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 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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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 17, 2014 11 comments
When I interviewed Thiel’s new owner Bill Thomas (right in photo) at the 2013 CES, he was bullish about the company’s future. However, I felt that future was going to be dependent on whom Bill hired to head up the Kentucky company’s engineering team. At the 2014 CES, Bill introduced me to that person, Mark Mason (left), who had come to Thiel from PSB, where he had worked alongside veteran speaker engineer Paul Barton. Bill and Mark are flanking the new TT3 speaker, which is intended to replace the CS3.7 as the company’s flagship when it comes to market in the late summer. Bill feels that with Mark now leading the engineering, Thiel can be taken to a larger customer base.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 17, 2014 0 comments
Yes, those are moving-coil woofers. From Martin-Logan, the electrostatic company. ML’s new Motion Series speaker, to be priced at around $3000/pair when it is available in the late summer, is a big brother to the Motion 40 tower. The speaker uses the largest yet Folded Motion XT tweeter to come from MartinLogan, marrying it to a 6.5" midrange unit and a pair of 8" woofers. and although the company is still based in Kansas, its speakers are now made in Canada. Though it was demmed with Peachtree amplification, the speaker suffered from the suboptimal room acoustics.

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