The Secret of the Hashimoto Sound
THE HASHIMOTO SOUND - THE NEO-SANSUI SOUND
I had a great opportunity to personally get know of an ex-Sansui manager Mr.
Ichirou Ohshima who was responsible for all ultra-high-end Sansui amps from the
mid 1980’s to 1999. During this period, he managed the Sansui high-end amp
department for all high-end models, such as the B-2301, the C-2301, the AU-X111
MOS Vintage, the AU-X1111 MOS Vintage, the AU-Alpha Series, the Vintage Series,
the MOS Series, the Limited Series, until
the reproduction of the integrated
vacuum tube amp AU-111 in 1999.
The vacuum tube integrated amplifier, Sansui AU-111 has the significant meaning
for Sansui as well as Mr. Ohshima. The AU-111 established the ground for the
future Sansui sound, and then a young engineer, Mr. Ohshima wished to create
amplifiers which could sound as good as the combination of the AU-111 and JBL
When I met Mr. Ohshima last May, he told me that it’s relatively easy to design
an amp which has superior measurable statistics (such as extremely low THD, wide
band width, etc). But, it’s a great challenge to build an amp that sounds
superior to others under the given constraints (budget, style, etc). His pursuit
for the “better sound” was one of the reasons why Sansui was able to maintain
its great reputation even under the sever business constrains. Also, because of
his “better sound” approach, Sansui was able to continue the famous “Sansui
Sound” for many years.
So, how does this Mr. Ohshima’s amp design philosophy relate to Hashimoto?
In the year 2000, the most of remaining Sansui’s hardcore employees left Sansui
due to the uncertainty for the Sansui’s future. These employees include Mr.
Ohshima, and his stuff, as well as Mr. Mitsui who is now a sales manager at
After leaving Sansui, Mr. Ohshima and his stuff, including Mr. Yokote who was a
chief designer, as well as Mr. Ohtsuka who was a chief engineer, started the
Aqua Audio Lab (http://www.aqua-audiolab.com/index.html).
The purpose of founding the Aqua Audio Lab is to maintain and fine-tune high-end
amplifiers including all historical Sansui models. Mr. Ohshima and his stuff are
those who originally created Sansui high-end amplifiers; therefore, it's no
brainier for them to fix or fine-tune those amplifiers.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ishiguro, who has been a chief transformer engineer at Hashimoto
since 1982, who was also Sansui employee from 1955 to 1982, decided designing
their own branded high-end tube transformers. Mr. Ishiguro is an enthusiastic
cello player, and he is an extreme perfectionist. Therefore, his approach to his
transformer design is to obtain the most real music like sound. For him, the
best sound is the sound that closest to the real music.
The nucleus of Mr. Ishiguro's personal sound system is the Sansui AU-Alpha907
Limited which is Sansui's one of the all-time master pieces. Mr. Ishiguro took
his AU-Alpha907 Limited to the Aqua Audio Lab, and further fine-tuned it into
the one of the kind, the ultimate reference amplifier.
Mr. Ohshima at the Aqua Audio Lab put his best efforts to fine-tune Mr.
Ishiguro's amplifier because Mr. Ohshima and Mr. Ishiguro know each other for
many years as Sansui managers, and they share the same value toward the Sansui's
Although Mr. Ishiguro designs and builds Hashimoto transformers at the Hashimoto
plant, he finalizes his transformer design at his home by comparing the sound to
his reference system, which is a fine-tuned Sansui AU-Alpha907 Limited.
Mr. Ishiguro is able to manage this process at his home because he uses the
specially constructed base amps to test his transformers. These special testing
amplifiers were created by Mr. Ken Tanaka who is also ex-Sansui engineer. Mr.
Tanaka has been operating his own vacuum tube amp business (http://www.ken-audio.jp/main/index.html)
for some years, and he helped Hashimoto to start up its high-end tube amp
As you can see now, the difference between Sansui and Hashimoto starts melting
away. The traditional Sansui sound was based on the AU-111 sound, and further
improved by Mr. Ohshima in the 1980's and 1990's. Then, Mr. Ishiguro chose the
improved Sansui sound and developed into the Hashimoto sound. All these
developments have been accomplished by ex-Sansui employees.
Therefore, the Hashimoto sound is nothing but the results of sixty some years of
Sansui’s sound engineering, and further refinement of Mr. Ohshima’s “better
sound” approach in conjunction with Mr. Ishiguro's real music orientation.
Therefore, I'd like to call the Hashimoto Sound as the Neo-Sansui Sound.
It's not the coincidence that Hashimoto is the only company in the world who
still carries the old Sansui logo on their licensed product lines. They have
inherited the intangible assets from Sansui (which has been long lost in
Sansui), and further improved internally. All Hashimoto employees are proud of
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