In the mid-1970s, two economists—friends and serious audiophiles—Dr. William Conrad and Dr. Lewis Johnson—were highly dissatisfied with the commercially available equipment of the time and were also perplexed and challenged by the readily apparent sonic differences among components in their own systems. What made these two classic tube systems sound so different? Could the virtues of each be somehow combined? Not content to merely speculate on such issues, Conrad and Johnson decided to systematically investigate by developing and refining a vacuum-tube preamplifier.
The resulting conrad-johnson preamplifier was immediately recognized as a state of the art contender and catapulted Conrad and Johnson into the audio industry.
The most important legacy of conrad-johnson design’s beginnings is the basic methodology which took shape in the course of the development of that first preamplifier. This methodology has enabled conrad-johnson to develop new products which have routinely been ranked among the most musically satisfying. Few other manufacturers have so consistently received such high praise for their products.
The sole legitimate function of a stereo system, from modest to state of the art, is to enable the listener to enjoy the emotional experience of music performances.
Conrad-Johnson’s R&D efforts are concentrated on developing audio components which offer increasingly exact recreation of live music performances without interfering with the enjoyment of the music. This pursuit demands dedication and a genuine love of music that is impossible to hire, which explains the fact that in those few companies which succeed in producing musically satisfying components, product development is inevitably dominated by one or two individual personalities who are inextricably identified with the company.