Rotel Ken Ishiwata Tribute amp and CD player unveiled

posted on Friday, 28th August 2020 by Steve May

High Res Audio  Hi-fi 

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Japanese Hi-Fi specialist Rotel has announced special editions of the company’s popular A11 Integrated Amplifier and CD11 CD player models, as a tribute to legendary audio engineer and industry personality Ken Ishiwata.

When Ishiwata left Marantz, it was assumed he retired his tools - however he actually partnered with Rotel, to produce a Special Edition pairing of the brand’s best-selling amplifier and CD player.

Unfortunately he never lived to see the project to fruition, but with much of the work undertaken, the exercise was taken to completion by his longtime business associate Karl-Heinz Fink.

As had been done many times to great effect at Marantz, Ishiwata identified products most worthy modification and then suggested component changes to the engineers, in order to elevate performance to new levels.

“Having both been in the Hi-Fi industry for a similar amount of time, I was in the same audiophile circles with Ken over the years, as were the Tachikawa family in Japan, founders and owners of Rotel,” says Chief Technology Officer at Rotel, Daren Orth. “There was mutual respect for the talent and market position and a long desire to work together but the opportunity never arose. An opportunity did finally arrive in the late summer of last year when the initial discussions began, with the project becoming a reality in September. All of the Rotel engineering team were delighted at finally having the opportunity to work with Ken.”

Tribute Amp
The A11 base model, already an EISA Award winner, has had a significant component upgrade. In the amplifier stage, all 10 capacitors and two resistors in the signal path have been changed. For the pre-amp, six capacitors were upgraded, representing over 50 per cent of the components in the signal path. All six capacitors in the volume stage have also been re-specified.

Custom damping materials have been added to the A11’s mechanical chassis to reduce ringing and further isolate/insulate and dampen any vibrations within the product.

For the CD11 CD player, eight capacitor changes and one resistor change have been made in the DAC stage while in the power supply all nine capacitors were changed with improved components.

Once again, a great deal of thought was given to the damping of internal vibrations with custom damping material added to the top cover to eliminate vibration and ringing, while further changes were made to the mechanical and electrical grounding of the CD player.

Having agreed the changes and having overseen the creation of the first prototypes, Ken very sadly passed away in November 2019, before the project could be completed.

However, some of Ken’s long-term contacts and partners from the industry, including his personal friend Karl-Heinz Fink, volunteered to continue his work with the Rotel team in order to complete the product and to fulfil Ken’s original vision.

The resulting A11 Tribute and the CD11 Tribute boast an increase in resolution and detail, with improved rhythm and timing.
Available in both Silver and Black finish, the A11 Tribute and CD11 Tribute sell for £499 and £399 respectively.

The amplifier features Rotel Class AB amplification, continuous rating 50 Watts per channel into 8 ohms, an in-house developed, oversized toroidal transformer, MM phono stage, TI 24-bit 192kHz DAC and AptX and AAC Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming.

The CD11 Tribute CD player has a Texas Instruments 24-bit 192kHz DAC, plus analogue and coaxial digital audio output connections.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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