John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Apr 20, 2018  |  3 comments
Lunch? A quick donut and a Tall Café Mocha at the Renaissance Hotel's Starbucks and I was ready to hit the remaining floors on the 16th floor. "These are not your father's Ohms!" read the poster in the HHR Exotic Speakers room. Looked like 'em to me, but I was quickly enlightened.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 19, 2018  |  3 comments
I hit the ground running Sunday morning, with many rooms to visit but only six hours to do so. I started with the 16th floor suite featuring horn speakers from German company Avantgarde. Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the wall" was playing on the humongous, four-way Trio XD horn system ($150,000 with four bass horns) and the kick drum did indeed kick me in the chest. (Peak spls, measured with the Studio Six iPhone app, reached 102.3dBC, slow.) Rest of the system included Esoteric source and amplification, Transparent cabling, and an HRS racks. There weren't any colorations that could be laid at the feet of the horns, though voices were projected forward in the soundstage. An extraordinary sound and a great way to start the day.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  2 comments
I started my second day at the Chicago show in the Dynaudio room, where the Danish loudspeaker company's Special 40 stand-mounts ($3000/pair) were being driven by an Octave 80SE integrated amplifier ($10,500) with its Super Black Box external power supply ($3000) . . . this dem illustrated how matching a relatively small speaker to a smallish room can produce optimal and excellent sound quality.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2018  |  3 comments
"What are you doing here?" MartinLogan founder Gayle Sanders has been long gone from the audio industry but there he was in the corridor of the Schaumburg Renaissance hotel's 7th floor. "I love the industry and I wanted to come back and play," Gayle laughed as he introduced me to his Eikon Image1 digital active loudspeaker ($24,500/system).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 13, 2018  |  1 comments
A half-hour after the show opened (held today, tomorrow, and Sunday at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel, 1551 Thoreau Drive North, Schaumburg, IL), this was the scene in front of the seminar center, where a presentation on Room EQ Wizard was about to start. With well over 160 exhibit and listening rooms and another 80 booths, and what must be every dealer in Illinois participating, this is the biggest consumer audio show to be held in the US in quite a while.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 29, 2018  |  0 comments
I have long been aware of English audio company Prism Sound, both from my use at the turn of the century of their excellent PCI card–based DScope2 measurement system (footnote 1), and from some of my friends' enthusiasm for Prism's SADiE digital audio workstation. Prism Sound was founded in 1987 by two DSP engineers, Graham Boswell and Ian Dennis, who had first met when working at mixing-console manufacturer Rupert Neve, in Cambridge, England. From the beginning, Prism Sound operated exclusively in the world of professional audio, but a year or so ago I began seeing their first domestic audio product, the Callia, at audio shows.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 20, 2018  |  13 comments
Radka Toneff & Steve Dobrogosz: Fairytales: Original Master Edition (MQA)
Odin LP03 (original LP, 1982); Odin CD9561 (24-bit/48kHz MQA-encoded FLAC file; Tidal Masters stream; hybrid MQA-CD; original sample rate 192kHz; 2017). Arild Andersen, prod. (1982, 2017); Andreas Risanger Meland, exec. prod. (2017); Tore Skille, Tom Sætre, original engs.; Svein Vatshaug, Rune Sund Nordmark, recorder restoration; Thomas Baårdsen, Geir Iversen, digital transfer of original tapes; Morten Lindberg, Peter Craven, Bob Stuart, digital restoration; Erik Gard Amundsen, technical advisor. DAA (original LP); DDD (MQA). Except: "My Funny Valentine," ADA (LP), ADD (MQA). TT: 40:11
Performance ******
Sonics ******

"See her how she flies . . ." When I first heard that lyric, from Jim Webb's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," sung by a hauntingly fragile woman's voice and supported by a sparse yet lyrical piano accompaniment, at an audio show in 1983, I got chills. Who was this empathetic singer? Back in my cabaret-musician days, more than four decades ago, I backed so many singers with beautiful-sounding pipes but who didn't seem to comprehend the meaning of the words—yet this unknown woman directly communicated the song's emotion.

John Atkinson  |  Mar 05, 2018  |  46 comments
In the first two parts of our video coverage of Jana Dagdagan's and my visit to PS Audio in Boulder, Colorado, we toured the factory and I interviewed the company's founder Paul McGowan. In this final video, I listen to three of my own recordings played on the legendary IRS V loudspeaker system, driven by PS Audio's BHK 300 monoblocks. I recorded the sound with Sennheiser's "Ambeo" binaural system, which mounts microphones on the outer surfaces of a pair of earbuds, and if you listen along on headphones, you will hear what I heard!
John Atkinson  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  11 comments
Stereophile writers have reviewed three versions of Sonus Faber's stand-mounted, two-way loudspeaker, the Guarneri: Martin Colloms on the original Guarneri Homage, in 1994; Michael Fremer on the Memento edition, in 2007; and Art Dudley on the Evolution, in 2012. The Guarneri has always been an expensive speaker—$9400/pair with matching stands in 1995, $15,000 with stands in 2007, $20,000/pair plus $2000 for the stands in 2012—but its prices have been related to its build quality and appearance, both of which have always been superb. Now we have the Guarneri Tradition, for $15,900/pair, including stands.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 28, 2018  |  13 comments
Earlier this week, we posted a video blog with PS Audio's founder and CEO Paul McGowan giving Jana Dagdagan and me a post-CES tour around the Boulder, Colorado company's factory. Following the tour, I sat down with Paul in Music Room One and in a wide-ranging conversation, we talked about amplifiers and loudspeakers, DACs and audio systems, and the state of high-end audio.

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