John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Jul 13, 2003 0 comments
The keyboard player looked at his watch. It was midnight. "Time for my break," he said. My heart sank.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jul 03, 2003 0 comments
The science of recording music is, to apply a metaphor from a very different context, akin to "breaking a butterfly on a wheel" (footnote 1). The art of recording is to make it appear as though that pinned insect could still take wing. I have been devoted to both the science and the art of recording music since 1965, when I was given a Grundig ¼" open-reel tape recorder as a birthday present. You could even say that my evolving interest in audio and my current position at the helm of Stereophile date back to my finding out how different a Shure SM57 dynamic cardioid microphone sounded from a Reslo Ribbon, even in mono, even at 3¾ips, when captured on that Grundig.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 29, 2003 0 comments
The song ended. My friend gestured to me to remove the wads of Kleenex I had stuffed in my ears.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 15, 2003 0 comments
When I unpacked the review samples of Earthworks' Sigma 6.2 loudspeaker, I was reminded of a Pop Art exhibition I'd visited 30 years before, in London. Along with a stuffed drum kit and other of Claes Oldenburg's exaggerated-scale floppy sculptures, hanging from the Tate Gallery's ceiling was an enormous three-pronged, US-style AC plug made entirely of hardwood (footnote 1). Although the Sigma 6.2 is available in plain-Jane black MDF for $3500/pair, the optional solid-cherry cabinet, with its polished grain-streaked panels, has the same carved-from-solid, feel of the Oldenburg plug. I found myself wanting to stroke the speaker.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 18, 2003 0 comments
The June issue of Stereophile, which hits newsstands this week, spills some ink on the 30th-anniversary reissue of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon as a two-layer Super Audio CD (Capitol CDP 582136 2). Jon Iverson nominated the disc as June's "Recording of the Month," while I mentioned it in my "As We See It" column. This "fully loaded" SACD includes both multichannel and two-channel mixes encoded with the DSD system on a high-rez SACD layer and a two-channel "Red Book" transfer (16-bit word length, 44.1kHz sampling) on its CD layer.
John Atkinson Posted: May 18, 2003 0 comments
With hindsight, one of the sideways steps taken by the High End in the early 1990s was the splitting of CD players into separate transports and processors. There were good reasons for this development, not the least of which was the flowering of creativity it engendered in high-end audio engineers. Having open access to the digital audio data also made possible effective digital equalizers and room-correction processors, but in the rush to increase a system's component count, it was overlooked for too long that keeping everything in one box offered certain advantages.
John Atkinson Posted: May 11, 2003 0 comments
THE POLICE: Every Breath You Take: The Classics
A&M Chronicles 069 493 607-2 (hybrid SACD/CD). 2003. The Police, Hugh Padgham, Laurie Latham, orig. prods.; Nigel Gray, Chris Gray, Hugh Padgham, Phil Nicolo, orig. engs.; David Tickle, Martin Pradler, 5.1 remixes (tracks 1-12); Bob Ludwig, 5.1 remixes (tracks 13-14) and SACD mastering; Bill Levenson, reissue supervision. A?D. TT: 59:43
Performance *****
Sonics ** to *****
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 23, 2003 0 comments
The listing for the Rogue Audio M-120 monoblock power amplifier in the current issue's "Recommended Components" includes the comment, "Specified output power is 120W; JA measured just 100W into 8 ohms at clipping," which seems to suggest that Rogue Audio is overstating the amplifier's output power. This is not the case. The M-120 can be operated in both ultralinear pentode mode, in which it delivers the specified 120W, and in triode mode, in which it is specified at 60W. Our measurements were performed in triode mode; thus the 100W clipping power does, in fact, exceed the M-120's claimed output power of 60 watts in triode mode. Our apologies to Rogue Audio and to anyone confused by our lack of clarity.
John Atkinson Posted: Mar 16, 2003 0 comments
Judging absolute sound quality under the unfamiliar circumstances of an audio show is always fraught with difficulty. If a system sounds bad, there are so many possible reasons for it to do so that pointing a finger of blame at the components is possibly unfair. Conversely, when a room sounds good at a show, it is probable that the components being used deserve some recognition. Such was the case at Home Entertainment 2002 in New York last May, when Dynaudio's Confidence C4 made its debut.
John Atkinson Posted: Feb 16, 2003 0 comments
The very last review I wrote for Hi-Fi News & Record Review (these days just plain Hi-Fi News)—before crossing the Atlantic to take up the reins at Stereophile in May 1986—was of KEF's then-new flagship speaker, the Reference 107. That rave review appeared in the English magazine's July 1986 issue, and was followed by equally positive reports from Stereophile's writers.

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