Our interview with Hiroyasu Kondo—founder of Audio Note Japan, and a legendary figure in his own time—took place during HI-FI '96 last June at the Waldorf=Astoria. It seemed very natural; the crowd at the Show was very internationalist. Herb Reichert of Audio Note New York found us a quiet corner after lunch, and we sat down to talk.
This was a group affair. I sat with Kondo-San on my left, and Masahiro Shibazaki directly across from me. A very obedient (you'll see what I mean) Masaki Ashizawa of Audio Note sat on my right, while my wife Kathleen and Herb filled out the table. Shibazaki-San, President of Sibatech—he imports Lowther single-driver speaker units and other UK audio gear—served as the interpreter (Kondo does not speak English). Nor is Shibazaki a disinterested party—it was he, after all, who named the Ongaku amplifier.
As you read the interview, understand that I addressed my questions directly to Kondo, but as well to Shibazaki, as it was his onerous task to translate my pithy and probing questions (to which task he applied himself masterfully). I have not included as part of the flow of the interview the occasionally long process of asking of a (sometimes prickly) question and its translation into Japanese, and then the response and its translation into English.
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Neil McCauley / editor in chief