John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 05, 2007 Published: Sep 05, 1988 0 comments
One of the things endured by engineers and journalists involved in the design and discussion of high-end components is the seemingly endless attacks from those who, for whatever reason, feel that there is something unhealthy, even vaguely immoral, in the whole idea of wanting to listen to music with as high a quality as possible. The Listening Studio's Clark Johnsen reminded me recently of a letter from Daniel Shanefield that I published in the January 1984 issue of Hi-Fi News & Record Review that illustrates the whole genre: "It is utterly useless to write an amplifier review based on listening tests. If there were anything other than mere frequency response variation, it might be interesting...most hi-fi magazines will...forswear attempts to review amplifiers for their 'inherent sounds.' There are still plenty of interesting things to talk about in reviewing amplifiers, such as features, power, cost effectiveness, beauty, etc." (Of course, Daniel Shanefield is not quite as authoritative a published amplifier reviewer as, say, J. Gordon Holt or Harry Pearson of The Abso!ute Sound.)
John Atkinson Posted: Dec 29, 2006 Published: May 29, 1990 0 comments
Some reviews seem ill-fated from the get-go: samples break; systems go wrong; test equipment gives anomalous measurements; and at times the reviewer starts to doubt his or her ears when it seems impossible to get the component being reviewed to sound anywhere as good as reported by other writers. Such was the case with this review of the Celestion 3000. When Celestion's Barry Fox visited Santa Fe three days before Christmas 1989 with early samples of the speaker, we were dismayed to find that the ribbon of one of the pair was crinkled and immobile, apparently due to the extruded-aluminum magnet frame warping in transit. Fortunately, Barry had brought a spare tweeter with him, to show how it worked, so we replaced the broken one in order to do some listening.
John Atkinson Posted: Dec 10, 2006 Published: Dec 10, 1994 0 comments
The SC-I ($995/pair) is the smallest model in the "Signature Collection" to come from Dunlavy Audio Labs, the company founded by John Dunlavy after he left Duntech. The largest model in this series used to be the $4995/pair SC-IV that Robert Deutsch so enthusiastically reviewed last April, and that this month was voted Stereophile's 1994 "Product of the Year." There is now also a huge SC-VI available.
John Atkinson Posted: Nov 26, 2006 Published: Sep 26, 1987 0 comments
Some six or so years ago, the Linn Asak cartridge set new standards for imaging and soundstage reproduction. I can remember the first time I heard an Asak in a system using Quad ESL-63s—I had never experienced such depth of soundstage and solidity of imaging from any system, and that with Quad amplification! The Asak was relatively quickly overshadowed in this area, however, and in any case, soundstaging precision by itself didn't seem to be a high priority for the Linn design team, who were apparently more concerned with dynamics and a musical integration of the sound across the frequency range.
Wes Phillips John Atkinson Posted: Nov 12, 2006 Published: Dec 12, 2006 0 comments
Wes Phillips on the Sessions
One of the enduring myths of audiophilia is that of the recording as a true and honest picture of a musical event—a sonic "snapshot" that captures a unique moment of time the way a photograph captures the light of a day long since past.
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 29, 2006 Published: Nov 29, 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!"
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 29, 2006 0 comments
Kalman Rubinson enthused over JL Audio's Fathom f113 powered subwoofer in his November "Music in the Round" column. Unfortunately, brainfade on my part when I wrote the text for the cover of that issue of Stereophile meant that the subwoofer was credited to "JL Labs." And in all the proof-reading that goes on while an issue of the magazine is being prepared, we all noted a) that the words "JL Labs" were both spelled correctly on the cover and b) that the words "JL Audio" were also spelled correctly on the contents page and all the way through Kals's column.
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John Atkinson Posted: Oct 15, 2006 0 comments
It's a jungle out there. The shrinking shelves of your neighborhood newsstand drip with the blood and corpses of magazines that have gone under in the intense battle for browsers' eyeballs. And only if we can make our latest issue's cover sufficiently eye-catching to get enough newsstand browsers to pick up and buy a copy do we get to play another round of the game. (Conventional publishing wisdom holds that, at most, a magazine's cover has six seconds to get its message across.)
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 08, 2006 Published: Apr 08, 1997 0 comments
The speaker review in the July 1996 issue of the German audio magazine Stereoplay didn't hold back the praise. "Absolut Spitzenklasse III Referenz" was their overall rating, which I guess translates to "You'd better hear this, buddy," in American English. So when MBL of America's Marc Lawrence called to find out if I wanted to review the subject of that review, the MBL 111, I didn't need to be asked twice.
John Atkinson Posted: Oct 01, 2006 Published: May 01, 2006 0 comments
John Atkinson on the Recording
"This will fix it!" Kimber Kable's Ray Kimber placed some acoustic baffles around the table on which sat my Apple TiBook. We were recording Robert Silverman performing one of Beethoven's masterworks for piano, the Diabelli Variations, Op.120, and I had been bothered by a faint whistle underlying the music. It turned out to be the sound of my laptop's fan, an unforeseen drawback of my decision to dispense with tape and record straight to hard drive for the August 2004 sessions. We had already had a problem with a slight slapback echo from the balcony of the Austad Auditorium at Weber State University in Utah, which Ray had fixed with drapes, and a problem with low-frequency rumble from airplanes overflying the college campus during one session had been solved by Ray phoning the air traffic control tower. However, even Ray couldn't deal with thunder, so that was the one session we decided to finish early.

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