KI Ruby: 40 years at Marantz

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KI Ruby: 40 years at Marantz

Ken Ishiwata is making the transition from guru to a sage now that he has 40 years under his belt with Marantz, the company he went to after getting his start in the industry with Pioneer. Superscope bought Marantz from founder Saul B Marantz in 1964 and moved production to the former Standard Radio facility in Japan. In the next decade they set up Marantz Europe in Belgium but found that they were getting a very high rejection rate with incoming product from Japan. They needed someone who knew about both the business and engineering who could work with the European wing of the company and manufacturing in Japan. Ken Ishiwata first went to Marantz Europe in 1977 but asked for more than they were prepared to pay, in 1978 the company managed to persuade the Japanese wing to pay Ken’s ransom and he moved to Belgium. He’s clearly not just a canny engineer. 

Ken spent three months at the Japanese plant and was surprised by how high the standard of quality control was. Coming from Pioneer he hadn't expected the company to be so rigorous in its QC, nor that every unit would be tested in an industry where sample testing was the norm. Which made it all the more mystifying that they were rejecting so many units in Europe.When he returned to Belgium he discovered that they were using different measurement parameters which had errors that caused perfectly good products to be incorrectly rejected. Ken discovered this by measuring the rejected units and finding that 90% of them were up to spec by the high standards of the manufacturing plant. By acting as an intermediary between the two arms of the company he was able to sort out these problems.

His first products for Marantz were loudspeakers which were made in Belgium using Japanese transducers, he then went on to work on amplifiers. In 1980 Marantz was purchased by Philips a move which allowed Ken to learn a lot about digital audio and resulted in his signature being appended to Marantz CD players from the mid eighties onwards.

KI Ruby
The new KI Ruby anniversary components were demonstrated with Q-Acoustics Concept 500 speakers in a large and well damped room in the basement of the Royal Concertgebouw concert hall, Amsterdam. The speakers toed in to give as wide a sweet spot as possible for the assembled journalists. The main source was a MacBook Pro running Bootcamp and Windows with JRiver Media Centre 23 as the playback software. Running JRiver on Windows on a Mac rather than Audirvana as has been the case in the past is apparently because Windows and JRiver are very popular in Europe, the Mac/Bootcamp element because Ken is a commited Mac user.

Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam