John Atkinson

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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 4 comments
I missed a call when I was showering this morning. It was producer Elliot Mazer (right) asking me to visit him at the Music Giants booth, where he and Halcro’s Philip O’Hanlon (left) had something they wanted to me to see (and hear). Music Giants specializes in hi-rez music downloads and Elliot, it turns out, has been spending a lot of time working on transcoding SACD masters to 24/96 or 24/88.2 LPCM for record companies who are starting to realize that they might not ever get back their investment in the new formats from sales of physical discs.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 6 comments
The amiable team of industry veterans David Solomon (left) and Jim Spainhour (right) make up Signal Path, who distributes Musical Fidelity products in the US. They are seen here with MF’s new “audio Swiss Army knife,” the kW250, which includes a CD player, an FM tuner, a preamp with an MM phono stage, and a 250Wpc power amplifier for its $9000 price. A digital input on the back takes the feed from your music server and yes, there is a jack for your iPod on the front. "An ‘exit-level’ component," is how Jim describes it, "for the middle-aged music lover who wants system simplicity without sacrificing sound quality."
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 8 comments
It was only a couple of CEDIAs ago that Paradigm introduced its Signature series of high-performance speakers, and I was very impressed by the stand-mounted Signature S2 when I reviewed it for Stereophile in July 2005 (see http://www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/705paradigm/). But the Canadian company’s big news of the Show was that they have redesigned, not just the Signature series but their entire line! The new models use beryllium-dome tweeters and midrange units with aluminum cones treated with cobalt to add stiffness. The looks of the Signature series are still to die for, however.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 2 comments
It's official. I am a nerd! I couldn't resist snapping the interior of Theta's amplifier, which takes an audio input as PCM digital and transforms it into PWM digital without ever changing it back to analog until the music arrives at the speaker terminals.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 16, 2006 0 comments
Neil Sinclair gave me a tour of Theta’s new multi-channel amp, which keeps the signal exclusively in the digital domain from the S/PDIF inputs to the PWM output stage, the latter said to operate at the super-high frequency of 1MHz. Designed by veteran amp engineer Dave Reich, what is in effect a powerDAC—that’s what it says on the output-stage printed circuit boards—will find its way, I hope, into some two-channel products in due course.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2006 3 comments
Revel main man Kevin Voecks demmed the new four-way Ultima Salon2, previewed yesterday by Wes Phillips, for the Stereophile scribes. It was worth the wait. With all-Mark Levinson electronics, the dem program ranged over many music types, culminating in Little Feat’s “Long Distance Love,” whose awesomely deep low frequencies didn’t faze the speaker’s triple 8” titanium-cone woofers with their edge-wound rubbon voice-coils. Price will be $22k/pair, with availability in early spring ’07.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2006 0 comments
With David and Sheryl Lee Wilson in Europe for the Milan and London Shows, son Daryl demonstrated for me how the Utah company’s newly redesigned Watch Dog subwoofer doubles as designer seating. The sub is now a more manageable passive design, one third smaller than the original, and is stackable. The Passive Dog can be controlled either by a home theater system’s bass management or, in a music system, by the outboard Watch Controller. This has both balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs, and features versatile high- and low-pass filters.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 15, 2006 0 comments
For $129.95, the JBL Spyro 2.1 system—available in black, fuschia, or retro blue with chrome highlights, as well as white— hooks up to your MP3 player and provides 6Wpc of neodymium-magnet Odyssey satellite power and 24W of Atlas woofer action. But don’t you just love the stylin’ styling! Not just for Spyro the Dragon gamers.
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John Atkinson Posted: Sep 14, 2006 2 comments
As they had done at CES, Andrew Lipinski (right) and Lukas Lipinski set up a full surround system using their L-707 two-way monitors that had so impressed Larry Greenhill when he reviewed them for Stereophile last December.
John Atkinson Posted: Sep 09, 2006 0 comments
As readers of the Stereophile eNewsletter will be aware, the twin subjects of distributing music around my home and integrating my iTunes library of recordings into my high-end system have occupied much of my attention the past year. I bought an inexpensive Mac mini to use as a music server, using an Airport Express as a WiFi hub, which worked quite well, but my big step forward was getting a Squeezebox. I described this slim device in the mid-March and mid-April eNewsletters; I urge readers to read those reports to get the full background on this impressive device. In addition, the forums and Wiki pages on the Slim Devices website offer a wealth of information on getting the most from a Squeezebox.

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