I heard the recording of the Emperor Showa's imperial rescript at the end of the war was also made by Denon.
Okazeri: Yes, that is true. It was the DP-17K portable disk recorder made by Japan Electric Sound Company that recorded and played back the sound board. At the end of the war in 1945, there were no tape recorders or anything like that, so we used acetate discs and played them back immediately after recording. Recording was done by engraving a groove with a cutter on an acetate board.
Since its foundation in 1939, Japan Electric Sound Company supplied NHK with a variety of broadcasting equipment. Before the establishment of Japan Electric Sound Company, there were no domestic recording equipment in Japan. It is known that at that time, a German radio and television apparatus company Telefunken provided Japan with its disc recorders. However, it was very expensive despite the excellent performance of its equipment. With a desire to make domestic products, Japan Electric Sound Company was asked to develop and manufacture a domestic disk recorder. That technology was also used in recording and replaying the recorded discs of the Imperial acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, which is related to the historical moment that determined the fate of Japan.
Is it true that Japan Electric Sound Company, Denon's predecessor, was a manufacturer of commercial broadcasting equipment?
Okazeri: Yes, it is. At first, we supplied NHK with broadcasting equipment because there was no commercial broadcasting except for NHK at that time. Even after the war, we had a close relationship with NHK, and we continued supplying them with broadcasting equipment, mainly focusing on disc recorders. After 1951, when other commercial broadcasting companies started appearing, our production increased even more.
The DL-103 cartridge, which would later become a catalyst for the development of consumer audio equipment, was made to meet the strict specifications required by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) in 1964, when they started FM stereo broadcasting, to make it compatible with their broadcasting equipment.
The DL-103 may look like a consumer product, but it was originally intended for professional use. After entering the consumer market with the DL-103, the Denon brand tried to expand its business with record players.
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So Denon's first product for consumer use was the DL-103 cartridge, which was developed for FM stereo broadcasting at first.
Okazeri: That's right. Japan Electric Sound Company was a hardcore professional equipment manufacturer, but the broadcast equipment market was limited in size because the people who would buy it were only broadcasting companies. Although Japan Electric Sound Company was attracted to the consumer market, it could not enter it with its mass production technology and sales.
The real opportunity for Japan Electric Sound Company to enter the consumer market happened when the company became a subsidiary of Nippon Columbia in 1947, and then turned into the audio equipment division of Nippon Columbia in 1963 through an absorption merger.
At that time, the DL-103 was used in FM stereo broadcasts. Since then most Japanese broadcasters have probably used the DL-103 to play records, and although CDs and other digital content are now the sources of broadcasts, I believe they are still using the DL-103 to play analog records.
When we launched Denon products into the consumer market we first sold the DL-103 cartridge, which became the standard equipment for broadcasting. Presenting the DL-103 cartridge directly to the consumer market was a big step into the beginning of consumer audio equipment. It took place in 1970.
Is the “consumer” DL-103 the same as the DL-103 used by broadcasters?
Okazeri: Yes, it is the exact same thing. In fact the DL-103, which has the exact same structure as it used to, is still being manufactured at Shirakawa factory (D&M Shirakawa Audio Works) in Fukushima. In total we have been making this product for 56 years.