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Japan is the headphone paradise, and here's the proof - Page 8

post #106 of 196

As an American I agree. I went to a local Sam Ash and all of the headphones on display were treated like crap.

post #107 of 196
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshal Banana View Post

If you go to Osaka, there is a heaphones/earphones paradise at Nipponbashi (Dendentown). The name of the store is E-Earphone. They have more products than they have in the big stores like Yodobashi Camera or Bic Camera, a second hand section and lower prices. Here is the home page:  http://www.e-earphone.jp/


Aaaaaahhhh! Fifth floor. I only checked out stores on the street level when I was there at denden town. Wish I had known this before.
post #108 of 196
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

If they did the same in the US, it wouldn't take long before all those headphones were stolen or broken. Japanese have very low stealing rates and generally have better respect for property belonging to others. Even after the tsunami disaster, people didn't loot stores, they patiently were waiting in the long lines. Looting has always been a big problem after every major natural disaster in the rest of world, but not in Japan. That's the reason, there's quite big cultural differences amongst others. Of course Japan isn't free of problems either but this is one thing I have much respect for and why I like Japan.


Another thing that surprised me and shows how socially conscious japanese are, is the lack of trash cans on the streets, yet the streets are never filled with litters. One time I had to walk for almost an hour with food container in my hand, before finding a trash can.
post #109 of 196

I went into Yodobashi today since I had some spare time. The "iyahon" (earphone) section extends to where that guy had his back to us and you can only see half the display shelves, the others extending just as far behind the cabinet on the left, and not including the wall cabinets, iPod and Sony sections and yeah, it is pretty insane. Unfortunately most of the shelves contain cheap fashion headphone and IEM crap. They did even have Stax in one of the cabinets for sale and just about everything common on Head-fi was on display and available for testing this time.

 

If anyone comes to Japan, get a rail pass and come by Fukuoka (Hakata).

 

Yodobashi earphone section

post #110 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

I went into Yodobashi today since I had some spare time. The "iyahon" (earphone) section extends to where that guy had his back to us and you can only see half the display shelves, the others extending just as far behind the cabinet on the left, and not including the wall cabinets, iPod and Sony sections and yeah, it is pretty insane. Unfortunately most of the shelves contain cheap fashion headphone and IEM crap. They did even have Stax in one of the cabinets for sale and just about everything common on Head-fi was on display and available for testing this time.

 

If anyone comes to Japan, get a rail pass and come by Fukuoka (Hakata).

 

Yodobashi earphone section



i'd love some store like this in U.S lol save a lot of time searching on head-fi lol Anyway, dose anyone live around boston area? I couldn't find many audio stores around here. 

post #111 of 196

I need to stop checking this thread, I get so Jealous every time. O_O Now it's even hard to find one store in Finland whit a decent selection of headphones to try out and if you do then they are usually special stores with high prices and requires you to tell the people at the counter which headphone to try out etc which is a hazzle, I've never even taken the option as trying out in a store as an alternative as it's usually just not an alternative... Imagine if you had the possibility as these Japanese people do, I would do it only out of interest even if I didn't plan on buying them. LOL


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 8/16/11 at 3:21am
post #112 of 196

As a french guy who lived almost 10 years in the US and been in japan for the last 4 year or so, I have experienced 3 very different cultures as far as customer service is concerned...

 

It is very dangerous to generalize (for example small businesses operate very differently from large chains, and that's true in any country) but my experience in the US has generally been:

  1. At the presale stage, I would generally feel much more like a customer in a store in the US than in France where you can sometimes feel like you're really bothering the clerk / cashier / whomever in charge by simply being there
  2. At the post-sale stage / customer support, it can go downhill very very quickly in the US, esp. large corporations who love to make you go round and round through voice activated customer support. That or you'll be waiting 29 minutes to get hanged up in the midst of the support call.

 

In my opinion, the service is such in the US because people are not willing to fund that expensive activity that is customer support. If you always strive for rock bottom prices, someone has to cut the costs somewhere and post-sales support is a good candidate.

 

Now, about Japan, in my opinion again, and making gross generalizations too:

  1. Basically the customer is truly the king. Politeness like no equal (to the point of sounding fake as it is almost too much).
  2. Prices are comparatively much higher than in the US and that's not just because of difference in buying power, it's also because there is a very large portion of the cost to finance both pre and post sales support.
  3. You cannot return goods (like the mandatory 30 days return policy in the US, no questions asked) so people will want to go check them out at the stores (stores are thus not dying from competition against internet sales like in the US)

 

Now, specifically for headphones, I think there are several reasons why the stores are so well furnished as illustrated in this thread, some of which have already been mentioned:

  1. Public transportation: while most people in the US use their car to move around, public transportation is huge in Japan, in particular big cities like Tokyo. This extended commuting begs for headphones to distract and or isolate you from the background noise (I think most drivers are safe enough not to use headphones while driving ;)
  2. Fashion: as Currawong mentioned, headphone is just as much a fashion accessory as it is a commodity for listening to your iPod and other smart phone over here.
  3. Space: to some extent, I am sure quite a few audiophiles are privileging headphone over speaker listening because they're living in a small apartment with neighbors all around (and indeed, culturally, the tendency is that of great respect toward the other so no blasting of speaker system at home). 
  4. Price: as mentioned above, prices are not discounted much in Japan and often at or close to MSRP (so for those curious about stax prices, you can go check Stax website, it's the same price at Yobobashi and other Bic Camera chain stores...). As a result of this, there are sufficient margins to pay for shelf time and all the sales staff associated.
  5. Return policy: as mentioned above, sales are final so most people will want to be able to check the item at the store AND listen to it.

 

To conclude, I will say there is no fantasy land and everything comes at a price... If the US consumers were willing to pay the extra amount of money for such kind of presale support / if there was a real market for headphones within the common population, you would have just the same stores as here. Again, that's all imo and gross generalization ;).

 

 

post #113 of 196

Arnaud. That is a very insightful comment. Thank you.

post #114 of 196
well at least i have another excuse to visit besides the women biggrin.gif
post #115 of 196

Thanks for your post arnaud.

 

Yes I think Europe, the U.S. and Japan are very different.

 

I didn't exactly understand why internet sales are taking over in the US and stores are safe in Japan, but I don't like the trend of internet sales and that famous bookstores like borders are closing down and people are buying books online instead, yes that's just books but what if we can't even buy clothes or cars in real life in the future and just browse them online ugh, and at supermarkets in the U.S. they are taking away the check-out chicks and you just buy your food with a machine and insert money now.

 

As for e-earphone in Osaka, that store also has very competetive prices online by the way.

 

 

post #116 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post


I didn't exactly understand why internet sales are taking over in the US and stores are safe in Japan, but I don't like the trend of internet sales and that famous bookstores like borders are closing down and people are buying books online instead, yes that's just books but what if we can't even buy clothes or cars in real life in the future and just browse them online ugh, and at supermarkets in the U.S. they are taking away the check-out chicks and you just buy your food with a machine and insert money now.

 

As for e-earphone in Osaka, that store also has very competetive prices online by the way.

 

 


It is very much to the detriment of my own pocket lining but I still insist on buying all my head-gear in person.

Sometimes it evokes a strange reaction from the sales staff. Like the time that I bought my M50's at DJ Warehouse

on Victoria St. The guy said 'Why did you bother coming down from Blackburn? Just jump online dude'

 

I said that I still enjoy the process of face to face purchases for some things. 'Fair enough' he replied with a smirk.

 

post #117 of 196

I haven't been there, do they let you demo headphones at djwarehouse on Victoria St. like in Japan? 


Edited by kiteki - 8/16/11 at 7:26pm
post #118 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

Thanks for your post arnaud.

 

Yes I think Europe, the U.S. and Japan are very different.

 

I didn't exactly understand why internet sales are taking over in the US and stores are safe in Japan, but I don't like the trend of internet sales and that famous bookstores like borders are closing down and people are buying books online instead, yes that's just books but what if we can't even buy clothes or cars in real life in the future and just browse them online ugh, and at supermarkets in the U.S. they are taking away the check-out chicks and you just buy your food with a machine and insert money now.

 

As for e-earphone in Osaka, that store also has very competetive prices online by the way.

 

 


Stores aren't safe in Japan either actually, there's been reports of massive closing downs of corner and privately owned stores because of them being edged out by massive retail chains, which in turn is feeling the squeeze by online stores.  One thing Japan has that is quite unique too are retail shop streets - basically a long stretch of nicely under covered road with nothing but small privately owned shops, and those had been closing down really quick too.  An economy in continous stagnation/board line recession for two decades with very poor future prospect is going to drive young consumers looking for the best bargains (or simply not spend at all, like in Japan), that's the way free market capitalism works.  

 


Edited by nanaholic - 8/16/11 at 7:27pm
post #119 of 196

MMMmh I'm getting such an image of stagnation and border-line recession from this thread ...

post #120 of 196
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

MMMmh I'm getting such an image of stagnation and border-line recession from this thread ...

 

A few audiophiles willing to spend thousands "just for headphones" is hardly representative of the consumer sentiments in Japan as a whole, if you read Japanese you can easily find many academic reports blaming the stagnation on low consumer demands for the good past 5 years or so.  I've only left Japan a couple of years ago after spending 7 years there and let me tell you the situation is very tough there for the small retailers.    

 

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