The Ecstasy and Agony

Marantz America is supporting the launch of their attractive KI Pearl components with a decidedly august hardcover book and matching dual-layer SACD. Like the KI Pearls themselves, both the book and SACD celebrate audio designer Ken Ishiwata's 30-year relationship with Marantz and offer insights into his life and work.

Ishiwata—violinist, fashion photographer, and electronics engineer—built his first amplifier when he was only 10 years old. While in high school, a friend's father sat Ishiwata down in front of a hi-fi system built around a Marantz Model 7C preamplifier. It was Ishiwata's first encounter with Marantz, and it proved to be a pivotal event in his life. "The music that came through it moved me so much that even today I can vividly remember the emotion and exhilaration of that special moment."

We are told that Ishiwata, and by extension, Marantz, is most interested in feeling. Throughout, the book strives to make a distinction between the greater world of high-end audio, distracted by things as superficial as accuracy and warmth, and Marantz, whose sole interest is in the much more substantial expression of human emotion. Of course, technical specifications and accomplishments are important, but only inasmuch as they work towards unlocking "the power, the excitement, and the emotion of music." The SA-KI Pearl SACD player ($2999) and PM-KI Pearl integrated amplifier ($3599), therefore, "celebrate a sublime love of music and express human emotion in all its richness."

Each component has a limited production of 500 units. A number of SA-KI Pearls have been released to Marantz retailers, while PM-KI Pearls will be available this September. The anniversary book ($29.99) and SACD ($49.99) will also be available in limited quantities and can be bought separately or as a boxed-set ($74.99).

Marantz enthusiasts and especially KI Pearl owners may want to add to their experience by browsing the book's heavy pages as they listen to the accompanying SACD. All performances feature singer Katelijne van Otterloo with Erik Robaard (bass), Michiel Buursen (piano), Wim Kegel (drums), and George Pelupessy (percussion). The songs, all jazz standards including "Summertime," "Misty," and "Girl From Ipanema," were selected by Ishiwata and recorded by Ishiwata and Fritz de With at Smederij Studio in Holland. The performances and sound quality are as clean and stately as the book itself.

All together, this is an appropriately god-like treatment of the protector of the Marantz brand, Ken Ishiwata. There can be no doubt that the company treasures and shares Ishiwata's commitment to recreating through music and sound "the ecstasy and agony" of the human condition.

Phil's picture

Marantz 7C preamp?

Stephen Mejias's picture

Yes, thank you.