In Store: Loud and clear
No home is complete without a sound system, and for audiophiles,
time at home revolves around those little black boxes. Intrepid shopper
Martin Webb tunes in to the most stylish stereo stores.
Sexy stereo store
Hidden in the second floor of an inconspicuous building on the back streets
of Akihabara, SOUNDCREATE is among Japan's top hi-fi retail outlets. Specializing
in Linn and Wilson Audio products and carrying a selection of the world's
highest quality stereo equipment, this is an audiophile's paradise. Walls
studded with mini-pyramid soundproofing and sleek speakers, CD players
and amplifiers give the interior a space-age look. And if you're seeking
for some sound advice, American staffer Michael can create the perfect
combination of amp and speakers to match any musical taste, from Vivaldi
to Van Halen. Once you've made a selection, sound it out by sinking into
a comfy couch in one of the plush, playboy-style demonstration lounges.
SOUNDCREATE offers a total front-room makeover service, so if you're feeling
flush and take a liking to the designer furniture, you can buy it, too.
A seven-piece set of Linn surround-sound speakers perfect for that home
theater will set you back ¥489,000. The state-of-the-art LINN AV-5125
amp to drive it runs to ¥420,000, while an egg-shaped floor cushion,
imported from Italy, rings in at ¥51,000. Bachelors, consider yourselves
Open 11am-7pm Fri-Tue. 2F Fujiwara Bldg, 3-10-3
Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku. www.soundcreate.com
Tel: 03-3255-6281. Nearest stn: Akihabara.
|Pre-loved speakers at aVAC
Imagine having a movie theater in your living room, where you can smoke,
shout at the screen and even freeze-frame while you go to the bathroom.
If you're a movie lover and have a few spare square meters in your pad,
such luxury can be yours at aVAC. Walk through the sliding doors to a
darkened room housing projectors, DVD players and screens that can be
sampled in various combinations. Then take the elevator to the basement
and wade into a bewildering array of speakers. Again, you can judge which
model does justice to your favorite flick in the demonstration room. If
your heart is set on a home theater system, but you can't quite cover
¥525,800 for aVAC's basic starter setup, head around the corner to
their secondhand branch. Big discounts are available on all the essentials
needed to bring the silver screen into your home. Here, the top-of-the-range
Mitsubishi LVP-1 projector, recently discontinued, sells for ¥160,000.
New or used, the gear at aVAC is sure to make your pizza and video nights
the talk of the town.
Open 11am-8pm daily. 1F Hanabusa Bldg, 5-2-3 Sotokanda,
Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3837-9745. Nearest stn: Ginza line, Suehirocho stn,
of stereo stuff
In a building seemingly dedicated to recycled items (used Louis Vuitton
and Chanel bags and Japanese designer clothes are on sale on the third
and sixth floors) is this treasure chest for the aspiring DJ, music producer
or track maker on a budget. Turntables, keyboards, mixers and CDJ machines
are all available new and secondhand. Pick up a new Technics SL-1200mk3D
turntable for an unbeatable ¥42,000 or a used Vestax PMC-03A mixer
for just ¥9,800. All previously owned items are given a thorough servicing
by the long-haired, bearded and booted staff, all expert knob twiddlers
themselves. There are also some great package deals here, particularly
on semipro turntable set-ups with styluses and cartridges thrown in at
rock-bottom prices. If it's rock, rather than electronic, rhythms that
get you in the groove, move on up to the fifth floor, where the guitar
and synthesizer section can set you up for some window-shattering jam
sessions. The Hughes and Kettner Metroverv comes in at ¥29,800 and
a Korg MS-2000 synthesizer goes for ¥69,000. For cheap deals on guitars,
a better bet is Ochanomizu, but the Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster (¥128,000)
on display here is a pleasure to clap eyes on. With sound after-sales
service and friendly advice, this little store really rocks.
Open 1-9pm daily. 4-5F Sun Forest Bldg, Fire Street,
1-3-3 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku. www.echigoyamusic.com
Tel: 03-3464-0905. Nearest stn: Shibuya.
Audio nerd heaven
Spread over three modest units on an out-of-the-way Akihabara street,
Hino Audio specializes in custom-made equipment. It's something of a cliché
to say that the Japanese excel at perfecting existing technology, but
that's just what this shop is all about. The Speaker Craft department
stocks clever pieces of Japanese engineering in odd shapes and sizes,
most of which are modifications of classic speaker blueprints. Audiophiles
can also buy parts and build their own models, or buy into some audio
history with the Hyuger Autograph. First developed in 1954 and still a
highly sought-after item, these floor-standing speakers made from Finnish
birch and teak go for ¥2.5 million per pair. The ultimate item to
get audio nerds drooling, valve amps, are also in stock at the shop, which
is run by Japan's leading valve amp expert, Kurata-san. The most popular
model, developed by the in-house R&D team, is the Single HK300BS priced
at ¥398,000. The Sound Gallery stocks parts for specialists but has
some fascinating contraptions resembling B-movie sci-fi lab equipment.
Items accessible to the average buyer occasionally crop up, but Hino Audio
is worth checking outif only as an Akihabara institution and curiosity
Open 10am-8pm daily. Amp-ten: 1F Daiwa Bldg, 2-23-9
Kanda-sugacho. Tel: 03-3253-4709. Speaker Craft: B1F Shibasaki Bldg, 2-23-1
Kanda-sugacho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3253-5743. Sound Gallery: 1F Nomura
Bldg, 2-23-10 Kanda-sugacho. Tel: 03-3253-5222. Nearest stn: Akihabara.
Photo credit: Anatole Papfilippou
|B u y i t o n l i n e !
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IN STORE ARCHIVE:
535: Anything goes
Add a little spunk to your life at Tokyo's zakka housewares shops. Hanna
Kite visits five of the best.
531: To a tee
Tokyos hottest T-shirt shops boast designs by some of Japans
top talents. Hanna Kite dresses down.
527: Treasure chests
Hanna Kite checks out five Tokyo jewelers that offer the perfect setting
for your next shopping excursion.
523: Arts and crafts movement
Trina OHara goes in search of the Japanese creative spirit.
Move over, Hello Kitty. Sexy has finally replaced cute in Tokyo's lingerie
stores. Hanna Kite reports.
515: Bowled over
Trina O'Hara tracks down the latest tableware to suit any time of day.
511: East meets nest
Trina O'Hara finds that Tokyo's flea markets and shrine sales suit all types
of personalities and interests.
503: The write stuff
Hanna Kite takes notes at Tokyo's finest pen and paper boutiques.
499: Blasts from the past
Tokyo trendsetters have a knack for making old fashions new again. Jennifer
Au goes back in time at the city's coolest vintage clothing stores.
495: In the bag
From haute to mass-market, designer to dowdy, Tokyo has a tote to suit every
taste and budget. Jennifer Au tracks down the best.
491: Paper chase
Steve Trautlein goes on a search for Tokyo's best English booksellers.
487: Happy trails
A love affair with the great outdoors is easily consummated at these Tokyo
retailers. Steve Trautlein gears up.
483: Top hats
Whether its a rooftop barbecue, a riverside picnic or an afternoon
stroll, there will be times this summer when youll want to keep the sun
off your face. Martin Webb hunts down Tokyos best headwear suppliers
so you can stay shady in style.
479: Oriental express
This summer, all things Asian are hot stuff. Martin Webb finds out how to
get the look without breaking the bank.
474: Haute haven
Forget Roppongi Hills aspirations to be the citys cultural hub.
This is the consumer capital of the world, and its all about shopping.
Martin Webb reports.
468: New kit on the block
Backed by street-wise fashion chain store Beams, these seven new stores
are upping the style quotient in Daikanyama. Martin Webb sizes up this brand
new shopping experience.
463: Can buy me love
Stuck for ideas about how to make Valentines Day extra memorable this
year? Martin Webb shops around for some great gift ideas for lucky ladies.
452: Perfect timing
For the rushed residents of our fair metropolis, keeping an eye on time is one
of life's little necessities.
448: House of style
The newly open Marunouchi Building is drawing legions of eager shoppers from
all over Japan
445: Present perfect
Tired of wasting your yen on last-minute gifts at duty free?
441: Toy story
Martin Webb tackles every parent's annual ennui and finds playthings that could
earn you more peace and quiet than you bargained for
437: Natural selection
Seven new "select shops" are giving style seekers an excuse to keep
433: Window shopping
Stephen Cotterill indulges his yen and peers into the retail oasis that is Glassarea
429: Jet, set, go!
With the holiday high season just around the corner, trendy travelers are in
hot pursuit of packing accessories
425: Loud and clear
No home is complete without a sound system, and for audiophiles, time at home
revolves around those little black boxes
421: Red brick revival
Once at the heart of Yokohama's bustling port industry, Akarenga Soko has a
new lease of life as an exclusive entertainment and retail complex
417: Eye browse
An eyewear boom has seen new stores open and old favorites prosper
413: Sporting goodies
409: Go Figure
An army of action figures
405: Puff 'n' Stuff
Tokyo's best cigar shops
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