Four years after his passing, renowned Japanese engineer Ken Ishiwata is continuing to write hi-fi history through the Rotel A11 Tribute amplifier and Rotel CD-11 Tribute CD player.. As the last projects by the former Marantz engineer, these two devices are a brilliant homage to Ken Ishitawa’s expertise and unique talent.
Rotel A11 and CD-11 Tribute: the Ishiwata touch
In 2019, famous Japanese engineer Ken Ishiwata ended a collaboration of over four decades with Marantz. Having become a brand ambassador, he was behind some of the manufacturer’s best electronics, shaping the sonic landscape with limited editions signed with his name or the initials KI. After a meeting with Rotel, this talented engineer set himself the challenge of perfecting the Rotel A11 amplifier and its Rotel CD-11 CD player, the brand’s two bestsellers. Sadly, Ken Ishiwata passed away before the final development phase. Despite this, the prototypes he oversaw enabled Rotel to pay him a final tribute.
Rotel A11 Tribute: a revamped classic
When Ken Ishiwata was entrusted with the task of perfecting the Rotel A11 amplifier, which had already won several awards from the specialist press at the time, the engineer quickly identified several avenues for improvement. Over the course of many listening sessions, he replaced almost half the components in the audio signal path with more efficient models. The toroidal power transformer designed by Rotel is combined with new capacitors to maximize current capacity and deliver 2 x 50 watts of dynamic class AB power. All critical circuits benefit from meticulous tuning, and new damping materials help reduce interference. These improvements contribute to a richer, more expressive sound.
The five analog RCA inputs (including one phono input) all benefit from improvements made by Ken Ishiwata. The Rotel A11 Tribute promises to pay homage to every source with which it is paired. Last but not least, the aptX HD Bluetooth receiver has been retained to facilitate wireless music playback.
Rotel CD-11 Tribute: a reference player
To accompany the Rotel A11 Tribute amplifier, Ken Ishiwata also turned his attention to the Rotel CD-11 CD player. To optimize it, he followed the same approach, changing essential components, drastically reducing vibrations and spending countless hours listening to refine every aspect. Indeed, the engineer was known to spend many hours listening and re-listening to music, fine-tuning every component until he was satisfied. As a result, the Rotel CD-11 Tribute has become one of the best players in its category, as the Diapason D’or award testifies: “Never at fault during sudden changes in intensity (Berry Hayward Consort percussion), the CD11 Tribute proves to be precise and even studious to the point of being scrupulous, without sacrificing emotion.”
Rotel A11 and CD-11 Tribute: accessible excellence
The Rotel A11 Tribute amplifier (€599) and Rotel CD-11 Tribute CD player (€499) are the last witnesses to Ken Ishiwata’s genius. They offer a unique sound and the Ishiwata signature like no other electronics ever will.