Once again this year the judges have convened to decide who receives our company’s Audio Excellence Award, Digital Camera Grand-Prix, Visual Grand-Prix, Accessory Grand-Prix, and Home Theater Grand-Prix. These notable awards always heat up the year-end sales battle. Due to the dramatic changes that have taken place in the market in recent years, products have undergone a transformation, but nevertheless the number of products remains high. I am very impressed by this spirit of challenge in companies. The award results are announced in our consumer magazines, free paper, and of course on the Phile-web site, so they have a strong impact. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that these awards now occupy a central position in our industry.
Among them, the Audio Excellence Award, which was the starting point of our awards, marks its 34th anniversary this year, having been established to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of our company in 1978. At that time the award attracted much attention, because the panel of judges consisted of both audio critics and audio retail store representatives. Until then the selection committees for almost all awards were made up of only critics. By adding retail store representatives on an equal footing with the critics, we ensured that the Audio Excellence Award would come to have a decisive authority. Makers now consider receiving this award to be extremely important.
The co-chairs of the first panel of judges for the Audio Excellence Award were, on the distributor side, Tereon President Shichinojo Suzuki, and on the critics’ side, Isamu Asano. The six judges on the distributor side included President Shoichi Ujiie of Shinko Denki in Sendai, President Shoichi Hirohata of Audio Union, President Shinjiro Higuchi of Yokohama Sound, and President Itoyama of Kitakyu Musen in Kyushu. The critics on the panel were Okihiko Sugano, Shunsuke Wakabayashi, Kazuo Kanzaki, and Hirotsugu Saito. It was great fun looking forward to the panel’s reunion every year.
During the 34 years since then, the panel of judges has grown increasingly lively. On the distributor side, the co-chair baton has passed from Tereon President Suzuki to Audio Union President Hirohata and now to Osakaya President Shoji Morita, the eldest son of Riichiro Morita. On the critics’ side, the co-chair baton has passed from Asano to Sugano to Saito and now to Makoto Fujioka.
This year, as another step forward, we will be announcing the results of the Audio Excellence Award as a book-in-book insert in Gendai Onkyo magazine, China’s leading audio journal targeting the Chinese and East Asian markets.
I should also make special mention here of the fact that of the 34 Audio Excellence Awards, including this year’s, Accuphase has won the top Gold Prize on no less than 18 occasions. I can remember, almost as if it happened just yesterday, how the very first panel decided unanimously that the prize should go to Accuphase’s C-200S and P-300S. And since then, Accuphase has turned out numerous outstanding products with magnificent and truly awesome performance. I would like to express my sincere respect to that company, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. As the real star of high-end audio, Accuphase is a company with a strong philosophy and principles that has unflinchingly created excellent equipment. Its spirit has been carried on and further polished from its founder, Nakaichi Kasuga, through Presidents Jiro Kasuga, Masumi Dehara, and Koji Sugiura down to the current president, Shigemasa Saito.
Like these Accuphase products, there are many attractive products in the high-end audio world, and it is this fact that has established such a stable consumption structure. In other words, there are plenty of enthusiastic audio fans continually existing in this market. In this sense, true to the award’s name and our motto of contributing to the development of the industry, we will continue our efforts to stimulate the audio market and, through the Audio Excellence Award and our other awards, fulfill our responsibilities.