Interview with Mr. Katsuaki Ishiyama
Designer of Sorane/Abis Tonearms

Mr Ishiyama-President of IT Industry

Are you the founder of “IT Industry”?

Yes, I founded “IT Industry” in April of 1974, named after my father, “Takeo Ishiyama”.  My first contract was polishing headshells by surface grinding, by myself, with no employees. Now we have 21 employees, including my daughter and son-in-law.

Since then, what kind of audio products have you designed?

Numerous analog products like tonearms, cartridges, various cables and accessories. In addition, we assemble phono stages and preamplifiers.

Fanuc Machine Center

Machine Center in Production

Ishiyama-san Adjusts the SA-1.2

Are there other products you produced, other than Audio equipment?

We have assembled medical equipment, wiring harnesses (up until ’05), and electrodes for the automotive industry.

We understand you have designed many tonearms as the OEM producer, performing R & D for other businesses. Could we know how many?

I could say, several tonearm brands.

Mr.Ryutaro Ishiyama, Son-in-Law, adjusts SA-1.2B

Mr.Ryutaro Ishiyama adjusts SA-1.2B VTF scale

There are several OEM tonearm manufacturers around the world.  What is different about an IT Industry tonearm?

All parts are designed and manufactured in house by our own machine tools, including our own CNC milling machine center, and manual tool room lathe. Some parts with large diameters (30 – 60mm), and extremely complicated parts, only producible by compound CNC machining with “live tooling”, are produced by sub-contractors.

The assembly and tuning of our tonearms are made by our craftsmen for ideal mechanical contact, without rattling or play, by hand polishing.

Top Floor of IT Industry’s Analog Production Room

Tonearm QC for Resistance and Polarity After Soldering

What kind of machine tools do you have?

FANUC 5 axis CNC mill/machining center, manual tool room lathe, manual milling machine, surface grinder, shot blast machine, buffer/grinder, plastic injection molding machine.

Manual Lathe for Various Small Parts

Soldering the Tonearm Collet

Some say parts of Sorane (Abis) tonearms looks like Jelco, and what is the fact?

Sorane (Abis) are IT Industry original products, and all parts are machine tooled, not die-cast.

Would there be any other tonearm manufacturers you feel as the target?

None, we are what we are.

What essential technical feature must a tonearm perform?

To extract details, to the maximum resolving power of each cartridge, while contributing no extraneous noise, or detracting from the trackability of the cartridge.

Manual Milling Machine

Adjusting Tonearm Cueing

IT Industry also develops MC cartridges as well. Please tell us your cartridges design philosophy.

We constantly maintain and refine a philosophy originated by legendary Osamu Ikeda-san, of Ikeda Sound Labs, to get detailed and rich reproduction from bass to treble, by identifying new materials and improved surface finishes.

How many original tonearms have you developed based on your personal preferences?

3 models, and we improved the Ikeda “IT-345/407”tonearms.

Attaching Tonearm Cable DIN Plug

Crimping of RCA Plug Ends

Among varieties (S-shape, J-shape, Straight type arm wand, Static and Dynamic balanced), which type of tonearms are considered to be the best?

There is no general answer, but my preference is for the J-shape or straight wands. However, besides shape and bearings, tonearms require appropriate inertia and mass.

Which type of bearing are suitable for tonearms?

In general, gimbal tonearms are more complex structures, dictating the shape of the bearing housing.  Bearing selection for gimbal bearings are somewhat dictated by the axis of motion. Horizontal and vertical bearings have completely different demands. For dynamic balanced types, the bearings themselves dictate the design, both vertical and horizontal movements being defined by bearing motion.

What materials are used by IT Industry?

Aluminum, Iron, stainless steel, brass, titanium, engineering plastic, wood etc..
Another way for favorable results is to perfectly mate the various parts, by carefully hand grinding and polishing the mating surfaces, using industrial diamond, carbide, etc..

Cable Stripping Prior to DIN Plug

Headshell Assembly

What kind of wiring materials do you think best?

Composite of 2 kinds, hybrid type, like 4N copper plus 6N copper.

Do you have personal hobby?

Yes, gardening, breeding Stag beetles, breeding RANCHUU goldfish, breeding cactus, fishing, mountain camping.

Do you have next generation to inherit your business?

Yes, my daughter and son in law.

Daughter, Ms. Akiko Ishiyama Adjusts Ikeda Cartridge

Son-in-Law, Mr. Ryutaro Ishiyama Assembles SA-1.2

Do you have a personal preference for music?

Japanese Soul Song, Popular Song, Jazz.


Do you have any design heroes (people you look up to, in general)?

Yes, Mr.Osamu Ikeda, designer of Ikeda cartridges and tonearms.

Audition System