Among audiophile analog listeners, JICO is a byword for excellent replicas of turntable needles. But who is this company JICO and is it really as good as its reputation?
We would like to tell you something about JICO.
JICO is a Japanese company with a long tradition. The company’s headquarters are located in the small town of Hamasaka, just a few minutes’ walk from the Japanese Sea, about 200 km from the next large town of Osaka and Kobe. The “Nakakawa Needle Factory” was founded in 1873 by Ichihara Soubei and originally produced sewing needles for the production of kimonos. Background of the company name was the fact that these needles would have to be “procured” from far distances, which was not to be managed well by the limited infrastructure at that time and the cold, snowy winters. The working materials and tools for the manufacturing process were also not available and had to be developed and manufactured in-house. But probably precisely because of this the knowledge of the material and the processing techniques was very large and grew constantly. Following this tradition of buying nothing in technology and producing everything but the raw materials himself, Jico continues to follow this tradition to this day.
1949: Production and sale of steel record needles
1964: the first productions of tonne needles equipped with precious stones are started.
1993: Start of development and production of diamonds and dressers
2004: overseas distribution begins
2008: The Needle Repair Service starts via Internet
2010: Approval for the SME Management Innovation Support Act applied for
2015: first exhibition of record needles and accessories at the “HIGH END 2015” in Munich
2018: Opening of the branch in Tokyo in Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo
2018: JICO is distributed by MrStylus 🙂
Today – roughly speaking – Jico offers 3 different quality ranges: “good replicas”, “replicas, better than other manufacturers” with special cuts and the glorious absolutely high-end “SAS series”.
There are and were many manufacturers for reproduction needles, but only a few good ones. A Swiss manufacturer is still in the race and Jico. The Swiss are equal in this discipline Jico, if not even in some cases better and cheaper by the proximity to home. For this reason we only have needles from this quality range in our shop, if our Swiss offers nothing or the Jico needle is actually better.
“Reproductions, better than other manufacturers”
Now there is of course the music lover with increased demand. Van-den-Hul listeners, for example, or microline-cut fans or hyper-elliptical fanatics (may I be forgiven for the nicely meant names) who can’t find a worthy replacement needle. This needle is then produced in a similar quality (or sometimes even above it) as the original needle by Jico – keyword Shibata cut for example.
Almost unbelievable: what Jico makes here is absolute high-end. From the body, to the needle suspension, needle carrier, partly made of boron or sapphire and cuts in perfection. No effort seems high enough to build the perfect stylus with optimized vibration behavior. Yes, SAS really costs money to manufacture, but is worth every cent with the right hi-fi equipment.