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John Atkinson Posted: Jun 16, 2016 2 comments
When Pass Labs is mentioned, it's natural to think of its founder, iconic engineer Nelson Pass. But Nelson heads a team of engineers at the California company: Their XP-30 preamplifier, which I enthusiastically reviewed in April 2013, was designed by Wayne Colburn; and the subject of this review, the HPA-1 headphone amplifier, is the first Pass Labs product designed by Jam Somasundram, former director of engineering for Cary Audio. Somasundram joined Pass Labs in July 2013; he spent a year working on the HPA-1, which was shown at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, but not formally launched until the 2016 CES, at a hefty $3500.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 10, 2016 4 comments
My beat at T.H.E. Show 2016 was the ground floor. En route to the audio exhibits, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this beautiful black Bugatti. No information on this particular car was available, but I assumed it was part of the display of tasty automobiles in the Hotel Irvine's lobby and outdoors pavilion, put on by Reus Car Audio Design, Whitledge Design, Wyred 4 Sound, Magnum Automotive Design, and The Source Audio Video Design Group. Pride of place in the car exhibit was Sony's Hi-Res Audio demo vehicle, which had been shown off two days earlier at the Capitol Studios event in Hollywood.
John Atkinson Posted: May 19, 2016 41 comments
Jim Austin briefly discusses MQA in his review of the Explorer2 in this issue, but a more complete description of MQA can be found in an article posted on Stereophile's website at the end of 2014.

MQA involves two fundamental concepts, discussed in a paper presented to the Audio Engineering Society in October 2014, the first responsible for a potential improvement in sound quality, the second responsible for a large reduction in the bandwidth required for storage and streaming of high-resolution files...

John Atkinson Posted: Apr 22, 2016 5 comments
Driving the Model Sevens at the 2014 CES were Vandersteen's then-new M7-HPA monoblocks, which provide a high-pass–filtered output (above 100Hz) to the upper-frequency drive-units of the Model Seven. At the time, I made a note to myself that I would like one day to try these amplifiers with the Sevens in my own room. That opportunity came later rather than sooner, after Vandersteen had updated the Model Seven to Mk.II status.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 21, 2016 8 comments
Sad, sad news - and he did the best SuperBowl Show evah!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NN3gsSf-Ys

One of my music heroes.

John Atkinson Posted: Mar 29, 2016 15 comments
When I reviewed the Antipodes DX Reference in October 2015, that $7500 media server made musical mincemeat of my regular computer audio setup: a headless 2.7GHz i7 Mac mini fitted with 8GB of RAM and Pure Music and Audirvana apps. Coincident with the publication of that review, Aurender launched its N10 music server ($7999) at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I had been impressed with Aurender's Flow USB headphone amplifier when I reviewed it in June 2015, so I asked for an N10.
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 24, 2016 16 comments
In the early 1970s, I lived in a village 40 miles north of London, England, and regularly drove through an only slightly larger village called Houghton Regis. And every time I did so, this budding audiophile was thrilled to see a factory in the High Street with a nameplate proudly announcing that it was the site of Teledyne Acoustic Research's European operations. I was aware of the American brand because of a chance encounter with a pair of Acoustic Research LST speakers, and the geographical connection led to an increased interest in their speakers (footnote 1). A sort of local-boy-, er, local-multinational conglomerate-makes-good story. Sort of.
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 14, 2016 5 comments
We received the following email this afternoon. Sad, sad news. I shall remember the Richard Beers of unlimited energy and enthusiasm, pictured above at the 2013 T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, CA. Richard made audio shows fun for all—exhibitors, press, and most all audiophiles of every persuasion. We’ll miss you, Richard.—John Atkinson


Dear Industry Friends,

My name is Maurice Jung and I am the interim President for T.H.E. Show Newport. It is with heartfelt sorrow that I must inform you of the passing of Mr. Richard Beers. . .

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John Atkinson Posted: Feb 23, 2016 Published: Mar 01, 2016 13 comments
One of the benefits of belonging to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a subscription to their monthly magazine, IEEE Spectrum. Superbly written and edited, this journal keeps me up to date on emerging technology, and entertains me with things like reprints, on the final page, of vintage advertisements. Their January 2016 issue, for example, featured an ad from December 1920, promoting the Victor Talking Machine Company's Victrola: "By all means get a Victrola this Christmas, but be sure it is a Victrola and not some other instrument made in imitation. $25 to $1500. Victor dealers everywhere."
John Atkinson Posted: Jan 27, 2016 29 comments
Like all men, I learned at an early age to resist the allure of a pretty face.

Okay—I learned that I should try to resist the allure of a pretty face.

Okay, I confess: I have never been able to resist the allure of a pretty face. Which is why, when I first clapped eyes on the Mojo D/A headphone amplifier from English company Chord Electronics, at an event hosted by Manhattan retailer Stereo Exchange, I had to borrow a sample for review.

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