John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: May 27, 2007 Published: Nov 27, 1996 0 comments
You would have thought the hardware companies who trumpeted at the January 2006 Consumer Electronics Show that their video DVD players would be in US retailers' showrooms by September 1996 would have learned an important lesson from the bungled DAT launch almost 10 years ago: Without first getting complete agreement of the software industry on substantive issues, it's foolish to announce a firm launch date for a new medium. September came and went without DVD discs or players being available in US stores. In fact, all that happened was that the bottom fell out of sales of 12" laserdiscs and laserdisc players.
John Atkinson Posted: May 19, 2007 1 comments
When audiophiles speak of the "Golden Age" of audio components, they almost always are talking about amplifiers and preamplifiers, not loudspeakers. While a very few speaker models have stood the test of time—among them the BBC LS3/5a, the Vandersteen 2, the original Quad electrostatic and the Quad ESL-63, some of the Magnepans, and the Klipschorn—almost no one would disagree that, taken en masse, the speakers of today outperform not just those of the 1960s and 1970s but even those of the 1980s and 1990s. The advent of low-cost, computerized test equipment, high-quality, inexpensive measuring microphones, and persuasive research into what measured parameters matter most to listeners who are listening for a neutral-sounding, uncolored loudspeaker (footnote 1), has led to an almost across-the-board improvement in speaker sound quality (footnote 2).
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John Atkinson Posted: May 16, 2007 9 comments
Other Stereophile writers, like Wes Phillips and Stephen Mejias, had mentioned how impressed they had been with the sound in the Sjöfn room, but what I had not appreciated until I visited the Swedish manufacturer's room towards the end of the Show was: a) how small these speakers were; b) how good the stereo imaging was despite the speakers being right up against the wall behind them; and c) how much thunderous bass was being produced by just two reflex-loaded 4" woofers! Of course, the Guru speaker ($1800/pair), photographed here by Larry Greenhill, is designed to take advantage of the low-frequency boundary reinforcement afforded by the close-to-the-corner positioning, but even so, I was surprised by the result. The speakers also sung on soprano vocals; Sjöfn is a company to watch out for, especially as the fact that the speakers must not be used out in the room makes them very spouse-friendly.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 16, 2007 0 comments
Stereophile columnist John Marks brought an encyclopedic knowledge of music and musicians to the magazine when he started his "Fifth Element" column in March 2001. At HE2007, he played some of his favorite recordings in as many rooms as he could, including his own recording of the Herbert Howells organ piece Larry Greenhill mentioned in another posting (Master Tallis's Lament, a personal favorite of mine) and an extraordinary choral recording, When David Heard, from the young composer Eric Whitacre. As you can see from this photo taken in the Egglestonworks, Rogue, and Echobusters room, Showgoers very much appreciated John's efforts.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 16, 2007 2 comments
As Robert Deutsch mentioned in his report from the 2007 Montreal Show, Ofra (left) and Eli (right) Gershman of Gershman Acoustics have been exhibitors at just about every audio/home theater show the past few years. As in Montreal, the Gershmans were demming their new Sonogram speaker at HE2007. More conventional in appearance than their flagship Black Swan, the Sonogram, photographed here by Larry Greenhill, is priced at a very competitive $2500/pair.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 16, 2007 0 comments
An enduring aspect of Audio Shows is the meeting up of old friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, who all share a sense of belonging to a single community. Shown here in a chance meeting at the Grand Hyatt's entrance are (l–r): veteran speaker designer Richard Vandersteen, tube amp manufacturer Mark O'Brien of Rogue Audio, and Stereophile's associate publisher Keith Pray.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 15, 2007 0 comments
Stereophile's traditional "Ask the Editors" session took place Saturday afternoon. A room packed with audiophiles hurled questions at the panel, who included (from left to right in Jonathan Scull’s photo): Ken Kessler, Michael Fremer, Bob Deutsch, Larry Greenhill, Wes Phillips (at rear), and Sam Tellig. (Not shown in photo but still very vocal were Bob Reina, Kal Rubinson, John Marks, and Art Dudley.) I dodged the bullet by moderating but I was well pleased by the insightful nature of the questions asked.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 15, 2007 1 comments
They were a hit at last year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, so I asked Bob Cordell (resting his dogs in the photo), Peter "PJay" Smith, and Darren Kuzma to give a repeat performance of their seminars on amplifier and loudspeaker performance at HE2007. These ran throughout the Show, and I kept being stopped in the corridor by audiophiles who would say something like "Now I know what tube amplifier clipping sounds like" or "Now I know what is meant by 'dynamic range.'" I was reminded by something I had been told years ago, perhaps by Jon Iverson: that the only difference between an audiophile and an ordinary person is that the audiophile had a mentor who showed them how to listen. Bob's, PJay's, and Darren's efforts will create many, many audiophiles.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 14, 2007 2 comments
The program of seminars and workshops has been an important part of the Home Entertainment Show since its inception in 1987. For the past few years, Sunday afternoon has been the time for Stereophile Senior Editor Michael Fremer's guide to getting the best from LP playback. At this year's action-packed session, he showed a packed house to how to mount and align a phono cartridge on a VPI turntable, aided with close-up video help from Dave of Show contractor Moorea Marketing.
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John Atkinson Posted: May 11, 2007 0 comments
Free jazz quartet Attention Screen, which I recorded live at Manhattan's Merkin Hall in February, are performing a 60-minute set Saturday May 12 at 12:30pm, to celebrate the release at HE2007 of the resultant CD.

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