John Atkinson

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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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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.
John Atkinson Posted: Mar 07, 2014 1 comments
Back in the summer of 2009, USB-connected D/A processors that could operate at sample rates greater than 48kHz were rare. Ayre Acoustics had just released its groundbreaking QB-9, one of the first DACs to use Gordon Rankin's Streamlength code for Texas Instruments' TAS1020 USB 1.1 receiver chip. Streamlength allowed the chip to operate in the sonically beneficial asynchronous mode, where the PC sourcing the audio data is slaved to the DAC. But high-performance, USB-connected DACs like the Ayre were also relatively expensive back then, so in the January 2010 issue of Stereophile I reviewed a pair of soundcards from major computer manufacturer ASUS , the Xonar Essence ST and STX, which, at $200, offered a much more cost-effective means of playing hi-rez files on a PC.
John Atkinson Posted: Feb 25, 2014 Published: Mar 01, 2014 6 comments
I well remember my first "real" headphones: a pair of Koss Pro4AAs that I bought back in 1970. The Kosses were relatively expensive, but, like headphones today, they allowed an audiophile with limited cash to get a taste of high-end sound that was not possible with a speaker-based system. I bought the Pro4AAs because I had become fascinated with how the images of the instruments and singers were strung along a line between my ears inside my head. It seemed so much more intimate—a more direct connection with the music—than playback through loudspeakers.

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