Newport 2015: Kubotek/Haniwa


by Rafe Arnott

THEShow_LOGO2015I’m still not 100 per cent sure what was happening exactly in the Kubotek/Haniwa Real 3D Audio room at Newport Beach, but whatever it was, I’m 100 per cent sure they’re on to something.

Kubotek president and CEO Naotake Kakishita was very enthusiastic about the room’s sound, but because my Japanese is not the best (at the best of times), I had to rely on the handout material to fully grasp the concept.

It seems Dr. Kubo (of Kubotek) really dug Harry Pearson, the late founder of The Absolute Sound, and Pearson’s love for vinyl and classic recordings from the ’50s and ’60s, and in particular Pearson’s love for two-channel audio playback systems.

So he set about designing and implementing a recording-source-to-playback system that, Dr. Kubo feels, truly captures the essence of real, live music performances.

Everything being played in the room was ripped from Pearson’s personal 3,000+ vinyl record collection that Kubo acquired, and it seems the room was an homage to Mr. Pearson’s friendship with Dr. Kubo.

The system involves recording musicians with “two omnidirectional microphones because those two microphones configure the simplest audio sensing tool about the 3D space… the use of multiple close-up microphones only distorts the spatial relationships of players and instruments.

“Once the performance is recorded right, only necessary work is to deliver the recorded information transparently including two speakers, to the listeners.

“Anything that alters the original information, such as mixing, electronic, and acoustic filtering, etc. should be avoided.”

OK, I’m down with the less-screwing-with-the-original-recording-is-best concept, so Haniwa is getting buy-in from me off the top. I’m not a big fan of digital playback though, regardless if they’re pulling 24/192 files off LPs, or recording in real-time to high-resolution digital media, — BUT — the sound in the room was incredibly lifelike, nuanced, detailed and completely engaging.

The setup consisted of the Haniwa HSP1C04 Full Range Cube Speakers (30Hz ~ 30KHz) and the HDCA01 Digital Amplifier ($12,000 US for speakers and amp) and the HAMP05 Full Range Tube Stereo Power Amplifier ($4,000 US).

It was a small, easy to hide system and I honestly was truly impressed at the depth and breadth of the system’s sound. I would imagine Harry Pearson would be pleased with your efforts Dr. Kubo.

Proud to sponsor Part-Time Audiophile and The Audio Traveler at THE Show in Newport 2015!





About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream


  1. I was directly across the hall from them and I never did figure out what they were doing.

    I’m confused, Rafe. Was he digitally recording playback of LPs via mics and then using the digital result at the show, or did he rip the phono signal directly to files? They both strike me as strange. If you own the LP’s, hand carry them to the show and scrape up a turntable. Ripping LPs to digital storage – particularly given the HP-owned LPs – strikes me as more than a bot perverse.

    • It’s my understanding that Harry’s LPs had been ripped using some sort of proprietary software/hardware, not recorded via mics. But yeah, something was lost in translation.

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