Somewhat restless is how I get whenever a product from Kazuo Kiuchi enters my home; such unrest being due to the prospect of listening to music in a better and more exhilarating way. This genius from Japan derives great pleasure from breaching the bounds of the conventional to create the truly exceptional.
How do the more creative and successful think? What inspired Claudio Monteverdi to compose the first opera with his L’Orfeo, or Steve Jobs to take the ailing Apple corporation to the pinnacle of the business world with a series of extraordinary and highly popular products? Or how was it that the Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović almost single-handedly led her form of art to earn prominence and respect? And although a rung or two lower on the ladder of familiarity, but in my eyes still way up there from today’s perspective, what drove the young researcher Koichiro Akimoto to rattle the scene by brazenly disregarding the acknowledged rules governing tonearms in order to develop his remarkable ViV Rigid Float? One answer can be found in the last question: Disregarding established rules is a requirement for bringing novel ideas to the world. Staying within our own realm, you can see that anyone who sits before such a Rigid Float arm and only compares the standard measurements of angles and percentages will simply miss the essence of the matter, to include the fact that the human auditory system can react more sensitively to a constant change in angles and the much greater skating force exerted on the needle holder in tonearms of conventional design, than to a somewhat greater geometric deviation involving what is an overall smoother and more undisturbed movement of the needle in the groove.
Just as it is clear to all of us that mankind is facing great upheavals, it is equally clear that we must question outmoded structures and ways of thinking, and open ourselves to that which is new. And just as a Monteverdi, a Jobs, an Abramović, and even an Akimoto did, so too does Kazuo Kiuchi, who has since become one of the most important researchers within that wondrous realm of the cultural technology of musical reproduction. Mr. Kiuchi’s products are more often than not a source of amazement, whether it’s those small Harmonix room tuning discs that vastly improved my listening room (his latest version of these recently delivered impressive results within this publisher’s own listening room), or tuning bases no larger than a cent piece that aided the venerable Martin Logan CLS IIs to a much-improved bass, or the RF-999 spike bases which elevated the Jadis JD1 MK II CD transport to a fresh level of sound.
This is why I was not all that surprised when, while visiting this esteemed fan of vacuum tubes and his local Germany partner, Virgil Warren, at this year’s HIGH END show, the two were demonstrating a new solid-state power amplifier instead of that immaculate PAT-777 300B tube amplifier.
To be sure, I was curious about this new KAP-777, but not that curious. It was clear that Kiuchi-san would be able to draw from it enough power to allow his Bravo speakers to finally accommodate larger rooms and spaces, and there was no doubt whatsoever in my mind that this Japanese gentlemen with his incorruptible ears would manage to create nothing less than a remarkably good transistor amplifier.
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