John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Larry Archibald Posted: May 06, 2007 Published: Jun 06, 1990 0 comments
John Atkinson Opens
I've said it before and I'll say it again: a would-be loudspeaker designer shouldn't even start to think about the possibility of maybe designing a full-range, multi-way loudspeaker until he (and they do all appear to be men) has cut his teeth on a small two-way design. There is still as much art as science in designing a successful loudspeaker, even with all the computer-aided this and Thiele-and-Small that, that even a two-way design requires a designer either to be possessed of a monster talent or of the willingness to undergo months, even years, of tedious and repetitive work—or of both. For a would-be speaker engineer to start his career with a wide dynamic-range, multi-way design, intended to cover the entire musical spectrum from infra-bass to ultra-treble, seems to me to be a perfect case of an admittedly well-intentioned fool rushing in where any sufficiently self-critical angel would fear to tread.
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John Atkinson Posted: Apr 15, 2007 0 comments
"The whole band was in the hot tub. As water frothed over my bare breasts in the moonlight..."
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 09, 2007 0 comments
I began writing this essay on New Year's Day 2007. The passing of the old year reminded me that I am now in the 21st year of editing Stereophile, my 25th of being the editor-in-chief of a mainstream audio magazine, and my 31st of working full-time as an audio journalist. (Prior to joining Stereophile in 1986, I had worked for 10 years at British magazine Hi-Fi News & Record Review, the final four as its editor.) Back in the innocent 1970s, reviewers and editors generally picked and chose what products to review based on their own interest and what they felt appropriate for their readers to know about. Back then, there was only a tiny fraction of the audio brands now available to the audiophile, and even with fewer review pages than we now have, it was possible each year to cover a representative sample of the products being offered our readers. But such was the explosion in high-end audio throughout the 1980s that, by 1989, I felt it necessary to impose some restrictions on what products we choose for full review coverage in Stereophile.
John Atkinson Posted: Mar 03, 2007 Published: Nov 03, 1995 0 comments
Flip flip flip]...Where the heck is it?...[flip flip flip]...Got it!" What am I looking for? There, in black and white, on p.634 of J. Gordon Holt's Really Reliable Rules for Rookie Reviewers (footnote 1), is the Prime Directive On Loudspeaker Setup: "Never, ever, choose a loudspeaker that has too much bass extension for your room!"
John Atkinson Posted: Feb 25, 2007 Published: Dec 25, 1994 0 comments
As far as I can tell, Santa Fe–based speaker engineer John Bau had designed but four commercial loudspeakers before the TC-60 was launched at the 1994 Winter CES: in order of appearance, they were the Spica SC50i (1980), the TC-50 (1983), the Angelus (1987), and the SC-30 (1989). None were expensive, and all garnered much praise, both in Stereophile's pages and elsewhere.
John Atkinson Posted: Jan 28, 2007 0 comments
The first time I attended the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, in January 1986, I didn't get there until the second day of the Show. Still, by the beginning of the fourth and final day I'd managed to visit every high-end audio exhibit, and still had time to go back for seconds to the rooms that had sounded the best. Twenty years later, CES has grown so much that it's impossible for a single writer to visit even a quarter of the exhibits in which he might be interested. And even with the sort of team reporting Stereophile now practices, covering the Show has become an exercise in applied logistics for the busy journalist: "Should I wait for the free shuttle bus? Should I get a taxi—though I might get caught in Las Vegas's increasing traffic jams, or even just get stuck at the city's interminable traffic lights? Or should I take the new monorail—though that goes nowhere near the hotel in which [insert name of hot company] is demming its products?"
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 1 comments
Canadian speaker company PSB has majored in high-performance affordable speakers, with its tiny Alpha, introduced in 1992, becoming on of the best-selling speakers of all time. Designer Paul Barton (above), however, has been working on a flagship PSB speaker, which he demmed at the Lenbrook suite at the Hard Rock Hotel. Yet to be named, the new speaker will cost a still-affordable $4500/pair and spearheads a new line of six models to be introduced in the second quarter this year.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 0 comments
Covering a Show as large and as geographically diffuse as the CES invariably leads to moments of writer brainfade. I auditioned Sonus Faber's new Elipsa loudspeaker in the Sumiko suite at the Venetian on Tuesday evening just before the Show closed but had run out of space on my camera's memory card. Back in my hotel room Thursday evening, after the Show had closed until January 2008, I found my note to myself on my PDA reminding me that I needed to take the Elipsa's photo for this report. So words will have to suffice, I am afraid, as well as a link to Sonus Faber's website.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 0 comments
You'd think there was not much more to say when it came to horn speaker design. Yet there, in one of the Venetian's 29th-floor rooms was audible proof that progress can still be made. Designed by Japanese engineer Tetsuo Kubo (above), the Kubotek Haniwa SP1W33 horn speakers ($60,000/pair) use Electrovoice drivers loaded with midrange and low-frequency horns that continue the Tractrix flare around to the rear of the horn to minimize edge reflections. A separate DSP processor, the FPIC-100 Sound Signal Controller is used to correct the horns' phase characteristics independent of the amplitude response.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 2 comments
You'd think there was not much more to say when it came to horn speaker design. Yet there, in one of the Venetian's 29th-floor rooms was audible proof that progress can still be made. Designed by Japanese engineer Tetsuo Kubo (above), the Kubotek Haniwa SP1W33 horn speakers ($60,000/pair) use Electrovoice drivers loaded with midrange and low-frequency horns that continue the Tractrix flare around to the rear of the horn to minimize edge reflections. A separate DSP processor, the FPIC-100 Sound Signal Controller is used to correct the horns' phase characteristics independent of the amplitude response.

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