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Remembering Ken Ishiwata.
Colored photograph of silver Marantz Receiver with blue illuminated display. Ken Ishiwata.

When I was young I was really attracted to certain stereo equipment brands. On the other hand, some did not inspire me at all.

My tastes ran to extremes.

  •  those huge receivers
    • radio/amplifier combinations of the late ‘seventies
    • large, heavy chassis with wooden ‘cheeks’ – very unwieldy and impractical
    • polished metal dissected by big, horizontal radio tuning scales, illuminated to great effect.

Pioneer, Yamaha, Sansui, Sherwood were especially memorable designs.

At the other end was Naim Audio from the United Kingdom – I particularly liked their script. Black and white graphic of logo white lower case word "naim" with a white arc above it. Black background. Ken Ishiwata.
• black cases with a silver frame – the ultimate in minimalism
• about 15,000 Australian dollars for two boxes.

I could only dream!

Over the years Naim products changed, went to mushroom pink, then to a textured black, which was better. Then no texture!

I really miss the original.

Through all this time there was Marantz. They did make big receivers but, though I knew that audiophiles regarded them well, they were not for me.

I think it was that brash, large script. Big and bold, a font you might see in tooled leather, as big as the American West! Ah, not for me!

Mr Ken Ishiwata appeared in various Hi-fi magazines.

There he was : a snappy dresser – like Miami vice with taste – as well as an electronics guru.

Seemed to be saying in the ads:
“I’ve been working , but not too hard. “, “I’m a genius but I don’t like to brag” and “I’ve designed something special. It’s bespoke, for those who can appreciate, with my K.I. signature.”

Around this time, I was in the market for a new CD player. The reviews were good.

I went to the store.

The salesman rang the distributor but came back with a sober face. “None left, I’m afraid, however the standard model is still available. The good oil on it is it’s still a fine piece of kit.”

So I had heard, but I only wanted the one tweaked by Ken.

It was a clever campaign because, I think, Ken was a truly interesting fellow.

As in good storytelling but with a picture, the advertising copy communicated a character whom you wanted to know. It was the personality behind the product that made you want to know more.

Mr Ken Ishiwata sadly passed away in late 2019 after 41 years with Marantz.

And, even though the script on the products had been made smaller by then, Mr Ishiwata did create a whole new image.

Vale, Mr Ishiwata. You nearly hooked me, but it wasn’t to be.

Image Credits

1.Marantz 2270 Receiver CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
CC BY-SA 4.0

2. Naim Audio Logo

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