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Tokyo man creates haven of perfect sound in basement studio, open to all

Yukio Yoshihara points to his own utility pole at his home in the Tokyo city of Musashino. (Mainichi)

Some people go to great lengths for the things they love, but not many would put up a utility pole just for the sake of the perfect music-listening experience. Yukio Yoshihara has done just that, feeding blissfully silent electricity into his basement studio to power his treasured audio system. He even opens his house for music lovers to hold recorded music "concerts."

    "I put great effort to this room. See, there is no noise here," Yoshihara, a 62-year-old former banker, said as he took out a power supply noise measuring device in his Musashino, Tokyo studio. You may not think about how much noise your electricity makes, but then Yoshihara flips on his audio set. His private source is virtually noiseless, especially compared to the buzzing the regular juice produces in his home appliances.

    "When electric noise is picked up by the audio system power supply, it amplifies the noise," Yoshihara said.

    With his own utility pole, he can get power directly to the system, which creates such fantastically clear and powerful sounds that Yoshihara says he now can tell where each instrument was placed when the music was recorded.

    A utility pole is seen being installed in this photo provided by Yukio Yoshihara.

    Yoshihara spent some 3.5 million yen to build the 12-meter-tall utility pole on his property five years ago. It was his dream to have his own power pole and he made it come true when he renovated his home. He says his wife was amazed, not in a good way, by his passion for his hobby.

    Yoshihara's love of recorded music doesn't stop there -- he installed a noiseless air conditioner in the basement and studied static and electromagnetic waves that have a negative impact on semiconductor performance. He also crafted his own speakers. All in all, Yoshihara spent more than 55 million yen over the course of 40 plus years to create his little universe of perfect sound.

    Tetsuya Kato, a representative of luxury audio system developer and distributor Esoteric Co., admires Yoshihara's work, saying, "I've never met someone who is so passionate (about their audio set)."

    A Mainichi Shimbun reporter visited Yoshihara's musical den, and after a lively, 90-minute explanation of his journey to achieve his desired sound -- occasionally dropping some technical terms -- the show began.

    Yoshihara's set list included some of the most celebrated classical pieces. When we were listening to an album that was recorded in a church, I could hear a bird tweet from afar. I felt my pulse rise at one of Mozart's violin sonatas, the sound giving me the feeling that I was actually at a concert.

    As I felt myself being submerged in the music, Yoshihara smiled and said, "My happiness is for others to be happy," listening to music on his audio system.

    Visitors from Europe are seen in Yukio Yoshihara's basement studio. (Photo courtesy of Yukio Yoshihara)

    Since his precious equipment was introduced in a foreign audio magazine as a system that offers unparalleled noiselessness, overseas enthusiasts have started coming to visit.

    Yoshihara has sought the best audio quality by studying acoustics and the Electricity Business Act while still working at the bank. He is looking to establish a genre of "music streaming" where music recorded on CDs and records is played with the best sound quality, and hopes that places where people can enjoy sound on par with live concerts will be established across the country.

    "Even if you can't go see a concert, you can enjoy the best performances anytime by listening to music in an optimal audio environment," Yoshihara said.

    "I inherited my father's genes 100 percent," Yoshihara added. His father worked at a department store and was in charge of audio devices. Yoshihara grew up in a house full of obscure audio equipment and nurtured his hearing ability so he could distinguish different sounds. His obsession truly started after hearing a record of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons that he bought when he was in high school.

    He named his basement studio, "Salon de Musique Yoshihara," and hosts music playing sessions once a month. These gatherings have been attended by conductor Ryuichi Higuchi and writer Mikio Ozawa, younger brother of conductor Seiji Ozawa.

    Attendees sign a guest book at the studio, with some writing, "I felt every bit of the sound in music," and, "I was moved by the dedication to seek the best audio quality."

    "There is no one who argues or gets mad when they listen to music. Anyone is welcome at my studio," Yoshihara comments.

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