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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 14, 2014 0 comments
I have always thought it important for audio shows to feature live music, so showgoers can recalibrate their ears. Thanks to Ray Kimber, who flew in Canadian pianist Robert Silverman, RMAF attendees could do just that. Robert, who had recorded the complete Mozart sonatas on SACD for Ray's IsoMike label a couple of years back and who also appeared on five Stereophile CDs, performed a series of mini-concerts on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a full recital Saturday evening.
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 05, 2014 2 comments
A reader recently asked if I preferred listening to loudspeakers or to headphones. There is no easy answer: Although I do most of my music listening through speakers, about 10% of that listening, for various reasons, takes place in the privacy of my headphones. I have also found that, since I purchased the Audeze LCD-X headphones following my review of them last March, I now tend to watch movies on my MacBook Pro, with the soundtrack reproduced by these headphones plugged into an AudioQuest DragonFly or whatever D/A headphone amplifier has been passing through my test lab. So when Meridian's PR person, Sue Toscano, asked me last Christmas if I'd be interested in reviewing the English company's new Prime D/A headphone amplifier ($2000) with its optional Prime Power Supply ($1295), it took me less than a New York minute to say "Yes."
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 01, 2014 0 comments
Sony's hot news at the New York show was the launch of what they called a "Walkman." However, this was no cassette player like the Walkpersons of 30 years ago but a hirez-capable file player with 64GB of RAM and a micro-SD slot for memory expansion. Priced at just $299 and beautifully styled, as you can see from the photo with David Chesky modeling it, the new Walkman makes my Astell&Kern player look clunky. But peculiarly, the new Sony player doesn't handle DSD files, just PCM up to 192kHz.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 26, 2014 Published: Oct 01, 2014 8 comments
Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "If you work in either journalism or politics . . . you will be flogged for being right and flogged for being wrong." I was reminded of Thompson's words when I read a forum post on our website. "Why is Stereophile way behind the other magazines?" asked "rs350z," explaining that, among things, he objected to Stereophile's supporting its reviews with measurements. "why waste the ink on doing measurements on each product reviewed," he wrote, with a disregard for capital letters. "There is no need to. I don't care if the distortion is 0.00005 or 0.00007, nor do i care about all of the other tests you do. What i care about is the sound, quality, finish, looks."
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 01, 2014 6 comments
Before I conclude our coverage of last weekend’s New York Audio Show, let me say that it was a pleasant surprise to find the Marriott’s corridors still busy before the show ended 5pm Sunday. While the show had a smaller number of exhibitors than I would have wished, the venue was excellent and the show was definitely a success and those manufacturers, distributors, and dealers who exhibited all had excellent traffic. Well done, Chester Group.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 30, 2014 12 comments
Billed as “Michael Fremer’s Ultimate Turntable Set-up Demo,” the final seminar at the Brooklyn show once again revealed that the editor of and Stereophile columnist has, as you might say, “large attachments.” I find setting up a phono cartridge the most stressful of audio-related activities, and that’s in the quiet of my home, with no pressure and all the time in the world. By contrast, Michael does it in public, with the clock ticking, an audience watching, and a high-definition video system showing a close-up of every move on the screen above and behind him.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 28, 2014 9 comments
The Brooklyn show offered a full program of seminars throughout the weekend, and one of the best-attended was "The Virtues of Vintage," which took place late Saturday afternoon. Chaired by Stereophile's Art Dudley (far left), a panel of expert anachrophiles comprising (L–R) Steve Rowell (Audio Classics), Mike Trei (Sound & Vision), Jonathan Halpern (Tone Imports), Joe Roberts (Silbatone and once Sound Practices) and Herb Reichert (Stereophile) started off by examining what great components from audio's past had to offer.
John Atkinson Posted: Aug 22, 2014 0 comments
The French do things differently. I first heard Triangle loudspeakers at the 1981 Festival du Son, in Paris. That was, of course, after I had obtained admission to the show, in a nonintuitive process in which members of the press obtained their credentials at a booth inside the show. But my experience of the Triangle speaker, a small, three-way floorstander, was positive: It sounded clean and uncolored, and nothing like the BBC-inspired speakers I preferred at that time. The Triangle wasn't as neutral as the English norm, but there was something appealing about its sound—something that, I later learned, Stereophile's founder, J. Gordon Holt, referred to as jump factor.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 25, 2014 Published: Jul 01, 2014 5 comments
For exhibitors, showing off their products at audio shows is a crap shoot. The vagaries of arbitrarily assigned hotel rooms with unpredictable acoustics can play havoc with the sound of even the best-sounding systems. But over the years I've been attending shows, Joseph Audio's dems have always impressed me with how Jeff Joseph manages to set up his speakers so that they work with instead of against a hotel room's acoustics. Yes, Joseph's setup skills, going back to his days in audio retail, play an important role here. But his speakers, too, need to be of sufficiently high quality to benefit from those skills. And if they can be made to sing in a hotel room, they will also stand a better-than-usual chance of doing so in audiophiles' homes.
John Atkinson Posted: May 27, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 6 comments
A year or so ago, in my review of the Pass Labs XP-30 preamplifier, I wrote that the heart of an audio system is the preamplifier, in that it sets the overall quality of the system's sound. But it is the power amplifier that is responsible for determining the character of the system's sound, because it is the amplifier that must directly interface with the loudspeakers. The relationship between amplifier and loudspeaker is complex, and the nature of that relationship literally sets the tone of the sound quality.


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