technologies within Philips’ arsenal.

One of the fruits of this partnership between the two audio brands was Marantz first CD player, CD63, was fielded to the global market. Instrumental in its development was no less than Nakazawa.

Under the new partnership, Nakazawa continued to thrive in his development work. He came up with such great products as the Philips LHH100, the world’s first 2-body CD player back in 1988. LHH500, the World first bit stream CD Player (1Bit) in 1989 … AV1000, the World first standalone AV controller & power amplifier (2 bodies) in 1989 … LHH800R, the World first Non-NFB CD Player in 1993 and LHH A700 Non-NFB power amplifier in 1994 ..just to name a few. To aid in coming up with such innovations, Mr. Nakazawa likewise coined a few slogans for product development. These include:

“ To develop the ‘World first’, products”,

“ To develop the products that can deliver good quality to customers”.

When the world witnessed the boom in M&A of big enterprises during the years 2000 till 2006, Marantz, Japan, Inc. left the consolidation with Philips. While the company struggled to survive at first, this move eventually led to the founding of Denon as a business partner, who also left Nippon Columbia and sold its take to the paper company. The US investment fund company Ripplewood Holdings LLC formed new Denon. They were all part of an umbrella group of the newly formed D&M Holdings, Inc. via stock transfer in 2002.

Unfortunately, the change in ownership placed a strain on the new company’s working environment. With its investment company closely watching the “bottomline”, production efficiency rather than sound quality, was the top priority. The question posed to Mr Nakazawa and his team was what was more important, quality and integrity or financial gain? The answer was crystal clear: quality and integrity.

Mr. Nakazawa once said that he had a wish to come up with a company to develop dream products for customers. This meant creating a “free from M&A risk” type of business, to develop products by engineers having the freedom without having being compromised by time and what is known is business circles as “bean counters” (financial constraints). In 2004 when management were desperately looking for clues on whether this M&A was the right decision during a Post Merge Integration meeting, Mr. Nakazawa decided to move for a Management Buy-Out, together with engineers who shared the same beliefs and passion. Thus, a number of quality engineers (around fifty) followed Mr. Nakazawa to his new organization.

The new company became known as the first Listed company in the Tokyo Stock Exchange, going under the name of the newly-formed CSR, Inc. Mr. Nakazawa saw his role as one who was there to help fulfill the desires of customers, as well as acting as a support to realize the dreams of the engineers in CSR, Inc. Thus, the brand, Soulnote was born. It was all thanks to the passion of Mr. Nakazawa, along with many engineers’ dreams, that formed this company.


Why is Soulnote extraordinary?

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Many esteemed publications have revived Soulnote products, coming up with praiseworthy remarks. After long hours of listening to the audio quality and admiring the sleek designs, some of the comments include,

“This is a great audiophile product”

“Great, totally fascinated by this sound”

Moreover, while of them initially thought that Soulnote was a newbie to the audio industry, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that it had a long and rich history, along with a very simple yet meaningful philosophy

Ever wonder why Soulnote sounds the way it does? Every single member of the engineering team were music lovers. They loved all kinds of music—from rock to Classical, to Latin beats and everything in between. They frequently visited music shops and studios. This gave them a chance to monitor the sound quality and eventually, replicate it for the home sound system.

But Why??

The answer is simple: music and audio are one. This essentially means that musical notes aren’t separate from the hardware that plays them. Whether it is in the car stereo, at home, or wherever, one is, the listener should be able to experience sound quality as if he or she were actually there—such as at a live concert. Moreover, the audio equipment used must likewise be sleek, simple, and easy and functional to use.

All this can be summed up in Soulnote’s simple yet catchy slogan: “Sound Resonating to the Soul”. This was coined based on the goal of bridging the gap between recording studios and listening stage, between hardware and software. They believe that you cannot have one and ignore the other. It is a holistic approach, one which stirs the senses as well as the soul.


A Brief Chat With SoulNote Chief Engineer, Mr Kato

Chief engineer, Kato says, the limit of contemporary technology of CD players can extract only 80% of tonal data out of a compact Disc. But he believes there must be room to do more.

QUESTION

We recall the remarkable characteristics of the Philips LHH series as an excellent sound stage and its highest grade fidelity. What kind of technology did you adopt to realize these

kato

KATO

He says that it was rather basic. All they actually did was a tedious process of “trial and error” to bring out 100 % of the devices’ capabilities. He reveals that many CD players cannot extract 100 % from the CD they’re playing. He goes on to say that many engineers tend to rely more on Oscilloscope measurements that throw them off as to what real sound quality is all about. He and his team, on the other hand, simply relied on their ears to get that perfect sound quality.

 

QUESTION

Philips and Marantz used to launch 1bit CD players, and they’re big fans of its high quality reproduction capabilities. On the other hand, it’s undeniable that the multi bit is the mainstream technology used today. When it comes to real high quality reproduction capability, what are your thoughts of this?

kato

KATO

I truly believe that bitstream had a unique and very smooth sound quality. One such player was TD1547, also known as DAC7, gave out strong and linear sound reproduction. This was during an era when most HiFi brands were struggling to draw the most out of the available audio devices. We have come a long way since then and the quality of DAC players has vastly improved since then. Nowadays, we believe that if it is possible to draw the most latent capabilities out of 1bit or multibit , then we can likewise go beyond and come up with truly pure sound quality. Despite the popularity of newer media such as MP3, many are still fascinated with the CD. Yes, there are still a lot of players that are unable to extract the full abilities of their hardware. Yet this won’t stop us from reaching our goal of providing the most realistic sound possible. This includes constant development both via electronic and mechanical experiments. One fruit of all this work is the CD transporter cn110, which was recently launched in Japan and Asia. Its CD mechanism is located in the center part of the chassis. “At SoulNote, we adopt such cutting edge technologies not only in our CD and DAC players but for our amplifiers, headphone amps, and Computer as Source products.