John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Jul 18, 2017  |  1 comments
Following my review of the floorstanding Magico S5 Mk.II last February, I spent some time with two-way stand-mounted speakers from Aerial Acoustics, Bowers & Wilkins, and Dynaudio. As much as I appreciated the small speakers' virtues, I found myself missing the big Magico's bass extension and ability to play loud; my next loudspeaker review, therefore, would be of another floorstander.

It's been a while since we published a review of a Rockport Technologies loudspeaker.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 20, 2017  |  14 comments
For digital playback, in recent months I've been breathing some rarefied air, pricewise. In December 2016, I reviewed dCS's Rossini Player and Clock, followed in May 2017 by Meridian's Ultra DAC, and in June by Chord's DAVE DAC. The Rossini Player costs $28,499 without the Clock, the Meridian $23,000, and though the DAVE is less expensive than either at $10,588, that's still a fair chunk of change. Even PS Audio's PerfectWave DirectStream DAC, which I bought following Art Dudley's review in September 2014, costs $6899 with the Network Bridge II, which hardly counts as "affordable."
John Atkinson  |  Jun 11, 2017  |  1 comments
The first room I went to at the 2017 LAAS was that hosted by LA dealer Optimal Enchantment featuring a system based on Vandersteen's Model Seven Mk.II speakers ($62,000/pair) and M7-HPA amplifiers ($52,000/pair), which I reviewed in May 2016, this time reinforced by a pair of Vandersteen's SUB NINEs operating below 100Hz. It may have been the first room I visited but as good as many other systems sounded, they didn't match what Vandersteen refers as System NINE for its effortless sweep of sound, precise, palpable imaging, and smooth yet detailed high frequencies.
John Atkinson, Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jun 11, 2017  |  28 comments
MQA's Bob Stuart comparing PCM and MQA recordings in the Sunny Components room

Despite there now having been many opportunities for audiophiles to compare MQA-encoded recordings with the PCM originals—as well as comparisons at shows and dealer events, the Norwegian 2L record label has offered downloads of MQA/PCM files for quite a long time—there are still members of the press who insist that no-one, other than some reviewers, has been able to perform such comparisons. At the 2017 LAAS, not only were some exhibitors demonstrating MQA—Aurender, Meridian—Covina, CA retailer Sunny Components devoted the show's Saturday afternoon to specific comparisons hosted by MQA's Bob Stuart and Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath.

John Atkinson  |  Jun 10, 2017  |  1 comments
I tend to be skeptical of tweaks. Too often in the past, I have heard an astonishingly audible difference when the whatever is demonstrated by its promoter, only for any difference to stubbornly disappear when I try the same thingamabob in my own system. But listening to the difference when Isotek's Bjorn Hegelsted replaced the cheap power strip and stock AC cords in a MoFi Distribution system using the impressive but affordable Wharfedale Diamond 225 speakers ($449/pair) driven by a Quad Artera Play CD player ($2199) and Artera Stereo amplifier ($2299) with a star-wired, 6-outlet Isotek Polaris conditioner ($495) and Isotek Premier AC cords ($149 each), the improvement in image palpability and dimensionality, the elimination of "shoutiness" on female voice, was extraordinary.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  4 comments
Following my keynote speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning, my beat at the Los Angeles Audio Show was the Sheraton Gateway's 1st and 5th floors. Even with just the two floors, this was a daunting prospect—considering that this was the show's debut, it had a larger number of exhibitors than any of us had anticipated. So without further ado, here's the first of my three reports.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 09, 2017  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1989  |  0 comments
The Monitor Audio R300/MD ($669/pair) debuted at the 1988 SCES in Chicago. English company Monitor Audio is one of the pioneers in spreading the use of metal-dome tweeters in relatively low-cost loudspeaker systems. The tweeters they have designed in conjunction with SEAS and British manufacturer Elac may have now found their ways into a number of designs from competing manufacturers, but there is no doubt that Monitor leads the way. The new R300/MD features a new ¾" version of the SEAS 1" aluminum-dome unit Monitor introduced with their R652/MD (reviewed in Vol.10 No.5), in conjunction with an 8" doped paper-cone woofer.
John Atkinson  |  May 18, 2017  |  21 comments
Fifteen years? Has it really been 15 years since I reviewed what was then the flagship D/A processor from English company Chord Electronics? In the July 2002 issue, here's how I summed up my review of the Chord DAC64: "While the Chord Electronics DAC64 is undoubtedly expensive, it is eye-poppingly gorgeous. . . . many listeners should find its silky-smooth highs seductive, as well as its slightly larger-than-life lows." How times and prices change—the "undoubtedly expensive" DAC64 cost only $3040! I did make a couple of criticisms of the DAC64 in my review, but according to Wes Phillips, in his August 2007 review of Chord's revised DAC64, "the Choral Blu [CD transport] and Choral DAC64 are, together, the CD player we music lovers have long prayed for"—even if, five years after my own review, the DAC64's price had risen to $5000.
John Atkinson  |  May 11, 2017  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1989  |  0 comments
"Amrita" is Sanskrit for "nectar," and indeed, the Amrita owner's manual states that they are confident their speakers "will provide Nectar For Your Ears." Although this Iowa-based manufacturer offers a large range of loudspeakers, I decided that Stereophile should review their small AMRIT-MiniMonitor ($875/pair) after Martin Colloms mentioned in his report from the 1987 SCES in Vol.10 No.5 that it sounded "pleasantly balanced on both rock and classical material." We received a pair for review in the summer of 1988, but it turned out that only one was working, the other having a very restricted low-frequency response below 100Hz. After repeated requests for replacements, Amrita's John Andre personally delivered a pair to Santa Fe in the Spring of 1989. This time, both worked out of the box!
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2017  |  6 comments
As I mentioned in my review eight years ago of Meridian Audio's 808.2 Signature Reference CD player, I have long been impressed by the British company's components—in fact, ever since the early 1980s, when I purchased a Meridian 101 preamplifier, followed by my very positive experiences with Meridian's MCD Pro and 208 CD players, 518 digital audio processor, D600 and DSP8000 digital active loudspeakers, and, most recently, the Prime and Explorer D/A headphone amplifiers.

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