It is easy to think of the audiophile hobby as an American pass-time. The hobby really came into its own in the late 1960s when Baby Boomers were in Vietnam fighting a silly, needless war and popular, rock and roll music was at its all-time best. GIs saw products like JBL, Carver and Marantz in the military PX stores and fell in love. In to the 1970s, other than perhaps a muscle car – nothing defined a man’s masculinity more than the size and girth of his audiophile speakers. By the 1980s when the Baby Boomers sold out their left-leaning politics for gross consumerism, they also became more and more addicted to audio and stereo systems. The advent of the Compact Disc was a big factor. The drastic improvement of smaller bookshelf audiophile speakers and audiophile subwoofers also factored in to the rise of the hobby in the United States.
Unless you are a professional in the audio-video industry who understands the idiosyncrasies of audiophile international distribution then you wouldn’t believe it when you saw how much audiophile gear is consumed in Japan. Asia is a strong market, especially today with the 30 year economic rise of China, but the real love affair with audiophile speakers is in Japan. The Japanese love gear made in Japan like Sony, Accuphase and others but they consume gross volumes of American made and European AV. A good example is how many pairs of the very small, LS3/5A speakers (designed by the BBC nearly 50 years ago and made by many companies today) that the Japanese consume. They also love products like Bowers & Wilkins 803 D4, MartinLogan ESL speakers or even speakers from France like the Focal Sopra No. 2 loudspeakers which are also popular in Japan.
American audio engineers walk the Earth as heroes in Japan. Dan D’Agostino, Bob Stuart (from England but who’s counting), Bob Carver, Nelson Pass, David Wilson, Gayle Sanders, Sandy Gross (Definitive Technology, Polk Audio and GoldenEar Technologies) and others have God-like status when they fly to Japan.
The Japanese also make and remaster their own music to audiophile standards thus making for rare and juicy audiophile software finds for audiophiles around the world.