Weekender was recently invited to Hibino’s Sound Laboratory in Chiba where we were treated to some amazing sake and delightful dishes. The main purpose of our visit, however, was to check out an extremely well-reputed and high-tech music system known as the Acoustic Grove System (AGS) that has been developed by Nihon Onkyo Engineering.

Having heard how amazing it was supposed to sound, we were eager to find out whether it would live up to our expectations. It was time to sit back, close our eyes, relax and listen to the music. The opening song was “Close to You” by The Carpenters, firstly played through ordinary speakers then through AGS. The difference was immediately apparent. The latter was crisper, cleaner and sounded far more powerful. Simply put, the contrast was huge, despite being the same song played twice.

With the two tracks that followed, a church hymn and an opera song, the impact of AGS seemed to grow even stronger. The distinctive sound of each instrument could be heard clearly, which certainly wasn’t the case when listening to the same CDs through ordinary speakers. Everyone in attendance, including sound engineers and music producers, agreed: the Acoustic Grove System had lived up to its hype.

According to staff at Nihon Onkyo Engineering, AGS has been designed to provide listeners with a sensation of endless space, similar to what you might experience in a forest. Sounds emitted in the woods are said to have a rich quality in the mid- to high-frequency range through the repetitive, complicated scattering offered by trees, which also has a noise reduction effect. It therefore comes as no surprise that so many organizations are keen to get their hands on the system including broadcasting stations, recording studios and music halls.

After a short presentation and listening experience, it was time for some food and sake. Dassai 23 was the pick of the alcohol on offer. One of the country’s most polished sakes, it has a very rich texture and mellow flavor. A wonderful drink to sip on while listening to music through the Acoustic Grove System. Allowed to choose our own song for the final AGS experience, we opted for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which sounded better than ever.

For those who want to experience AGS in Tokyo, Kennedy House Ginza is well worth a visit. It’s a live house with a great atmosphere, sumptuous food and a great sound. You can also find a full list of shops around Japan with listening spaces here.

For more information about the Acoustic Grove System, go to www.noe.co.jp/en/product/pdt1/pd10/