John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2014 0 comments
“A kiss back to Sony,” was how Nelson Pass described the debut of a unique pair of Pass Labs monoblocks driving Sony’s SS-AR1 speakers in the Sony room at Venetian. And it was an affectionate kiss indeed—the sound in this room, with a Pass Labs XP-20 preamplifier and Sony’s HA-P1ZES media player, I thought one of the best of the 2014 CES. Yes, it had superb clarity and dynamics, with an impossibly low noisefloor on the 24/176.4k Reference Recordings file of Stravinsky’s Firebird, but these qualities were even apparent on a Red Book file of a Rossini opera excerpt. There was something just right about the sound.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2014 5 comments
No, the Model 7 is not new. In fact, the pair Richard Vandersteen was demming at the 2014 CES were the same pair Michael Fremer reviewed for this magazine in March 2010. And the amplification wasn’t new: the M7-HPA monoblocks were shown in prototype form at the 2013 CES and the only news was that they are now in production at the same price as the speakers, $52,000/pair including proprietary DBS solid-silver cables, to give a system price of $104,000. But with an LP of Diana Krall singing Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, so powerfully physical was the presence of the singer in the room.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2014 0 comments
Laurence “Dic” Dickie (above) showed me his new G4 speaker design in the On A Higher Note suite at the Mirage, which will enter production in April. To be priced at $33,000/pair, the G4 features the same absorptive lines behind the tweeters and midrange drivers and the hybrid vented transmission line loading for the twin woofers first seen in the Giya G1. The upper and lower aluminum-dome HF units are the same as in all the Giya models, but because of the G4’s narrower width compared with the others, Dic had to design a new midrange unit. This again uses an aluminum cone and the same-sized radial magnet, but now there is an oversized dustcap to provide stiffening of the diaphragm midway between voice-coil and surround.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 1 comments
At almost 6’ high, weighing 507 lbs, and costing $480,000/pair, the Coltrane Supreme 2 from Swedish company Marten was one of the more extreme loudspeakers at the 2014 CES. But to my surprise, playing my own recording of the Jerome Harris Quartet playing Duke Ellington’s “The Mooche,” from the CD Rendezvous, it sounded delicately detailed, with a superbly stable rendering of the recording venue, Chad Kassem’s Blue Heaven Studio in Salina, KS.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
The Enigmacoustics company from Irvine in California has become renowned for the self-energized, horn-loaded Sopranino electrostatic supertweeter they introduced a couple of years back. They were still promoting the tweeter at CES, demonstrating a pair with Magico speakers in one of their rooms. But I was more interested in their second room, where they were introducing a complete loudspeaker, the Mythology M1 standmount. Intended to sell for >$12,000/pair, the M1 adds the Sopranino supertweeter to a two-way design featuring a 35mm dome tweeter that crosses over at a low 1kHz to a proprietary 6” woofer in a rear-ported enclosure made from a laminated birchwood and glass, with an aluminum front baffle.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
Second up from the bottom in YG’s speaker line has been the Kipod ($38,800/pair), named after YG founder Yoav Geva’s daughter Hailey, whose nickname was “Kipod” or “Hedgehog” in Hebrew. But as Hailey is growing up fast (as daughters do), it was time to name a new speaker after her; CES saw the premier of the YG Hailey. Priced at $42,800/pair, the three-way, floorstanding Hailey uses technology trickled down from the top-of-the line Sonja that I reviewed last July. YG’s “Billet-core” drivers, where the cones are machined from solid aluminum stock, are combined with a 1" dome tweeter in a machined aluminum enclosure that eschews the Sonja’s double-cabinet construction.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
Both the speakers from Sandy Gross’s GoldenEar company that have been reviewed in Stereophile—the Triton 2, reviewed by Bob Deutsch in February 2012 and the Aon 2, reviewed by Bob Reina in November 2013—impressed us with the very attractive combination of price and performance. And at the 2014 CES, Sandy introduced me to the new flagship, the Triton 1, which will sell for $2499 each or $4998/pair when it comes to market in late April.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 1 comments
Has it really been a quarter century since Meridian introduced its first “digital active” loudspeaker, the D600, pictured left with designer Bob Stuart standing between the D600 and the DSP6000 from 1990. I reviewed the D600 in November 1989 and was mightily impressed by what I heard from a speaker that used Philips’ then-new S/PDIF receiver chip to allow it to realize DAC, crossover, and amplification in one, elegantly proportioned box.

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 4 comments
I am sure that contributing to the superbly neutral, well-balanced, uncolored, full-range sound in this room was the acoustic treatment from Swedish company SMT, which provided a combination of absorbers and diffusors. And dig the treatment applied to the ceiling by SMT, with different-radius sphere segments. Other exhibitors could take lessons from Martin and its US distributor Dan Meinwald.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
Having gotten used to John DeVore showing off his high-sensitivity Orangutan O/96 and O/93 speakers at recent shows, both of which have been very favorably received by Stereophile’s reviewers, driven by low-power Shindo and Line Magnetic amplification, I was somewhat surprised to see the new and more conventional Gibbon X towers driven by a high-powered VTL S-200 Signature amplifier in Triode mode via Auditorium cabling in his suite at the Venetian. The new Gibbon is projected to sell for $12,000/pair and features all-new drive-units: a ¾” tweeter asymmetrically mounted beneath a paper-cone midrange unit based on that first used in the DeVore Silverback, which features what John calls an adaptive surround, and two long-throw 7” woofers.

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