Have we come that far?

September 13, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

Reader Ted Williams sent me the following photo of a 1959 Johnny Mathis album sleeve from Columbia Records.

I love it. It’s educational and must have been a great tool for Columbia to sell their hardware products—products I didn’t even know existed.

But, it begs the question, how far have we actually come since this 60-year-old liner sleeve?

We’ve just launched one of our best phono preamplifiers ever, the Stellar, and it is designed to reproduce these very same 1959 pieces of plastic.

Sure, we no longer make “Stereophonic High Fidelity Console Phonographs”, and I’ve never even heard of an Osmian needle, but it boggles the mind to be lavishing modern circuit technologies on this most ancient reproduction format.

Only, when you listen to the vinyl we’re playing you’d swear it’s the best you’ve ever heard music from a pair of speakers—after all, it’s today’s state of the art.

How would today’s state of the art compare to yesterday’s? It wouldn’t take much to beat the performance of the Columbia 632 Console Stereo that’s pictured on the liner sleeve.

And yet, I’ll bet the level of enjoyment in either era would be the same.

State of the art is a moving target.

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