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Q&A with Joel Sietsema of Marantz and Classé Audio

Q&A with Joel Sietsema of Marantz and Classé Audio

Marantz is truly one of the few iconic brands in audio. How do you keep it relevant in 2021? 

It is a constant challenge for brands to stay relevant across product cycles, much less over decades or generations. It’s a rare feat that Saul founded his company almost 70 years ago, but even cooler is that the core of the brand is still alive and well. In that time, the ways our customers listen to music or enjoy home entertainment have changed tremendously, and yet here is Marantz. Today, our core-product promise—the most realistic reproduction of music—remains extremely relevant. So it’s how we deliver that promise which continues to evolve. Marantz is not what I’d consider a “trendy” brand. Instead, I’d call us a passion brand. We know who we are and what we’re the best at, so we constantly assess new product topologies to determine where we 1) have permission, and 2) believe that we have something meaningful to offer. This also means we are continually assessing technology platforms, amplifier designs, industrial design concepts, and the user experience. 

How would you describe the current Marantz philosophy? 

The simple philosophy that Saul possessed when he founded his company—the most realistic reproduction of music—remains our base. But we’re shifting gears a bit to modernize and elevate the Marantz brand and product experience. Our new brand proposition is now Modern Musical Luxury. 

Are you surprised at the resilience of analog two-channel playback? 

No, not at all. While music consumption has maybe never been more popular, it’s also become extremely functional. I have a Marantz TT15 turntable, and I find the analog listening experience requires a different level of devotion, and therefore delivers a totally different level of intimacy and fulfillment. The difference is dramatic. I’m not surprised that others have found this out as well. 

What are the greatest challenges facing the high-end industry? 

Appealing to younger consumers who were born streaming music and have come to expect always-improving, intuitive, mobile-based product experiences. The future discerning buyers in our industry have a set of expectations that the high end has not yet embraced meaningfully, but must. 

Outside of audio, what do you do for fun? 

I am into golfing with friends and traveling with my wife. But I’m an old soul of sorts—I find it’s hard to top reading the newspaper with a good coffee in hand, or at night sitting around a campfire with good wine and friends. 

What (still) inspires you about your work? 

Two things for me: First, seeing our customers light up when they hear music like they’ve never heard it before. And second, seeing our products in homes around the world. 

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By Neil Gader


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