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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 2 comments
In its main room, YG was making great-sounding music with its Sonja 1.3 speakers ($106,800/pair), driven by a Boulder music server and amplification via Kubala-Sosna cables. I had loved the Sonja 1.3 when I reviewed it for our July 2013 issue, but the big news at CES was the Sonja XV, one channel of which was on passive display in a side room. A four-tower system, with the midrange and tweeter tower resembling a '1.3 on steroids and intended to celebrate the Colorado company’s forthcoming 15th anniversary, the 'XV will be priced at a whopping $265,900/system.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 1 comments
Graham Nash auditioned the new gibbon X speakers in the DeVore Fidelity room, which featured an LP player with the longest Well-Tempered Tonearm made, at 18". It was great to see veteran designer William Firebaugh at the 2016 show, 30 years after his unique tonearm made its debut at CES, and still actively involved in high-end audio.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 2 comments
“Bruno Putzeys designed a switch-mode power supply for our new headphone amplifier,” enthused EveAnna Manley, when I bumped into her in one of the Venetian’s corridors. The tubed amp, which doubles as a line preamplifier, costs $2950 and is drop-dead gorgeous in Champagne & White, Titanium & Bronze, or Copper & Black finishes.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 16, 2016 2 comments
In our March 2016 issue, Art Dudley loved the sound of Metronome’s CD8 S CD player, which has USB and serial digital inputs, though I found some issues on the test bench. At CES, the French company was showing this elegant server, the Music Center 1 (price tba), which plays CDs, music from a USB stick, a NAS drive, or from its internal RAID3 array (1–6TB available).
John Atkinson Posted: Jan 04, 2016 Published: Sep 01, 1990 0 comments
You can blame Casey McKee for this one. I found myself sitting next to Casey, who works at Brooklyn high-end dealer Innovative Audio (footnote 1), in the Phoenix rain last March, watching the first Formula One Grand Prix of the 1990 season. A month later, in New York for the High End Hi-Fi Show, I therefore thought it appropriate to visit Innovative and say "Hi." Audio pleasantries over, Casey enthused about this new Italian turntable stand he was setting up as I walked into the store, the oddly named ArchiDee.
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John Atkinson Posted: Dec 15, 2015 Published: Jan 01, 2016 99 comments
My spirits sank as I read the comments on Stereophile's Facebook page. In the November issue, we had published reviews of UpTone Audio's USB Regen device by Kalman Rubinson, Michael Lavorgna, and myself. Michael and Kal had enthused about the positive effect the USB Regen had made, but I could detect no measurable difference. On Facebook, Dan Madden had written, "I think a device like this would need a blind listening test to verify that a listener could hear the difference in a statistically measurable way, in a very high percentage of times."
John Atkinson Posted: Dec 01, 2015 4 comments
The 2015 T.H.E. Show in Southern California clashed with my having to be in the office to ship our August issue to the printer, so I wasn't able to attend. But in devouring the online coverage on www.stereophile.com and its sister sites, on InnerFidelity.com I found a report by Tyll Hertsens about two new hi-rez portable players that made their debuts at T.H.E. Show: Questyle Audio Technology's QP1 ($599) and QP1R ($899).
John Atkinson Posted: Nov 25, 2015 6 comments
For me, one of the highlights of 2013 was being able to live with the Sonja 1.3, the flagship loudspeaker model from Colorado-based YG Acoustics. I reviewed this tall, massive, three-enclosure tour de force of a design, which costs $106,800/pair, in July 2013, and was not surprised when, for the December 2013 issue, Stereophile's writers voted it one of the magazine's two Loudspeakers of the Year. So when I was asked last spring if I wanted to review the new version of the smallest and least-expensive model in YGA's lineup, the request fell on receptive ears.
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 29, 2015 2 comments
I first met electronics engineer John Dawson in 1979, at a British audio show. The company he'd co-founded, A&R Cambridge, had just launched the A60, a slim, elegant-looking, 40Wpc integrated amplifier costing only £99 (then equivalent to $217).

By the time I reviewed the Mk.2 version, in the October 1984 issue of Hi-Fi News & Record Review, the A60's price had risen to £199 ($248), the company was now called Arcam, and more than 22,000 A60s had been sold, making it one of the best-selling amplifiers in England. While preparing that review I had visited Arcam's factory, near the English town of Ely, where Dawson had shown me filing cabinets containing a separate manufacturing report for each and every one of those A60s.

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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 29, 2015 4 comments
Perhaps because I grew up in post-WWII England, with austerity and food rationing the norm, I learned at an early age the value of frugality. It was a financial stretch for me to buy, in the late 1960s, my first real audio system: Garrard SP25 turntable with Audio-Technica cartridge, Kenwood integrated amplifier, Wharfedale Super Linton speakers. Even when I could afford to upgrade the system, other than replacing the Garrard with a Thorens TD 150 and the Audio-Technica with a Shure, I went the DIY route. Back then, in the early '70s, I assumed that the advent of op-amp chips like the Fairchild Semiconductor µA741 would make it possible for me to design and make, for example, a good-sounding preamplifier for a lot less than it cost to buy one from an established manufacturer. That assumption turned out to be wrong, of course, but frugality was, by then, a habit: too ingrained for me to shake entirely.

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