My favorite audio company of all time is Audio Research, back in the day when William Zane Johnson ran it.
Bill Johnson was a passionate man—stubborn too. For many years, he had every right to be firm in his beliefs. In those days, Audio Research made the best-sounding audio equipment in the world. If you’ve never had the opportunity to hear a vintage Audio Research system on resolving speakers, you’ll have difficulty understanding the passion and reverence for that lush, rich, warm sound washing over you. It was so juicy you could just fall into the music.
Change was hard for Bill Johnson. The idea of balanced inputs or detachable power cords just chapped his buns. He and I sparred over such newfangled ideas but I was never able to sway him—particularly about power cords (though someone must have). Years later all Audio Research products sported detachable cords.
Bill’s stubbornness about power cables came from two areas: “bullshit!” and “what we have works.”
The first is obvious if you knew Bill. I could never persuade him that power cables mattered. He was too much of a diehard engineer to swallow any of that.
But what hurt Audio Research was the last bit of reasoning: what we have works.
Sometimes it’s alright—preferable even—to acquiesce to what your customers want as long as it doesn’t violate your core principles.
Bill Johnson’s core principles were simple.
Make great music.