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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 14, 2007 Published: Jun 01, 1996 0 comments
"Rave on down through the corridors,
"Rave on words on printed page!"
—Van Morrison, "Rave On John Donne"
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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 14, 2007 Published: Jul 01, 1996 0 comments
"Words are pegs to hang ideas on."—Henry Ward Beecher
John Atkinson J. Gordon Holt Posted: Nov 10, 2007 0 comments
It was 45 years ago this month that the first issue of Stereophile, just 20 pages in length, went in the mail. It had been founded by one J. Gordon Holt. Gordon had been technical editor of High Fidelity magazine in the 1950s, and was tired of being asked to pander to the demands of advertisers. "I watched, first with incredulity and then with growing disgust, how the purchase of a year's advertising contract could virtually insure a manufacturer against publication of an unfavorable report," he said in a 1974 article looking back at those dark times. And if a company didn't buy advertising, they didn't get reviewed at all. The Stereophile, as it was then called, was Gordon's answer to audiophiles' need for an honest, reliable source of information. "Okay, if no one else will publish a magazine that calls the shots as it sees them, I'll do it myself," he later wrote.
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John Atkinson Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 03, 2007 Published: Dec 03, 1986 0 comments
It was eight years ago that I first met Aalt Jouk van den Hul. I was visiting Ortofon in Denmark, and, with a group of hi-fi journalists from all over Europe, was traveling by bus to visit the cartridge-production facility in the far south of that country. Bus journeys are not my ideal way of passing time; naturally I gravitated to the rear of the bus, where bottles of Tuborg were making their presence felt. One journalist, however—a pixieish fellow hailing from The Low Countries—resisted the blandishments of the opened bottles. Producing a sheath of black-and-white glossies from his briefcase, he announced that he had just developed the ultimate stylus profile!
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John Atkinson Posted: Nov 03, 2007 Published: Sep 03, 1996 0 comments
In recent months, Stereophile's "Letters" column has been filled with complaints about the equipment we choose to review. "Too rich for my pocketbook" is the universal sentiment. This puzzles me, considering that Stereophile does review many "affordable" components. In part, I think this reaction is due to the high profile invariably associated with very expensive gear. Although we did put both speakers on our cover, one review of a Wilson Grand SLAMM or a JMlab Grand Utopia seems to outweigh 10 reviews of more realistically priced products. Our writers love to cover the cutting edge of audio—witness Martin Colloms's report from HI-FI '96 in this issue—because progress is more easily made when a designer is freed from budget constraints. But without the Grand SLAMM or Utopia, would Wilson have been able to produce the $9000/pair WITT, or JMlab the $900/pair Micron Carat, to name two high-value, high-performance designs recently reviewed in the magazine?
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 28, 2007 0 comments
The invitation looked intriguing: "We are happy to welcome you to The Netherlands in September for the offical introduction of the Siltech Pantheon Loudspeaker." Siltech introducing a loudspeaker? I was well familiar with the Dutch company, celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, as a cable manufacturer. Indeed, some of the first high-end cables I had found to sound better than what I had been used to were Siltechs, back in the mid-1980s. Paul Bolin had been impressed by his auditioning of more recent G5 models in 2004. And Siltech's founder, Edwin van der Kley, is married to the irrepressible Gabi van der Kley, principal of Crystal Cable with whom I had had a rather intense breakfast meeting with during last May's Home Entertainment 2007. (All conversations with Gabi are intense.) But loudspeakers?
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 21, 2007 0 comments
A Show like last week's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest presents me with conflicts. As a member of the press I should be spending my time covering the Show. However, I am also spending my time as a participant, in this case giving a series of presentations in which I allowed Showgoers the opportunity to listen to the hi-rez masters of many of my Stereophile recordings and compare them with CD and MP3 versions.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 16, 2007 4 comments
After hosting three hour-long seminars on Sunday (following five on Friday and Saturday), I spent the final hours of the 2007 RMAF racing around rooms I really wanted to hear before the Show closed at 4pm. At 4:30pm, I stopped by what would be my last room, the one featuring a new name to me, Salagar Speakers. This Illinois company is aiming high: its first product is a beautifully finished, physically large two-way active design, the Symphony S210, that combines a 1" soft-dome tweeter with a 10" woofer in an unusual curved enclosure. Power is provided by internal ICEpower class-D modules, and the integral X-ACT crossover operates in the digital domain and includes the facility to adjust the speaker's balance to cope with room acoustics problems. The Symphony S-210 costs $7,999/pair complete with crossover, and showed promise, even in the less-than-optimal hotel room.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 16, 2007 0 comments
After several years of collaboration with Lew Johnson and Bill Conrad with McCormack Audio, Steve McCormack went it alone a year or so back with SMc Audio. He was demming SMc's first product at RMAF, the $6800 VRE-1 line preamplifier ("VRE" stands for "Virtual Reality Engine"). The solid-state design uses Lundahl and Jensen coupling transformers and uses J-FETs in a zero-feedback circuit. Unusually, it dispenses with the otherwise ubiquitous solid-state voltage regulators in its power supply. Instead, it uses a choke-smoothed voltage rails, which Steve feels eliminates any trace of "transistor" sound. Next to come will be a matching phono stage.

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