John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 17, 2011 0 comments
Back in the day, you couldn't cruise the corridors at an audio Show without hearing Willie Nelson's arrangement of "Stardust" coming from every open door. So it was with a feeling of nostalgia that I walked into the Sanders room at Axpona and heard that familiar voice. Providing the tunes was an all-Sanders system featuring the Model 10c speakers ($13,000/pair including 500Wpc bass amplifier and crossover module), which combines an electrostatic panels for the midrange and highs with a transmission line-loaded 10" moving-coil woofer. Unusually, the active crossover operates in the digital domain, operating at 24/96 and splitting the signal at 172Hz with 48dB/octave slopes, which should ameliorate the problem blending the omnidirectional woofer with the dipolar panel. With a Sanders line stage, Sanders electrostatic amplifier ($4000), and Sanders cables—Roger Sanders feels strongly that a system should designed as a system—the 10cs sounded unexpectedly dynamic.
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 15, 2013 4 comments
I had been looking forward to auditioning the 10th Anniversary Edition of Scaena's Silver Ghost speakers at the 2013 CES, but as I reported, there was a curious lack of recorded ambience. The Silver Ghosts, which cost $153,000/system with two active subwoofers, sounded much better at AXPONA, driven by Audio Research amplification. The front end was the new dCS Vivaldi rig and cabling was all Silversmith Audio Palladium. A duet between a woman singer and a double bass on the old Gloria Gaynor hit "I Will Survive" was absolutely convincing in its tonality and musicality—with plenty of recorded ambience!
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 22, 2013 1 comments
Listening to Scaena's Silver Ghost speakers ($153,000/system) had been a highlight of last March's AXPONA in Chicago. At the Denver Tech Center Hyatt, the speakers had been set-up by Sunny Umrao (in photo) firing diagonally across a much larger room than in Chicago. With a system comprising a dCS Vivaldi digital source driving an Audio Research Reference 75 stereo amplifier for the towers and six inexpensive Crown class-D amplifiers for the six woofer modules operating below 120Hz, the sound of a live recording of Dave Brubeck's "Rondo a la Turk" did indeed sound live.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
In their second room, Anaheim retailer Scott Walker Audio was showing Magico's Q3 floorstander ($38,950/pair) with the Soulution 700 monoblock amplifiers, hooked with Synergistic's cumbersome spaced-conductor speaker cable. Source was a Soulution 540 SACD player and a Soulution 700-series preamp. The Q3 was launched at the 2011 CES. A smaller derivative of the Q that Michael Fremer positively reviewed for Stereophile in November 2010, the Q3 uses the same proprietary beryllium-dome tweeter as the Q5 in the same type of space-frame enclosure, with a 6" Nano-tec midrange unit. The lower woofers roll off earlier than the upper one, to optimize the crossover to the midrange unit. Frequency response is specified as 20Hz–50kHz, sensitivity as 90dB, and impedance as 5 ohms.
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John Atkinson Posted: Dec 30, 2007 0 comments
The world of loudspeaker aficionados has at one end most of us, who use multi-way box speakers of one kind of another; in the center are the lovers of panels, electrostatic, planar magnetics—it doesn't matter as much as the fact there is no box—and at the extreme other end are the lovers of high-sensitivity designs, where massive amounts of art, artifice, and loving care are applied to wrest full-range sound from a single drive-unit. Overcoming the daunting problems of getting a single drive-unit to work from 20Hz to 20kHz is, by those, felt to be outweighed by the benefits of not having a crossover circuit.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 06, 2002 0 comments
"Ever wondered how the snowplow driver gets to work?"—Doyle Dane Bernbach TV ad for Volkswagen, 1963
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 24, 2011 0 comments
While August 29 was officially the day the State of Connecticut honored Sennheiser Electronic Corporation, the celebrations the US subsidiary of the German headphone and microphone manufacturer had planned were postponed, thanks to Hurricane Irene. But Tuesday, September 20 saw journalists converging on the company's headquarters in shoreline town of Old Lyme—"conveniently located midway between New York and Boston," according to company president John Falcone, pictured above—to take part in the delayed event. "This recognition celebrates Sennheiser's vital role in the business community, as well as the talented and passionate employees who are essential to its success," stated Governor Dannel P. Malloy in an official document that proclaimed August 29, 2011 as Sennheiser Electronic Corporation Day.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2009 4 comments
Zu Audio goes its own way when it comes to speaker design goals, emphasizing sensitivity and dynamic range. The Utah company's new Essence ($5000/pair) covers almost the entire audioband with a single 10" drive-unit, augmenting this unit's output from the central "whizzer cone" in the top octave with a ribbon supertweeter. Sensitivity is claimed to be in the high 90s! The enclosure is constructed from Baltic birch ply with an outer MDF cladding, and the internal wiring is, of course, Zu's own cable, with cold-forged, solder-less connections to the Cardas binding posts.
J. Gordon Holt John Atkinson Posted: Oct 09, 2005 Published: May 09, 1993 0 comments
Richard Shahinian has been offering loudspeakers to music lovers for more than 15 years. I use the word "offering" here in its strictest sense, because Dick has never "sold" his products—by pushing them. Indeed, he is probably one of the worst self-promoters in the business. If we think of "soft sell" in the usual context of laid-back and low-pressure, then Shahinian's approach would have to be called "mushy sell."
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2009 2 comments
"Now that can't work," I thought, as I went into the Crystal Cable room and saw the Dutch company's new Arabesque loudspeaker (45,000 Euros/pair, equivalent to around $60,000). A glass enclosure? But as I listened to a variety of recordings that I thought would expose cabinet problems, such as female vocals and solo cello, I didn't hear any flaws that I could lay at the feet of the enclosure.

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