John Atkinson

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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: Jun 13, 2014 Published: Oct 01, 1989 1 comments
666celestian3.250.jpg"Why does John Atkinson devote so much of his time to loudspeakers selling for under a [sic] $1000?" wrote a correspondent to The Audiophile Network bulletin board in August, there being a clear implication in this question that "more expensive" always equates with "better" when it comes to loudspeakers. While it is true that the best-sounding, most neutral loudspeakers possessing the most extended low-frequency responses are always expensive, in my experience this most definitely does not mean that there is an automatic correlation between price and performance. I have heard many, many expensive loudspeakers whose higher prices merely buy grosser sets of tonal aberrations. For those on modest budgets, provided they have good turntables or CD players, a good pair of under-$1000 loudspeakers, coupled with good amplification, will always give a more musical sound than twice-the-price speakers driven by indifferent amplification and a compromised front end.

End of discussion.

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John Atkinson Posted: May 30, 2014 16 comments
For Jason Victor Serinus, one of the highlights of the 2013 T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, California, was the public debut of the Sopranino—a horn-loaded, self-polarized, electrostatic supertweeter from EnigmAcoustics. In his report, Jason wrote about the sound of a pair of Sopraninos used atop Magico V3 speakers: "only folks with severe hearing loss would have missed how the sound opened up when the Sopranino was switched in." Well, as you can read later, I don't have hearing loss, and I did also hear an improvement with the Sopranino. So when I visited the Californian company's dem room at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, I asked for review samples.
John Atkinson Posted: May 27, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 2014 5 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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John Atkinson Posted: May 12, 2014 32 comments
It was the summer of 2000. We had closed Stereophile's office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the City Different in the Land of Enchantment, where the magazine had been headquartered since 1978, and moved lock, stock, and audio systems to New York City. Once I got to New York, I needed an editorial assistant. Stephen Mejias became that assistant in August 2000, at the age of 21.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 08, 2014 8 comments
McIntosh's President Charlie Randall, pictured outside the company's Binghamton HQ. (Photo: John Atkinson)

We received the following press release on May 7—Ed.


Mauro Grange, CEO of Fine Sounds SpA, and Charlie Randall, longtime President of McIntosh Laboratory, Inc., have announced their plans for a management buyout of Fine Sounds Group in partnership with LBO France and Yarpa. The acquisition will facilitate greater opportunities for global collaborations amongst the product development, marketing, distribution and finance teams of each of the Group's portfolio of brands, which includes Sonus Faber, Audio Research Corporation, Wadia Digital, Sumiko and McIntosh.
John Atkinson Posted: May 02, 2014 6 comments
"Physical discs are so 20th century," I wrote back in 2006, when I began experimenting with using, in my high-end rig, a computer as a legitimate source of music. These days I rarely pop a disc into my Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP disc player, unless it's an SACD I want to hear, or a CD I haven't yet ripped into my library. But many audiophiles, even if attracted to the idea of using a file-based system as a primary music source, do not want a computer in their listening rooms. Nor do they want to be bothered by the fact that a computer demands too intimate a relationship with its user.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 16, 2014 4 comments
It's been getting closer and closer the past few days. But this morning, Stereophile's Facebook page got its 20,000th "Like."

Woo hoo!!!!

Jack English John Atkinson Posted: Apr 15, 2014 Published: Aug 01, 1993 2 comments
893count.250.jpgWhile Clearfield Audio may be a new name to many of you, it represents the marriage of two well-established members of the high-end community: Counterpoint and designer Albert Von Schweikert. Counterpoint had been working to add speakers to its product lineup for some time. The partnership with Von Schweikert, whom Stereophile readers will remember as the designer of the Vortex Screen favorably reviewed by Robert Harley in July 1989, fills out Counterpoint's high-end product line from source—the company showed a CD transport at the June 1993 CES—to speaker.

The Metropolitan
The developmental history of Vortex speakers provides a meaningful framework for the design of the Clearfield offerings, especially the Metropolitans, or Mets. Like the Vortex designs, the Mets are three-ways with transmission-loaded bass. Like the Kevlar Reference Screen (reviewed by Robert Greene in The Abso!ute Sound's "double-issue" 83/84, December '92), the Mets use Kevlar-coned midrange units from Focal that cover a broad range from 125Hz to 2kHz. What's dramatically different is the overall driver layout.

John Atkinson Posted: Mar 28, 2014 4 comments
In February 2013, I was taking part in a "Music Matters" evening at Seattle retailer Definitive Audio, playing some of my recordings and talking about my audio philosophy. I love taking part in these events—in addition to Definitive's, in recent years I've participated in evenings organized by North Carolina's Audio Advice, Colorado's Listen-Up, and Atlanta's Audio Alternatives—but, as might be obvious, at each one I use a system provided by the retailer. The February 2013 system comprised Classé electronics and, to my surprise, Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus loudspeakers.

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