Think Pieces

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Jim Austin  |  Dec 06, 2016  |  33 comments
Although I've never tried one, I think "lifestyle" audio systems are a bit of a joke. My in-laws' decade-old Bose Wave Radio sounds good for what it is, although its obvious flaws—boomy, undefined lower mids masquerading as bass, a frustrating lack of sonic and musical resolution, etc.—become grating fairly quickly. These days, there are far more accomplished and expensive lifestyle systems out there, but because I haven't tried them I won't comment on them, except to say that I'm not really interested.
J. Gordon Holt  |  Oct 12, 2015  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1979  |  4 comments
Long-time Stereophile readers May be dismayed by what appears to be our unfettered satisfaction with some of the recent crop of new components. Aren't we, after all, dedicated to the pursuit of perfection? Do we really feel that some products are all that close to it? The answer to both questions is "Yes."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 04, 2015  |  5 comments
A comment by "cgh" in an online reprint of a Stereophile review caught my attention: "The [1990s] were probably the last real decade that we could reasonably bend the truth. Everything since is verifiable electronically."

Everything?

Bob Katz  |  Dec 22, 2014  |  25 comments
In the 2014 November issue, my good friend Steve Guttenberg ("Communication Breakdown") got his facts mostly right: It's true that most listeners (including myself) accept far more distortion today than we did years ago. Many people have never heard a great stereo system—all they've heard are overdriven boom boxes, cheap stereos, and portable systems, and that's what they expect systems and music to sound like. And distortion is part of the sonic language of such musical genres as hip-hop, rap, and alternative rock.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 21, 2014  |  First Published: May 01, 2005  |  10 comments
This essay first appeared in the May 2005 Stereophile eNewsletter. But as the opinions and comments are still relevant in 2014 and in some ways the phenomenon of over-compression in recorded music (footnote 1) is just as bad, I thought it worth republishing.—John Atkinson

I write these words mere hours after returning home from Home Entertainment 2005, the Show cosponsored by Stereophile magazine that took place from April 28 through May 1 at the Manhattan Hilton. A full report will appear in the August 2005 issue of the magazine.

John Atkinson  |  Nov 19, 2013  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2005  |  85 comments
When I became Stereophile's editor in 1986, the median age of the magazine's readership was the same age as I was then, 38; ie, half the readers were younger than 38, half older. According to our most recent reader survey, the median reader age is now 48, meaning that in the intervening 19 years, that median reader has aged at half the rate of the rest of us. A nice trick. But older that reader certainly has become, which has led to cries of doom from some quarters of the audio industry.
Bill Leebens  |  Sep 20, 2013  |  134 comments
There are all sorts of ways of having fun, and just as many ways of spending money. Most of the time, spending money is necessary to have fun; whether it's going to a movie, having dinner out, scrapbooking, playing video games, whatever—nothin's free.
John Atkinson  |  Aug 22, 2013  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2005  |  1 comments
"Without content, television is nothing more than lights in a box."—Edward R. Murrow, 1958

"When it comes to video, most audiophiles are insufferable snobs."—J. Gordon Holt, 1984

Those who have followed the arguments between audiophiles and home-theater enthusiasts in the pages of Stereophile—I lifted the Murrow quote from a 1996 battle between Steve Guttenberg (representing the former community) and Joel Silver (representing the latter)—will have no doubt over which side of the argument I am on.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 16, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2006  |  28 comments
You could sense the frustration in Keith Pray's e-mail. "We are on the same team. I have always respected your wishes and will continue to do so," he had written me. At the request of a possible advertiser, Stereophile's publisher had asked me a question about something appearing in the issue of Stereophile we were preparing. I had responded that not only would I not give him an answer, I felt it inappropriate for him to ask.
Stereophile Staff  |  Aug 09, 2013  |  6 comments

In April 2013, Stereophile editor John Atkinson took part in two Music Matters evenings held by Colorado retailer ListenUp. JA took time off from the formal presentations to talk to ListenUp's George McClure about how we perceive music and about what matters most when we record and playback music.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 08, 2013  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2005  |  9 comments
"Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature . . ."—Michael Faraday

"When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy against him."—Jonathan Swift

John Atkinson  |  Jul 16, 2013  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2006  |  0 comments
"At last!" I rushed to open the UPS package with the familiar Amazon logo. "It's arrived!"

"What's arrived?" My 13-year-old daughter Emily showed some uncharacteristic curiosity.

"The new Pink Floyd two-DVD set, P.U.L.S.E, which I've had on order for what seems like forever. It contains four hours of music!"

"What's that, like three Pink Floyd songs?"

John Atkinson  |  Jul 16, 2013  |  First Published: Aug 01, 2005  |  2 comments
"It's not just it doesn't work as well, it doesn't sound as good!"

Veteran audio reviewer Martin Colloms and I were taking a preprandial walk across London's Hampstead Heath, following Cream's reunion concerts at the Royal Albert Hall last May. Martin was getting animated:

"And don't ask about the whiskers!"

Of course, I had to ask about the whiskers.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 09, 2013  |  First Published: May 01, 2006  |  1 comments
I'm still using a Mac mini as a music server, using iTunes on this host server to stream music to my listening-room system via the Apple Airport Express WiFi hub. However, as the Airport Express is limited to CD-quality music, I tend to use them for nonserious listening, when I am involved in some other activity. One of those activities this past week or so was reading a new book from erstwhile Stereophile record reviewer Allen St. John: Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument (hardcover, 288pp; Free Press, New York, $25).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 23, 2013  |  7 comments

John Atkinson at the 2012 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

Since I gave this presentation at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October 2012, based on one of the topics in my Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture and mentioned in my March 2013 "As We See It," I have repeated it at Music Matters evenings at Definitive Audio in Seattle and Listen-Up in Denver, and at audiophile society meetings in Minneapolis, California's Central Coast, and Connecticut. I will be repeating the presentation at a Music Matters event at Georgia retailer Audio Alternative, Wednesday April 24, at 6pm, at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, at 12 noon, May 31, and at The Audiophile Society in Brooklyn, NY on June 22.

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