Soulnote Audio Philosophy (Part 1)

Oct 27, 2023Jeff Wells
Soulnote Audio Philosophy (Part 1)

SOULNOTE Chief Designer Kato's Design Philosophy Series: Part 1

(Translated from Japanese)
Many may not be familiar with SOULNOTE, so let's take a moment to introduce it in segments.

SOULNOTE is a premium audio brand under the umbrella of CSR Corporation located in Kanagawa Prefecture. Established in 2004 by the former director of Marantz Japan, Norinaga Nakazawa, the company now boasts a team of around 50 members.

A Bit About Me
Upon completing my postgraduate studies at Tottori University, I embarked on my career at NEC in 1989, where I contributed to the Audio Engineering Department.
Following NEC's departure from the audio sector, my next chapter began at Nippon Marantz. My responsibilities there encompassed the development of non-feedback power amplifiers for professional applications and the PHILIPS LHH series.

In 2005, an opportunity with Nakazawa saw me transitioning to CSR, primarily focusing on SOULNOTE design. My portfolio included designs like dc1.0, da1.0, sa1.0, sc1.0, SA710, and SC710.

The pivotal moment in my career arrived in 2016 when I was elevated to the role of Chief Engineer at SOULNOTE.

I was given the mandate to oversee all aspects, from product planning, electrical and structural design to sound quality management and promotion. Nakazawa's guiding principle for me was concise: "Make SOULNOTE the world's premier audio brand."

While "world's best" was a phrase Nakazawa was fond of, it wasn't without direction. I aimed to bridge the gap between technical specifications and sound quality – a long-standing enigma in the audio industry.

By pioneering techniques that were either untouched or unattainable by other manufacturers, we hoped to redefine the industry's understanding of quality. Recognizing the reasons for this spec-sound quality disparity became the foundation for SOULNOTE's present design philosophy.

Now, with the right resources at my disposal, our mission is to bring this vision to life. The journey continues.

In 2021, Kazuyoshi Takanashi was appointed President of CSR and my role as SOULNOTE Chief Engineer remained unchanged. SOULNOTE's unparalleled approach and resultant sound quality were acknowledged when, by the close of the year, models S-3R, X-3, and Z-3 were chosen as the reference system for StereoSound magazine's listening room, a leading publication in Japan.

As we step into 2022, we're gearing up for another milestone. SOULNOTE is poised to make a grand entrance into the North American and European markets, starting with the Munich High-End Show this year.

Timeline of Models Developed Under My Tenure as Chief Engineer:

  • 2016: A-1, C-1, E-1, A-0
  • 2017: D-1, A-2, E-2
  • 2018: D-2, D-1N
  • 2019: S-3
  • 2020: S-3ver2, P-3
  • 2021: ZEUS (D-3, Z-3, X-3, RCC-1), S-3 Ref.
  • 2023: ZEUS A-3 (Updated)

Stay tuned as I delve into my design philosophy in the upcoming section.

Soulnote Philosophy