When I realized that a scheduled trip Osaka, Japan would conflict with the weekend of the big Headfonics-Jaben-Fuseboxx launch meet, I was beset with mixed emotions. I had some participation in the planning and arranging of the meet, and even met with Uncle Wilson in Singapore to seal the deal. And i always enjoy meeting fellow headphilers and trying new gear, so I was bummed out that I was going to miss it.
On the OTHER hand, hey, its friggin JAPAN!!! Its home to Denon, Audio Technica, Sony and Stax, and I was sure I would get to see and audition numerous cans and gears, so I consoled and convinced myself that while YOU guys were whooping it up with the gears of Uncle Wilson and Ken, I would have a one-man meet in Osaka.
So what did I see? What did I hear? How are the headphone stores in Osaka? What were the cans I got to audition? Read on intrepid reader….
PART 1: BIC CAMERA
I asked one of my friends stationed in Osaka what store(s) sold headphones, and the first store he mentioned was “Bic Camera” in Shinsaibashi, Osaka. Luckily, this store was within walking distance from my hotel, so I got my trusty Sony NEX-5 and Rockboxed iPod 5.5, and went forth, braving the unknown.
After some fiddling with the map and asking directions from some of the Engrish-challenged locals, I found Bic Camera. Apparently, its an Electronics Haven, with the ground floor full of the latest Mobile Phones and Tablets.
Here is the entrance..
While here is a shot of the first floor, chock full of the latest CelPhones and Tablets (I got to play around with the Xoom and those new dangfangled 3D Android dual core phones)
A sign on the escalator showed that the audio section was in the 3rd Floor. Once I got to the 3rd Floor, my stomach clenched as I saw row upon row of cans…all available for audition!! Big cans, small cans, woodies, flagships…all in a row, ready for the audition! The first row rack I stopped on was the Beyer rack:
Nope, no T1, T5p or DT1350, but near everything else was there. I tried the DT 990 Pro
and the T50p
Next up was the Audio Technica Rack
the AT-W1000x woody is STUNNING in person, and sounds equally stunning!!
While the AD2000 is as airy and detailed as ive read
Heres another AT Rack (with a stray XB700 LOL)
The AKG Rack was sadly incomplete
The Denon Rack was likewise anemic and lacking
The Headphone Gods seemed to mock me…while the AKG and Denon offerings were lacking, the Monster audition booth was COMPLETE…complete Can AND IEM line!!
There were TONS of iems as well. Every single AT, Denon, JVC, Sony (Japanese) iem and the Shures and UE offerings were all available for audition. But since Im not much of an IEM guy, I didnt try em (for hygiene purposes) and thus didnt take pics. What amazed me though was an entire Rack dedicated to tips!!
I also found this neat rack of Headphone and IEM catalogs per brand. What some people did was get a catalog, choose an item, and then ask the salesperson to guide him to that product. Of course, I got myself one copy of every catalog available, hehe.
After exploring the floor for a few more rounds, I found all the premium cans locked up behind glass shelves, with auditions having to be coursed through a sales rep. All the usual high end cans where represented..Senn HD800, 650, 600, Beyer T1, T50p, Denon D5000 & 7000, JVC DX700 & DX1000, AKG k701 and 702….while Stax was underrepresented with only the Baby Staxen, 202 and 404 in sight.
There were also some Amps for sale
Before I knew it, I had spent an hour and a half in the floor, and I was late for a meeting! On my way out, my eye caught the SALE shelf, with these two available:
A baby stax at around 40% off
And this Fostex T-7M at 40% off too
I ran to the first floor, “sampled” the Xoom, and quickly looked for online reviews of this Fostex can. Some headfiers claim that they sound just like the Denon D1001 (not hard to believe, since Denon uses Fostex drivers). Since they cost only roughly 2500 pesos, I thought it was a no brainer and bought it on my way out.
Im listening to it now as I type (ipod -> govibe vulcan+) and its sounding MIGHTY good. excellent soundstage, bass and detail. But thats for another post….
After paying, I was REALLY runing late for my meeting already, so i had to go. My head was swirling from all the cans i tried on, and thought I was set.
But this was mere warm up for what was awaiting me AFTER my meeting…..
Next up – Yodobashi Camera Store and the Holy Grail of Headphones!!!