For Love of Music: The Legacy of Ken Ishiwata

Few individuals possess an ear for the fidelity and signature musicality of Marantz more than Ken Ishiwata. His work contributes greatly to the reputation of pristine musical reproduction that Marantz has achieved among discriminating audiophiles all over the world.

2018 marks Ken's 40th year with Marantz. In celebration of his many contributions over almost two-thirds of the company history, two new premium components have been added to the Reference Series: the PM-KI Ruby integrated amplifier and SA-KI Ruby signature super audio player, both engineered and extensively tuned by Ishiwata and his team. Recently, Ken reflected on his decades of work and the passion for great music that drove it.

A career marked by innovation
Ken Ishiwata entered the Hi-Fi business during the late 1960s as an equipment designer at Pioneer. About a decade later, Marantz Japan offered him the opportunity to oversee product marketing and act as liaison between the Marantz Japanese, European and American divisions. He accepted, and thus began his legacy.

Ken's impact is boundless. He introduced the Marantz slogan, "Because Music Matters" — a statement that answers to why he dedicated his life to the pursuit of true sonic fidelity. Additionally, Ken recognized the potential of CDs when many considered them a passing fad, and encouraged Marantz engineers to accommodate them. He stays abreast of new Hi-Fi developments without sacrificing the hallmark audio quality or design excellence of Marantz.

Balancing acts
Ken typically brainstorms product campaigns at least two years before release. For example, work began on the KI Ruby Series four years ago, requiring developers to anticipate possible changes in listening priorities. Casual listeners favor uninterrupted digital sound reproduction and lower power consumption over sound quality, because of how often they listen on computer or mobile. Audiophiles are the opposite. The ideal Marantz product functionality can perfectly capture audio from any source, echoing Ken's description of listening as its own balancing act: "Everything is digital, but humans hear in analog."

Thus, the SA-KI Ruby plays CDs, SACDs, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM and multiple digital formats (including high-frequency/bitrate PCM and DSD). Meanwhile, the PM-KI Ruby features the most advanced phono inputs to provide unparalleled quality for vinyl lovers. Successfully appealing to both ends of the listening spectrum ensures the satisfaction of all who cherish perfect sound, no matter how they listen.

Legacy of excellence
Ken notes how elements of Saul Marantz's original Model 7 and 8 remain present in modern Hi-Fi design, and hopes his own innovations are similarly long-lasting. Working in audio has thus been the ideal medium for him, because as he puts it: "Music will never die. The ways people listen may change but the desire to embrace and appreciate music never will."

We thank Ken for his hand in shaping Marantz, and look forward to sharing the KI Ruby Series with audiophiles everywhere.