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March 2007
Superior Audio Equipment Review

conrad-johnson
Celebrating 30 years of excellence
Plus special factory tour photos!
Article By Steven R. Rochlin
Click here to e-mail reviewer.

Dr. William Conrad and Dr. Lewis Johnson  As the very first paragraph of my review concerning the Premier 17LS preamplifier says, "Any true music loving audiophile worth their salt knows about the great products from conrad-johnson. It all began during the mid-seventies where two economists friends, who were avid music lovers, joined forces. Specifically, Dr. William Conrad and Dr. Lewis Johnson felt that the then available equipment left much to be desired. After much research and development came a commercially produced conrad-johnson preamplifier that immediately brought critical acclaim as makers of great sounding vacuum tube gear."

Soon the company will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary and it brings me joy for Enjoy the Music.com to be among the first to mark this very special event within our March 2007 edition of Superior Audio. Over the years some quite impressive high-end manufacturers have come and gone, with new ones from China making recent strides, yet conrad-johnson continues forward in providing some of the very best audiophile gear time and again. Careful methodology has "enabled Conrad and 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" says the company's website and this journalist wholeheartedly agree.

i still recall the very first time meeting Lew Johnson. Well, it was not a formal meeting per se as you will soon find out. It happened approximately 14 years ago on CompuServe's then active CE Audio forum. Back then it was a brief online discussion concerning my beloved vintage tubed Philco wood encased AM table radio. Back in those days very few people knew about the Internet, and there was no Netscape or Internet Explorer website browser. Back in those days we relied on services like CompuServe for certain 'cutting edge' electronic services. Lew and i sent various private and public messages and over time came the realization we shared many hobbies including billiards, vintage Italian cars and of course music. Lew has been known to enjoy vintage  78 rpm equipment and music too! Music has a way to produce deep passion, and this is truly the case with Lew in many areas of our hobby. Naturally this love extends to helping produce some of the finest audiophile gear. 

Over the years conrad-johnson, or cj for short, has produced among the best of their generation in audiophile electronics. A very brief history lesson would show the company's 1977 launching of their PV1 tube preamplifier established cj as a true high-end contender. A year later came a matching stereo tube amplifier, the MV75. On the company's 10th Anniversary we find the Premier One tube amplifier marked their very first "state of the art" product. The then new amplifier was touted by The Absolute Sound as being the finest sounding amplifier of that decade. Years later, 1985 to be exact, cj finally decided to introduce solid-state products along with their critically acclaimed tube amplification, and so the MC7 phonostage/preamplifier was born.

Today, audiophiles all around the world can enjoy products from conrad-johnson. Their Anniversary Reference Triode Preamplifier (ART) continues in various iterations while both tube and solid-state amplification thrives. The company has earned many awards over the past 30 years. Conrad-johnson provides excellent after sales assistance and service plus is truly one of the very best high-end companies within the industry. Their design philosophy of "enabling the listener to enjoy the emotional experience of music performances" proves they have hit their goal once you hear their products. It appears they have indeed succeeded time and again over the past 30 years, though each new product brings a new challenge.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Dr. William Conrad and Dr. Lewis Johnson for their 30 years of generously providing audiophiles all around the world an opportunity to enjoy the labors of their love. In celebration of this occasion i bring you, our loyal readers, a very special March 2007 edition of Enjoy the Music.com's Superior Audio magazine.

 

Special Factory Tour Photos!

Seen here is Lac Lam (above) and Linda Skeen (below) of conrad-johnson. Each workday they carefully hand assemble and solder the latest designs from the company.

 

One of conrad-johnson's technicians, Larry Barbe, has begun testing/quality control (QC) work on a PV15 tube preamplifier.

 

Before a product can be produced one needs to first start with an initial design and tweak as needed. Keith Antis is conrad-johnson's research and development (R&D) engineer. His technician's bench is filled with various gear to carefully measure and recheck his results when necessary. This is where that conrad-johnson magic is first born!

 

Above we see a shelf of preamplifiers burning in. All preamplifiers go through a two-step QC process in which they are inspected, then run for 100 hours, then tested for performance to specification.

 

And lastly we have stacks of finished products all boxed up and ready to be shipped to dealers. They will eventually be in the hands of enthusiastic music lovers all around the world. One of these boxes might wind up in New York City, with another arriving in Milan Italy... or perhaps Tokyo! The photo shows only a fraction of finished goods inventory, as conrad-johnson's goal is to ship all products from stock as needed by their worldwide network of distributors. Perhaps one of these boxes will soon be arriving to a cj dealer near you!

 

 

Company Information
conrad-johnson design, inc. 
2733 Merrilee Drive 
Fairfax, VA 22031

Voice: (703) 698-8581 
Fax: (703) 560-5360
E-mail: custserv@conradjohnson.com
Website: www.conradjohnson.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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