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In the Forum: Audio Discussions
In the Thread: Truth stretched out via Feastrex prism.
Post Subject: Why I hate the “Japanese Sound”Posted by Romy the Cat on: 1/22/2006

 guy sergeant wrote:
I do have a problem however with the notion that the reproduction of 'western' music requires different attributes than the reproduction of other types of music, for example Indian, Chinese or Japanese classical music. That is simply nonsense.  If Mr Akiyima is only using Japanese folk music (or whatever)  to develop his drivers then he would still, in an ideal world, end up with a speaker system that would play 'western' classical music as well as all other types.  That his drivers don't sound good (in your view, I haven't heard them) is not because of the type of music used but just because he doesn't know or understand what he is doing. There are plenty of 'Western' audio manufacturers who do use 'Western' classical music and yet still manufacture garbage. There are also Eastern maufacturers who do make nice sounding products.  Western classical music is no industry standard. It's just what you happen to enjoy.

What you are saying is correct: yes, there are Asian manufactures that do OK products. However, I was talking about very different things: the differences between Asian listening culture and Western listening culture projected through the prism of Sound reproductive methods. In this case the “yellow” speakers drivers are exact outcome and victim of this Asian-Western listening aberration. Let me to explain.

I usually do not like Asian high-end audio. I would even say that I (mostly) hate the Asian high-end audio. Their audio is OK but when their audio enters the realm of high-end and people begin to use this own mind to shape the idiosyncrasies of sound reproduction then the Asian listing culture drives Asian folks into the directions that I, as a western listener, clearly do not appreciate. The “yellow drivers”, the amplifiers producing that gray Japanese midrangy sound, the washy-washy cartridges and many other things are juts the manifestation of that strategic “Asian sound reproductive desire” (with of course existing exceptions from the generalization).

The problem is (certainly this is problem only in my Western mind and is absolutely not a problem for the Asian folks) that Asian people not hear listen different different.  I made quite a few experiments with some Asian listeners that I know and when I hold the operating drivers with my hands, restricting the driver’s exertions and severally over dampening them, then the Asian listeners, though they did not like the sound but admitted that it was in some way a move into a desirable directions for them. The reason for this is that Asian listeners and Western listeners has quite different cultural roots and along with them quite different definition of audio retroactive success.

The source for the Western-Asian listener conflict is differences of our languages. The Western people use phonetic symbols to construct their words, contrary to the Asian people who recognize along with phonetic characters the amplitude of pitches, or something that call non-morphemic tone. The Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Thai and many other Asian languages consist of many phonetic characters and a number of tonal markings. This concept is totally unknown for Western people as the Westerners uses tones to spice up or to moderate their phrases (question, irony, surprise, sorrow, doubts and so on) but Westerners do not use tonal differences for spelling. (Asians have 4 separate tonal groups). As the result we Westerners get out of tonal emphasis explicitly consciousness pleasure, contrary to the Asian people, who are able to get out of tonal emphasis the intellectual pleasure and values. Therefore, for an Asian person the amplitude of pitch and height of a tone as something that modifies the definitions of the words, not only moderates anthem like it would be with Westerners. Consequently, evolutionary the Asian awareness is accustomed to recognize the intellectual definition of tones and subconsciously their awareness searches for harmonics, only in their cases the harmonics acts not like enrichment of a message (this is what Westerners do) but like a window to a new intellectual meaning.

This is exactly why an Asian listener might sit for hours listening their 3-string lutes or bamboo flutes holding just one or few notes. We westerner recognize juts a few notes in this music and no further events but an Asian person hears the tonal inflictions of a singe note and to him it has an esthetic and intellectual value. Therefore, the Asian listening habits do not live in the world of fundamentals but mostly in the world of harmonics. A Western person has no intellectual definition of harmonics and he primary listens for the sequences of the fundamentals. The Western people (or whoever whose languages has no tone definition) can appreciate harmonics but they use them as adjectives, not as nouns. It is not the case for an Asian listener. An Asian listener make his audio to be single-tone-centric and then spend all his efforts to make this audio to portray more divertly the moderation of a single tone, contrary to a Westerner who wanted to see the relations and the reasons of the relations between the tones. BTW, this is of the reasons why around the World have a lot of the great Asian string players (string are harmonics-centric instruments) but most Asian piano players are quite horrible (piano is fundamentals-centric instrument).

Defiantly what I am saying is a generalization and there are exceptions. Still if you visited many listening room of Asian audio people, and particularly not the typical audio-Morons but those who have some creativeness, capacity and spends affords with their audio then you will observe a very common tendency: they build their audio with quite different objectives then Westerners might do. Or course, when we talks about the Westerners let do not forget that 99.99999% of them (the same ratio as the Asians) have no objectives in their sound reproduction at all, other then juts bring home a new peaces of audio and pile them up in their listening room. Ask tem why they do what they do and what their motivations were and they only will reply you with a quote from the same dull Michael Fremer or from the same tedious Yukihito Akiyama….

Here is where the Asians learned quite well how to use the Western used car-selling techniques to promote their mediocre Hi-Fi. Looking at the Feastrex driver and the Mr. Akiyama’s BS I think they beat us…

Romy the Cat

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