Publisher Profile

The Accuphase Culture

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Accuphase is a core constituent of a prestigious, global circle of modestly-sized audio companies. And in its indigenous market of Japan, Accuphase is a leader in both innovations and market share. Many of its amplifiers of the 70s and 80s continued to be regarded as reference-class products by the owners presently, and the company’s history of success in product diversification has proved to be most impressive. The name Accuphase came from a combination of “accu” from “accurate”, and “phase”, which expresses the company’s long-held doctrine “to get to the truth” of audio technology. This is a commentary on the company and its beliefs, and we at Dagogo are pleased to present this commentary to our readers.

Accuphase is founded in Tokyo by Mr. Nakaichi Kasuga and Mr. Jiro Kasuga on June 1, 1972. Before founding Accuphase, the two gentlemen were the founders of Trio-Kenwood in 1946. They have always felt very strongly that a manufacturer of high-quality audio products superior even to the high-quality products from abroad should exist in Japan. At that time, however, Japanese audio manufacturer produced only popular products using mass production techniques. Wanting to put that belief to the ultimate test, they left Trio -Kenwood to found Accuphase. A number of highly qualified staff members and executives also left Trio-Kenwood for Accuphase to share their vision.

Accuphase’s top management:

Mr. Jiro Kasuga, Chairman of the Board

* The founder of Trio Electronics, Inc.
* Former Vice President of Kenwood Electronics, Inc. of U.S.A.
* The founder of Accuphase Laboratory, Inc.
* Director of Japan Audio Engineering Society

Mr. Koji Sugiura, President

* One of the major staff that established Accuphase. Worked for Trio-
Kenwood previously for many years.
* He demonstrated great abilities as Sales Director of Accuphase, and in May
of 1998 he took office as President.

Mr. Shigemasa Saito, Executive Vice President

* One of the major staff that established Accuphase. Also worked for Trio-
Kenwood for many years.
* He was the Technical Director and Sales Director of Accuphase, and in May
of 1998 he took office as Excutive Vice President in charge of International
Marketing and Company Management.

Development, design, production, sales and distribution of all Accuphase products are centered in the Head Office and Factory in Yokohama at present. Mode of distribution in domestic market is direct to high-end audio retail shops without the wholesale layer, numbering 100 premier shops, with a total of 200 retail shops. National-level customers, such as NHK (Japan Broadcasting Commissions) and TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting Station) are Accuphase’s long-standing business partners. Export is also conducted from Yokohama directly, with one distributor for each country in more than 30 countries.

Accuphase considers the following of its own products as the most prominent in the company’s product history:

Year Model Description
1999 DC-330 Super Digital Pre-amplifier with SACD DAC
2000 DP-100/DC-101 SACD/CD Transport and Super DAC with MDS
2002 M-8000 2,000 Watts Mono Power Amplifier
2002 C-2800 Super Analog Pre-amplifier with AAVA
2002 DG-38 Digital Graphic Equalizer
2003 P-7000 1,000 Watts at 1-Ohm Stereo Power Amplifier
2003 DP-67 CD Only Player with MDS
2003 E-408 Integrated Amplifier
2004 A-60 Class-A Stereo Power Amplifier
2005 DP-78 SACD/CD Player with MDS
2005 E-550 First Class-A Integrated Amplifier with AAVA
2005 PS-1210 Clean Power Supply
2005 T-1000 FM Tuner with Digita Synthesis

Accuphase also graciously granted the following Q&A section, which provides insights into the company and its positions on numerous issues.

Q: Your mission statement is “Enrich life through technology”. Please elaborate.

A: “Enrich life through technology” is our statement to audiophiles from a genuine spirit, made possible by highly focused business missions.

Accuphase attempts to offer complete satisfaction to those who search for the “genuine” article throughout the worldwide market. We will do this by continuing “to get to the truth” of the audio culture through our technologies. We will also continue to strive to fulfill our mission as a unique and personalized enterprise that responds to the diversified needs of audio fans – something that is impossible to do by the giant corporations that have long ago lost their “personal” touch.

Just as Porsche have done with vehicles and Hasselblad with cameras, so has Accuphase devoted itself to the manufacturing of sophisticated products of only the highest quality.

Q: Would you care to share your belief in your technological specialty with Dagogo’s readers?

A: We started as a specialty technology company in audio electronics, such as amplifiers and tuners, as our first-class technicians all came from the top audio company at that time, namely Trio-Kenwood. However, the Accuphase original circuit, Complementary Symmetry Push-Pull Circuit, from pre-amplifier stage all the way to power amplifier stage, is an elegant and epoch-making design, one that is still used in all the Accuphase amplifiers and never attempted by big companies who always concentrated on the cost-performance race.

In addition to amplifier technology, Accuphase developed digital technology recognized by fans worldwide, culminating in the phrase, Accuphase is the Digital. Though Accuphase’s technology is always future-oriented, whenever Accuphase approaches the market, we always make sure that the product represents an amalgamation of innovation, with deep consideration of old technology. Every old technology becomes the foundation of new technology, that will never be ignored at Accuphase.

Q: Please describe some critical changes/breakthroughs induced by your Company.

A: One year after the corporation was founded in 1972, our first products, the P-300 Power Amplifier and the C-200 Pre-amplifier, were epoch-making in Japanese audio market at the time, winning the Gold Prize of the Stereo Component Grand Prix, an important distinction in the audio field. They were the recognized breakthroughs of high-end audio.

The initial products were also welcomed by U.S.A. market as the Rolls-Royce in hi-fi field. After that, Accuphase has been leading Japan’s high-end market with epoch-making products. Whenever Accuphase released products on the market, all those products became immediate prize winners. The big exception was the release of separate-type CD Player, the DP-80 Transport and the DC-81 DAC. At that time, audiophiles still loved LP because of the lesser quality of CD Players released by major audio manufacturers. Because of the quality of sound by the Accuphase separates, audiophiles once again recognized the true ability of CDs. Due to the reputation of this CD Player system, younger generations in the U.S. market recognized Accuphase as Accuphase is the Digital.

Our recent innovation is the Digital Pre-amplifier DC-330, the Digital Graphic Equalizer DG-38, Digital Crossover network DF-45, CD player DP-67, SA-CD player DP-78 and Digital Synthesis FM Tuner. Those are really future-reaching innovations in the audio field. We remain the same organization of around 70 employees in almost the same facility since founding, and we remain true to our founding principles of conservative operations, something that giant corporation cannot do.

Q: Very good. Your products have always had a highly consistent type of visage throughout your product history, whereas the designs of your competitions have had dramatic and fundamental changes that, oftentimes, bear no resemblance to the earlier looks. What is your position on this?

A: In the high-end market, a product once released must have longevity. To achieve this, many plans are plotted, such as long-run production without frequent model change, moderate styling without fanciful and extravagant cosmetic, as well as maintaining same Accuphase atmosphere with which even old models will match the new models.

For example, our power meter is part of the Accuphase culture, which we have been using for 30 years since the founding of Accuphase. Actually, the power meter continues to be welcomed by many world audiophiles; and if we stop offering our power meter, we will be criticized by many Accuphase fans worldwide. In this sense, specification figure on the meter is also conservatively rated. Please take note that Accuphase’s specification is a guaranteed specification. No need to be disappointed, therefore even if the specification data does not look remarkable, since it is the minimum value, unlike many other manufacturers using the best value. Bear in mind that if we do what many other manufacturers are doing, all of our specifications will go far higher, including a 50% increase in rated output power. We do not advertise possibilities of high performance, as we guarantee the best sound for every audiophile at every occasion.

Hence, all Acuuphase products feature top electrical performance realized by lavishly designed circuitry in a beautiful, sophisticated layout, crafted by highly qualified technicians, who are all dedicated to the sound quality, and not only for sales aid. This is our conservative way.

Q: I think it is safe to state that all audiophiles, including many of your loyal customers, have contemplated abolishing the preamplifier one time or another. Coincidentally, with your internationally renowned digital preamplifiers and CD players with high-quality, adjustable volume control, Accuphase seems to be treading alongside those audiophiles as well. What is Accuphase’s official position on the issue of preamplification?

A: Quality pre-amplifier is vital to control and orderly adjustment of signals for a well balanced transmission to power amplifier. We do not recommend connecting the CD player directly to power amplifier, since no CD player can perform optimally when connecting directly to power amplifier. Even Accuphase CD players are no exception.

Digital level control provided in Accuphase CD player is for the purpose of precision attenuation in digital domain, and not for total volume control.

Whatever degree of attenuation you make, the process always causes the loss of digital bit, affecting the quality of sound. We believe that the ideal digital attenuator requires a minimum of the 48-bit DSP that we use in our DC-330 digital pre-amplifier. Playback via a CD player connected directly to a power amplifier may sound vivid at an immediate listening, leading to the misunderstanding that the sound quality is upgraded. However, we will all find later that the feeling of vividness is due to peaky high and lack of bass.

Anyhow, as preferred by every audio magazine, please try an Accuphase pre-amplifier as your reference pre-amplifier. Currently, Accuphase pre-amplifiers, and even our top integrated amplifier, the E-550, employ a sensational AAVA (Accuphase Analog Vari-gain Amplifier) volume control. This newly developed AAVA volume control is totally different from conventional control using resistors. As AAVA volume control consists of multiple amplifier circuit, the music signal does not pass through conventional variable resistor-type volume control. The signal’s impedance is no longer affected by changes in our high resolution level adjustments, and complete elimination of left/right tracking error and crosstalk are achieved. Without any deterioration in sound quality, high signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion of the signal are maintained at last.

Q: I understand that Accuphase amplifiers have been trusted by a legion of seasoned audiophiles, most notably the vinylphiles, in your domestic market of Japan. Accordingly, your foray into digital in the late 80s have also captured the support of the younger generations of audiophiles. Please tell us your position on the digital front.

A: Digital equipment of Accuphase enjoy an especially high reputation in the U.S.A. market.

The DC-330 Digital Pre-amplifier, the DG-38 Digital Voicing Equalizer (Automatic Graphic Equalizer) and the DF-45 Digital Crossover Network for Multi-Amplification system are welcomed again as sensational digital products. There are many formats of digital equipment in the market, such as MD, DCC, DAT, Digital Satellite Tuner, CD and SACD. In products of moderate price range, one lesser-quality DAC chip is always employed. It is different at Accuphase. Surprising appreciation is heard from customers, with words like how his low cost CD is upgraded in sound quality once they play it via Accuphase digital. To illustrate how the quality of DAC dominates the sound quality of digital equipment, currently, the Accuphase original MDS (Multiple Delta Sigma) D/A converter is employed in every Accuphase CD players, SACD players, Digital Equalizers and Digital Crossover Network whenever a D/A section is employed. The MDS principle employs several delta sigma converters in a parallel configuration which results in a drastic enhancement in precision.

Q: I have always pondered upon the rationale for Accuphase to manufacture both class-A and class-AB amplifiers. Could you please share your position on the amplification classes with Dagogo’s readers?

A: Many seasoned audiophiles consider the Class-A amplifier a priority in sound reproduction. It would be true in terms of sound quality of high speed sound pick-up, clear and precise atmospheric feels. Excellent dynamic can also be presented in Class-A amplification even at low level volume setting.

In the meantime, Class-AB amplifier has a clear benefit at normal listening level, imparting vividness, liveliness, brightness and dynamic feel. As we consider it not a matter of superiority but the matter of preference for each listener, Accuphase offers audiophiles a wide selection, from Class-A to Class-AB operation, and from low power to high power amplifiers.

All amplifiers employ Accuphase’s MCS (Multiple Circuit Summing-up) system and Current Feedback topology. And yet, thanks to high-efficiency circuit design, to say nothing of Class-AB amplifiers, even our Class-A amplifiers generate very minimal amount of heat. When compared to a conventional Class-A
amplifier, Accuphase feels cool.

Q: What is Accuphase’s position in AC power conditioning and filtration?

A: Clean power supply is really useful nowadays when an increased number of electronic equipment is used in home.

There are many power supply equipment available in the market, and almost all were produced by instrumental, machinery and industrial manufacturers. They are all made for high performance to certain electrical specifications. Accuphase is a hi-fi manufacturer with a different approach, that is to achieve high performance in sound reproduction.

We heard from audiophiles that there are many dissatisfaction with power supply equipment, in that they destroy the vividness of music, make the music too soft and veils focus and depth, despite the assurance in electrical stability. We studied those cases and found that the key lies in the conversion system where AC Power is rectified and converted to high frequency, then transformed to desired frequencies. In many cases, the original vividness and huge energy of AC is destroyed during the conversion process.

So, as you can see our principle in details from brochure, Accuphase’s clean power supply extracts all original AC power with waveform compensation circuitry, which shows superior performance in eliminating the distortion of AC power. Our product is completely different to other power supply units, allowing amplifier to sound lively as if it were upgraded to a higher model. Passive power supply may have less affect on sound but it is inferior to Active power supply in electrical performance. So, there is no argument in the superiority of the Accuphase Clean Power Supply.

Q: Accuphase is recognized as one of the top audio companies in the Hi-Fi Industry. In your opinion, what are the primary contributing factors to your success?

A: Thank you for your kind words. We targeted only to the specialty high-end audio market, separating our designs from popular mass sales products, and aiming directly at the needs of audio enthusiasts, using a personalized management which attaches the utmost importance to quality rather than quantity, and attracting new demand by creating future-oriented products. We owe a huge part of our success to the company policy and operating guidelines.

Q: I want to thank you for your time in sharing the very detailed information with Dagogo’s readers. At closing, please tell us your thoughts on the more immediate future of the Hi-Fi Industry, and how Accuphase is positioning itself to succeed.

A: Thank you for having us here.

Super Audio CD, DVD-A and Video DVD will create new era in both the audio and visual market. As better visual software requires better sound, audio and visual should compliment each other. True to the phrase, “Accuphase is the Digital”, the Super Audio CD (SACD) is Accuphase’s unrivaled sphere of activity. Excellent performance of SACD, such as 100kHz frequency response and huge dynamic range, will also easily reveal the quality of amplifiers and disclose the technical competence in digital processing technology.

It is our opinion that mass production manufacturers, once giving up the pursuit of true hi-fi, will either face hard work in a keenly competitive environment, or will run away again to the production of cheap SACD and DVD goods without knowing about the true ability of SACD and DVD. We at Accuphase will continue to go all the way without short-cutting, even if it will be a long way, at the same time conserving energy and knowledge, and pushing the technology of the frontier.

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