John Atkinson on Speaker Measurements

In just a couple of weeks, my boss, John “Ice Cool” Atkinson, will celebrate 25 years as editor of Stereophile, the greatest hi-fi magazine on the planet (and don’t you forget it). As editor, JA has refined the hi-fi industry in many ways, and has taught us all so much, but it’s perhaps his loudspeaker measurements which have been most influential and fascinating.

In these 25 years, JA has performed extensive technical analyses of well over 700 different loudspeakers, an accomplishment that, in my opinion, cannot be overestimated. On several occasions, I’ve had the privilege of watching John go through the process—a slow, long, often tedious, often thankless process, and one which often involves some very heavy lifting. The dude is tireless.

So, it was cool for me to see a large group of audiophiles and music lovers on hand to listen as JA discussed that process in detail, illuminating how and why he does what he does. “I’ll describe what I do,” he said, “what the measurements mean, what they don’t mean, and how we can use them to understand what we hear….”

That’s my boss!

soulful.terrain's picture

I have been following JA's writings, reviews, and equipment measurements since 1994, and I concur, JA is a brilliant man!

Mark Evans

Glotz's picture

There should be a college where JA and Robert Harley would be professors for the industry. It's ironic that in an industry with so many detractors, there are so many brilliant, honest, transparent figures, who not only understand the engineering aspects (and pioneer them), but are also great writers as well.

I think the very fact there isn't a technical college for the engineering field in consumer audio is another real reason why High End is losing traction over the years.

JA and RH have taught me a lot, and while I haven't pursued a career in audio reproduction, IT, or EE, their info and work has been very focused on our specific segment more than any college or university that I know of. Much of the industry does have it's origins in electrical engineering, but the practice of creating or understanding great sounding gear is very much an art. Proof of that is in many well-intended pieces of gear that many follow the tenets of good engineering, but then realize that is not the whole picture in the least.

It's too bad that most advances in audio are the proprietary intellectual property of a brilliant designer that will remain semi-secret for years to come.

LenM's picture

Is there an audio download of John's speaker measurement presentation?  Downloadable copies of his presentation?

MikeMaine's picture

Not exactly an SRO house.