John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 30, 2014 4 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 AnalogPlanet.com 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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 26, 2014 6 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."
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.
Sam Tellig John Atkinson Posted: Jul 18, 2014 Published: Apr 01, 2014 10 comments
They can't sound very good—they're not big enough. As we all know, in hi-fi, big products mean big performance. Musical Fidelity's V90 series can't be any good. They don't cost enough. With your golden ears, you must pay through the nose.

The V90 components turn all this around. They are tiny. Inexpensive. Beautifully built.

John Atkinson Posted: Jul 18, 2014 Published: Mar 01, 1989 1 comments
389accu.promo.jpg$13,000! You could buy two Hyundai Excels for that kind of money. Or one 5-liter Ford Mustang. Or two-thirds of a Saab 900 Turbo. How could the purchase of this Accuphase two-box CD player be justified on any rational grounds? What if it did offer state-of-the-art sound quality? Would it really be 50 times better than a humble Magnavox? Would it even be 4.3 times better than the California Audio Labs Tempest II CD player? And would it approach the sound quality routinely offered from LP by the similarly priced Versa Dynamics 2.0 turntable?
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 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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