Originally Posted by Mr_Sukebe
I owned a CD52 SE, and to my knowledge it's not the same as the KI, which was twice the price.
Whilst fine at the time, I really don't think it competes well against some of the newer kit available. For the same price you could buy a decent NOS DAC, which would run rings around it.
I don't think SE and KI editions existed at the same time. From reading a recent interview with Ken Ishiwata in Hi-Fi World magazine, as far as I remember, he said that he first modified a CD54 (1986?) because there was a surplus of these unsold in the UK warehouse when the newer models CD 65 / 75 came out the following year.
He was allowed by Marantz UK to mod around 1000 players and then they sold these as the Special Edition for 50 pounds more or something. Pretty sought after amongst Marantz collectors these days.
Anyway then he proceeded to modify a few midrange models that he particularly liked every few years from then on into the mid 1990's when they decided to release a specially modded edition of the CD63 MKII which I think was the first one to be called Ken Ishiwata Signature.
The change I beleive had more to do with marketing than specification and was replicated in many territories around the world.
They recently (2004) did another version of the CD63 II KIS player for Hi-Fi World which was made availble for 1000UKP from Marantz UK. Ishiwata's explanation was that CD players are like wines in the sense there are good and bad vintages assembled from whatever parts are available at the time and usually built down to a price. The 63 KI, which still changes hands for decent money although it's 10 years old now, was for him an excellent vintage and was capable of better performance and still worth modding even now.
What it comes down to I think is that Marantz was a specialist Hi-Fi company with a great high end reputation which was initially somewhat watered down by Philips when they first bought the company in the early 1980's.
Most of what Ishiwata has done is take fairly mass market models and give them a bit of a tweak up in much the same way an enthusiast might do to his own machine.
You don't see a CD94 KIS or a CD12 KIS because these are already statement products although I beleive many journalists still use the CD94 and Marantz still tweak this models even though they are nearing 20 years old.
In marketing terms all this helps to deliniate Marantz from all the other box shifters in the mass market and goes some way towards re-establishing their kudos as a "High End" company. In this they have been very successful.
So there is absolutley nothing wrong with a 20 year old CD player especially if it has been modified by Ken Ishiwata. It's not just the chipset it's the whole machine which has been optimised and it's worth having anyway for the Philips swing arm transport which is superior to the DVD ROMs you find in the average player today.