John Atkinson

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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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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 0 comments
It's called the "Cocktail Party Effect." You may be immersed in the middle of a crowd of audiophiles all talking at once, but when someone says something that catches your attention, such as your name, you can focus on the sound of that person's voice and exclude the babble. The noise suppression can be 9–15dB; ie, the sound being concentrated on seems to be three to four times louder than the ambient noise, according to Wikipedia. The exact mechanism of the Cocktail Party Effect is not known, but it is conjectured that it has something to do with the binaural nature of human hearing: the fact that we have two ears allows us to apply spatial discrimination to what would otherwise be a jumble of sound.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2007 6 comments
I fell in love with the sound of the unique omnidirectional mbl tweeter when I reviewed mbl 111 loudspeaker in August 2002, so I always treat my ears by visiting the Berlin company's room the last morning of a Show. At the 2007 CES, they were showing this: an assault on the state of the speaker art based on two the mbl 101E's upper-frequency modules mounted on top of one another, with separate active woofer towers. The excess of glass in the hotel suite led to a rather uptilted high-treble balanced, but the presentation was as awesome aurally as it was visually.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 6 comments
I looked into the Cary Audio Design room in the Venetian Towers to catch up with designer Dennis Had to find out what the North Carolina company had been up to since I visited them a year ago. But he was out, so I settled back to enjoy some fine music on Dynaudio Confidence C4 speakers—favorites of mine since I reviewed them in September 2003—driven by the 10th-Anniversary Edition of Cary's CAD805 single-ended triode monoblock, perhaps the finest-sounding of its breed. Source was the CAD-306 SACD player, back in production after some manufacturing problems with its Sony-sourced chipset. Nice. Very nice.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 3 comments
Whenever I have caught up with Ken Kessler (left) at audio shows in the past two years, he has uncharacteristically grumbled about all the work he was doing writing and compiling McIntosh...For the Love of Music. "Every time I interview someone connected with the iconic Binghampton audio company, they tell me about two more people I didn't know existed whom I should interview."
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 2 comments
I got an email from Stereophile columnist John Marks Wednesday night, urging me to visit the room at the Venetian featuring speakers from retailer On Track Audio. I always do what I am told by my writers, so I looked in Thursday afternoon. There I auditioned the Directorate loudspeaker system, designed by mastering engineer Bill Roberts. All four cabinets are sealed boxes and are finished in exquisitely in-laid veneers, the work of On Track's Jim Carnes, who looks understandably pleased with his work in my photo. The sound with Belles amplification, and Kimber Kable, was very promising, I thought.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 4 comments
I couldn't resist posting this photo, not of a product, but of photos of a product, just to get Mikey Fremer all riled up about the fact that the Continuum Caliburn turntable, for which he forked out mucho dinero, is no longer the Big Dog of LP playback.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 2 comments
The Canadian Gershman Black Swan speaker ($30,000/pair), which mounts the tweeter and midrange unit in a separate A-frame enclosure to prevent their performance being affected by vibrations from the woofer, made its debut at HE2006 last May, and I was looking forward to hearing what it could do at CES.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2007 4 comments
Stephen Mejias mention Garth Powell's passion for what he does in his report from the Furman room at CES. AJ Conti, the man behind turntable manufacturer Basis Audio, has a similar passion for what he does. His current attention is focused on getting the drive belts for his well-regarded turntables as flat as possible, to eliminate the last vestige of drive-system spuriae from the audio recovered from vinyl. Dissatisfied with the highest precision he could get from commercial ground-belt vendors, he invested in his own production machinery.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 11, 2007 1 comments
The SignalPath suite at the Mirage featured the company's Era speakers and Musical Fidelity electronics—but wait! What's that sitting on top of the kW250 integrated amplifier? It's a laptop!

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