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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 20, 2012 2 comments
The New York debut of Sonus Faber's stunning-looking Aida ($120,000/pair) was compromised by sub-optimal room acoustics and too much noise from outside the dem area. But the speaker, powered by Audio Research's new Reference 250 monoblocks ($25,900/pair) lived up to the promise in Las Vegas. But as I had found in New York, the true magic of the Aida was only to be found if you sat exactly in the sweet spot, when the speakers disappeared and the end of the room dissolved into the recorded acoustic. Certainly the team from sitting in front of my camera—Hi, Steve!—were enjoying what the Aidas' were doing.

The rest of the system comprised an SME Model 20/3 turntable/tonearm ($17,000) with a Palos Presentation cartridge ($3995), an Audio Research CD8 ($9995) and DAC8 ($4995), Reference Phono 2SE ($12,995) and Reference 5SE linestage ($12,995), all connected with Shunyata cables. Racks were the ubiquitous Harmonic Resolution Systems SXRs and power conditioning was also by Shunyata.

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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 24, 1999 0 comments
Successful new prerecorded audio media emerge, on average, every two decades—one human generation. The LP made its debut in 1948, 21 years after the introduction of electrical recording ended the adolescence of the record industry and the acoustic 78rpm disc. This was almost coincidental with Jack Mullin's retrieval of analog tape technology from the wreckage of post-WWII Germany and its subsequent commercialization by Bing Crosby's Ampex company (footnote 1). The compact cassette made its appearance in 1963, followed almost 20 years later by the CD, in 1982. And now, as I mentioned in the October issue's "As We See It," we have Sony and Philips' Super Audio CD and the DVD Forum's DVD-Audio to contend with (not forgetting MP3 and the Internet).
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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 30, 1995 Published: Jun 30, 1992 0 comments
One of the great imponderables in hi-fi is how much the vibrations of a dynamic loudspeaker's cabinet walls contribute to its overall sound quality. Studies by William Stevens in the mid-1970s showed that, with some speakers, the acoustic output of the enclosure could be almost as much as that from the drive-units. Since then, responsible speaker designers have worked hard either to damp cabinet vibrations or to shift them to higher frequencies where their effect on the music will be less deleterious.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 21, 2013 1 comments
Robert Baird mentioned the seminar program presented at the New York Audio Show by The Sound Organisation. I applaud the Chester Group for featuring educational sessions like these at the Show. At the session I attended, renowned recording engineer Jim Anderson (above), past president of the Audio Engineering Society and Chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts, compared the original and revised versions of Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue, as well as playing tracks from her new album Smash, which he mixed at Skywalker Sound. The system featured a pair of active MB2S-A monitors from English company PMC, with their distinctive dome midrange units, fed audio from a PrismSound Orpheus DAC and a MacBook Pro.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 21, 2011 0 comments
Michael Fremer raved, raved about the Soundsmith SG-200 strain-gauge phono cartridge system in the March issue. "The SG-200 is a unique game-changing product," he wrote, so I made sure I checked it out at Axpona. In a system featuring Soundsmith's own HE150 MOSFETamplifiers and Dragonfly two-way standmounts ($1500/pair), the strain-gauge cartridge, mounted in a Schröder Reference tonearm on a VPI turntable, breathed new life into Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," with a clean, open sound and excellent upper-bass clarity. When Mikey write that the SG-200 was "as addicting as its proponents say," my experience at Axpona convinced me he was correct.
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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 13, 2009 0 comments
"Check it out." Music editor Robert Baird handed me a CD. "He's 70 years old, it's his 13th album, he got Don Was to produce it, and it's his best yet."
John Atkinson Robert Harley Posted: Feb 28, 1990 0 comments
The end of two audiophiles' friendship:
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Scottish manufacturer Tannoy was showing the Carbon Black version of the Kingdom Royal speaker ($85,000/pair), which adds carbon-fiber trim panels, individually machined metal components, and a “specially formulated” paint on the cabinet surfaces. The speaker combines a 12” Dual-Concentric driver with a supertweeter and a 15”, vented woofer with a corrugated surround for maximum linearity. The Kingdom Royal looked elegant indeed, and driven by Cary single-ended power amplifiers with Cary’s new streamer as source, the full-range, wide-dynamic-range sound was equally elegant.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2014 1 comments
The Polar Vortex weather and its associated flight cancellations prevented Convergent Audio Technology’s Ken Stevens from reaching Las Vegas until the third day of the show. However, once he arrived, he set up a system featuring Vandersteen 5A Carbon speakers, connected by Stealth cables to his new JL5 Triode "Baby CAT" stereo power amplifier. This 100Wpc (8 ohms) amplifier costs $12,000 with amorphous core transformers and Black Gate capacitors, $10,000 with silicon-steel transformers. The circuit features what Ken calls "OptiBias"—Ken describes this as "somewhere between constant current and constant power"—which keeps the bias current of the output-stage KT120 tubes independent of fluctuations in the AC supply voltage. Those who feel tube amplifiers can’t rock hard in the bass should have experienced the Led Zeppelin track I auditioned in Ken’s room.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jul 22, 2007 0 comments
Back in the bad old pioneer days of high fidelity, the 1960s and early 1970s, amplifier manufacturers embarked on a specifications war, claiming ever lower percentages of total harmonic distortion. But, as J. Gordon Holt presciently pointed out in the 1960s, without reference to the spectrum of the distortion harmonics, the actual percentage was not in itself a reliable indicator of an amplifier's sound quality. And as those early low-THD models had distortion spectra that were heavily biased toward the sonically objectionable fifth, seventh, and ninth harmonics, and suffered from other related ills, they tended to sound quite nasty.


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