Few companies in the world of Hi-Fi Audio can boast such a rich history as Marantz. In 2013, the company celebrated its 60th anniversary. In order to understand how this brand managed to gain and maintain such a unique position in the market – the adoration of connoisseurs – audiophiles and the recognition of ordinary people “on the street” for high quality – it is necessary to trace the history of the company right back to its very origins – to the era of the birth of the music industry sound recording as we know it today.
The company’s history begins in 1948, when music lover Saul Bernard Marantz, like many people of that time, became interested in high-quality sound reproduction. A descendant of Polish immigrants, Brooklyn-born Saul Marantz had a passion for music, played guitar, worked as a graphic artist in a publishing house, and was quite technically savvy, constantly tinkering in the basement. It often happens that circumstances themselves make the choice for people like Saul. Saul was lucky with his circumstances.
Saul Bernard Marantz
It all started when 78 rpm records suddenly became a thing of the past, replaced by long-playing records. So Saul sat down in his basement and began developing an amplifier for the new standard of records, since in those early days the quality of LPs suffered greatly from the instability of the recording characteristics. By putting together components he purchased from a Manhattan store, Marantz built a preamplifier he called the Consolette. A group of friends to whom Sol showed his invention immediately appreciated the device and immediately attacked with requests to build exactly the same one for them. Sol reproduced his Consolette more than once or twice for friendly reasons, until his wife persuaded him to make a small batch for sale. This fueled even more interest in the development.
Marantz Audio Consolette (1952)
Based on the Consolette, Marantz designed the Model 1 preamplifier, which became his first hit. This device was equipped with a rotary volume control with loudness compensation (Loudness), had a remote power supply, which was completely unusual at that time, and had amazing sound quality that amazed music critics of that time. It remains one of the most musical preamps today. In addition, Model 1 had seven inputs, one of which was for TV audio. Even then, Saul anticipated modern home theaters by as much as 40 years. A year later, the number of orders for Model 1 increased to 400.
Marantz Model 2 (1956)
In the mid-late fifties, the hi-fi market was created by enthusiasts, they were distinguished by their love for their work, even to the point of elevating it to the rank of art. Therefore, Saul’s main occupation was absorption in development, and not aggressive conquest of the market. Although, it should be noted, the American market in this decade was practically at the feet of Saul Marantz. The late fifties and sixties were the golden age for Marantz. Model 1 was followed by developments with unassuming names: Model 2 (power amplifier), Model 3 (mono two-way splitter), Model 4 – power supply (and its more affordable version Model 5) and, finally, Model 6 – stereo adapter for working with two Model 1 preamps.
Marantz Model 7 (1957)
But Marantz’s swan song was the Model 7c preamp, which many consider the company’s most significant creation. This model lasted on the market for 11 years. No audio equipment manufacturer has ever achieved such success. Moreover, the Model 7c has gone through several reincarnations: in the late 70s – as a DIY kit that was extremely popular, and in 1996, Marantz resumed its production in tandem with the Model 8a stereo power amplifier and the Model 9 monoblock. And one last detail. : The Model 7c preamplifier also influenced the biography of one person who later greatly influenced the Marantz company. This man was Ken Ishiwata,
At that very time, a Japanese schoolboy. Ken spent a lot of time visiting his classmate, whose father was passionate about music. One day the boys were looking at a new family acquisition: a Marantz Model 7c turntable. Ken will then remember this day for a long time: both how simple the device seemed to him, and how he was struck by the deep, exciting female voice recorded on a jazz record. Ken had never heard anything like it before. A fascinated high school student dreams of how he could acquire the same device, and finds nothing better than to ask his friend’s father for a little while. The few days for which Ken was lent the Model 7c were very productive.
Marantz SLT 12 (1964)
In addition to receiving aesthetic pleasure from listening to records, Ken Ishiwata carefully copied the circuit, hoping that he could assemble a completely similar device for himself. But, despite the external similarity, the “Model 7c” that came out of the hands of young Ishiwata did not make a sound when turned on for the first time. After a few more days, stubborn Ken finally achieved, albeit poorly, a sound. What was the reason for this: teenage impressionability, love of music, or the location of the stars that destined this person to work on acoustic equipment in the future is unknown, but after 20 years it was Ken Ishiwata who became one of the key figures in the company and brought Marantz equipment to a legendary level .
Marantz Model 2245 (1976)
Saul Marantz was not a businessman in the full sense of the word, he was first and foremost an inventor and a passionate person. In the early sixties, his affairs began to go from bad to worse. One of the reasons for this was the too high cost of developing the Model 10 FM tuner, which reduced the competitiveness of Marantz equipment and led to financial problems.
Marantz PH 32 (1982)
In 1964 the company had to be sold. The buyer, the Superscope company, was known for two things: the production of large-format films and the sale in the United States of products of the Japanese company Sony under its own brand. Superscope was doing great until Sony caught on and decided to sell its products under its own brand. It was at this moment, when Superscope management lost considerable profits, that they turned their attention to Marantz.
Marantz CD 63 (1983)
Saul remained as president of the company for another four years, but in 1968 the Marantz family finally separated, and his creation began to live an independent life. Nevertheless, the cooperation between Marantz and Superscope was mutually beneficial: thanks to skillful management, the problem of high production costs was solved. It was during this period that the transition was made from tube amplifiers to transistor ones. In order to reduce their cost, an agreement was concluded with the Japanese company Standard Radio Corporation, which at that time specialized in the production of radio receivers. According to the agreement, the design of Marantz equipment was developed in America, and assembly was carried out in Japan (compared to the American industry, the Japanese industry was then in its teens). So, the Japanese were infected with the hi-fi virus, a dozen of those who started their work at the Standard Radio Corporation continue to do so now. True, the company is already called Marantz Japan.
Marantz Music Link (1990)
It would seem that Marantz’s business was going well, a huge plant was built near Los Angeles, and industrial production was established. But the dizziness from success played its cruel joke: the excess profits were misused, and the company began to go bankrupt. Salvation came from Europe: Philips began to buy the company, first in parts, and by 1980 Marantz was bought out entirely.
Now the Marantz company was a truly explosive mixture of cultures of the East, Old and New Worlds, but did not change the principles of elitism. In addition, Marantz was lucky again: by the end of the 70s, digital audio began to appear, and Philips had developments for CD in its arsenal. So by the beginning of the eighties, Marantz again took a leading position, releasing several CD players that became leaders in their class. The first of this line, CD-63, appeared in 1982.
Marantz Arch (1995)
Philips remained at the helm for 19 years, providing Marantz with unique access to the cutting-edge digital audio technologies developed by its engineers. By this time, a man, Ken Ishiwata, who so deftly assembled a copy of the Model 7c at school age, began working at Marantz. Today, Ken Ishiwata is the No. 1 figure and the ideologist of many technical and design solutions of the company. Despite the fact that his business card indicates the modest position of Brand Director, Ken Ishiwata’s contribution to the development of the company is difficult to overestimate. His “autograph” (KI Signature) on the front panel of the best models is a kind of passport to eternity, not to mention a guarantee of the highest quality. Ishiwata’s enthusiasm and love for music is comparable to that of Saul Marantz. The “educational activities” of Ishiwata are well known, making a show out of every public speech and captivating listeners with his energy and charm.
Marantz SA-1 (2000)
The Philips period ended in 2001 when Marantz Japan Inc acquired the rights to the brand and all overseas commercial subsidiaries. Today, Marantz is part of D&M Holdings, a holding company created in 2002 to bring together Marantz and Denon, manufacturers of quality hi-fi equipment, in a strategic alliance. Marantz is premium equipment for the discerning buyer. On the one hand, the company continues to improve its hi-end products (as evidenced by numerous awards). But at the same time, it turns its attention to the segment of more affordable mid-hi-end equipment.
Marantz SC-7 S1 (2005)
Today we can safely state the fact that no matter who owns the Marantz company, the essence of its ideology remains unshakable – the music at the output of the audio path must remain the way the composer intended it to be heard and ultimately mixed by the sound engineer. The company’s famous motto is “Because Music Matters,” which can be translated as “Because music is worth it.” A special place among the company’s products is occupied by models marked with the KI Signature index, which symbolizes the personal signature of audio guru Ken Ishiwata. A talented engineer took a personal part in the development and testing of these models, which, of course, guarantees decent sound quality and the most comfortable control.
Marantz Consolette MS-7000 (2013)
The range of products manufactured by Marantz consists of equipment that can be divided into several groups. The first includes classic Hi-Fi components – SACD & CD Player, tuners, turntables, stereo receivers and CD receivers. The aforementioned elite series of KI Pearl amplifiers and KI Pearl CD players can be included in a separate category. The third includes theatrical components: AV processors, AV amplifiers, AV receivers and Blu-ray players. Lifestyle technology enthusiasts will certainly be interested in the compact Marantz Melody Music systems. The younger generation of music lovers will, of course, prefer networked products (audio players, AV processors, AV receivers, Blu-ray players, network CD receivers) and accessories, which include Bluetooth audio and iPod docking stations.