Approximately 185km northeast of Tokyo, in the Fukushima Prefecture, is the historic city of Shirakawa. Here, at the foot of the volcanic Nasu Mountains you’ll find Japan’s oldest public park, over 100 restaurants specializing in Shirakawa Ramen, and a city that has quietly become synonymous with cutting-edge audio technology.
Shirakawa Audio Works has been Marantz’s manufacturing home since 2002. This vast facility employs around 200 people, a mix of local talent and audiophiles from all over Japan, on a journey to discover the most musical sound possible. Many come straight from school, while some have been at the Audio Works since its establishment almost 40 years ago.
Throughout Japan, traditional practices fuse seamlessly with technologies designed for the future, and the same is true in Shirakawa.
While one engineer might test the latest amplifier circuit topology, another will anodize an AVR's champagne face, a feature that has become a trademark over the years.
The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen is based on the belief that continuous, incremental improvement adds up to substantial change over time.
The Audio Works team invests heavily in planning and research so that when a product is released, it performs perfectly, bringing the listener closer to the original recording, and lasts.
It is with a combination of scientific precision and artisanal craftsmanship that Marantz ensures its high-end products are built and tested to the most exacting standards. It could be argued that the high-end audio equipment built in Shirakawa is more rigorously tested than any other consumer electronics.
Marantz QC procedures border on fanatical, ensuring every piece is resistant to heat, cold, vibration, submersion, and any other potential mishaps. Even packaging is repeatedly dropped from a height and exposed to extreme temperatures.
Audio Works was badly affected by the disaster but only four months later the facility was reopened, and the team – now in hardhats – were back at work. To this day, cracks caused by the earthquake run along the walls, floors and ceilings, a permanent reminder of the resilience and fortitude of the Marantz family.
The natural light afforded by the open environment around the facility bathes the collection in warmth, reflecting the sound of Marantz and the optimism, friendliness and endeavor of the people who craft products from this singular place.