First Tokyo Showroom for UK Audio Firm

Written by Sam
July 20, 2017

Written by Sam
July 20, 2017

Renowned British loudspeaker manufacturer and audio goods firm KEF has extended its global network with its first showroom in Japan, opening in Yurakucho on 21st July.

The move comes after nearly 20 years of operations in Japan for KEF, as the company seeks greater engagement with consumers.

Named KEF Music Gallery, the showroom is designed to be a place where music lovers and those involved in the music industry can see, touch and try KEF products at their leisure or enjoy a host of audio-related books and magazines. It will also be used as a venue for live music events.

At a press viewing on 18th July, Ken Akiyama, president of KEF Japan, said that he wants the gallery to be a place where people can experience, and be moved by, music thanks to the top-quality sound produced by KEF equipment.

“We didn’t want a showroom and we didn’t want a shop; we wanted something that combined the best of the two,” he explained. “Because sound is a sensibility, people need to experience many different levels of sound quality in order to appreciate great sound.”

Humble beginnings

Akiyama used the analogy of food to explain that people who eat hamburgers every day may be happy, but their happiness is due to the fact that they don’t know what else is available. KEF products would likely be a steak in that food analogy.

The firm has a reputation worldwide for pioneering development and acoustic quality. It began in a Nissen hut in Kent, in 1961, where company founder and former BBC electrical engineer Raymond Cooke OBE (1925–1995) experimented with new materials in the hope of revolutionizing the audio industry.

“The fundamental tone of a person’s voice should be the same when it is reproduced by a speaker,” said Akiyama. “In those days, that level of quality had not been achieved so Raymond brought an engineer to the workshop, recorded his voice in an anechoic chamber and listened to it through a KEF speaker, to check if the sound matched his voice. I don’t know of any other makers to do that, even now.”

Today, KEF specialises in premium hi-fi and home theatre speakers for home and studio use; custom architectural speakers for home and professional use; and new media, including personal and digital audio, powered and wireless speakers and headphones.

British quality appeals 

KEF plans to make its KEF Music Gallery the first of many worldwide, in cultural centres such as London, New York and Hong Kong.

And KEF Japan has attracted the attention of Tokyo Metro and JR Kyushu. In its first B2B deal, selected trains and stations are to be installed with KEF loudspeakers, to improve the sound’s timbre and thereby improve the atmosphere. The move builds on the installation of KEF speakers in luxury cruise sleeper train Nanatsuboshi (Seven Stars), which operates in Kyushu.

Japanese music industry insiders at the press viewing welcomed KEF’s newest step in Japan. Panel members Teruo Nakamura, a music producer and jazzman, and Koichi Kaneko, a Fuji TV producer, said they had been impressed when using KEF LS50 wireless speakers professionally.

Also attending was international jazz vocalist Vivian, who gave a soulful live performance, accompanied by a backing track of piano, bass and drums, played through KEF LS50 wireless speakers.