John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Oct 05, 2014  |  2 comments
A reader recently asked if I preferred listening to loudspeakers or to headphones. There is no easy answer: Although I do most of my music listening through speakers, about 10% of that listening, for various reasons, takes place in the privacy of my headphones. I have also found that, since I purchased the Audeze LCD-X headphones following my review of them last March, I now tend to watch movies on my MacBook Pro, with the soundtrack reproduced by these headphones plugged into an AudioQuest DragonFly or whatever D/A headphone amplifier has been passing through my test lab. So when Meridian's PR person, Sue Toscano, asked me last Christmas if I'd be interested in reviewing the English company's new Prime D/A headphone amplifier ($2000) with its optional Prime Power Supply ($1295), it took me less than a New York minute to say "Yes."
John Atkinson  |  Oct 01, 2014  |  6 comments
Before I conclude our coverage of last weekend’s New York Audio Show, let me say that it was a pleasant surprise to find the Marriott’s corridors still busy before the show ended 5pm Sunday. While the show had a smaller number of exhibitors than I would have wished, the venue was excellent and the show was definitely a success and those manufacturers, distributors, and dealers who exhibited all had excellent traffic. Well done, Chester Group.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 01, 2014  |  0 comments
Sony's hot news at the New York show was the launch of what they called a "Walkman." However, this was no cassette player like the Walkpersons of 30 years ago but a hirez-capable file player with 64GB of RAM and a micro-SD slot for memory expansion. Priced at just $299 and beautifully styled, as you can see from the photo with David Chesky modeling it, the new Walkman makes my Astell&Kern player look clunky. But peculiarly, the new Sony player doesn't handle DSD files, just PCM up to 192kHz.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 30, 2014  |  12 comments
Billed as “Michael Fremer’s Ultimate Turntable Set-up Demo,” the final seminar at the Brooklyn show once again revealed that the editor of AnalogPlanet.com and Stereophile columnist has, as you might say, “large attachments.” I find setting up a phono cartridge the most stressful of audio-related activities, and that’s in the quiet of my home, with no pressure and all the time in the world. By contrast, Michael does it in public, with the clock ticking, an audience watching, and a high-definition video system showing a close-up of every move on the screen above and behind him.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 28, 2014  |  9 comments
The Brooklyn show offered a full program of seminars throughout the weekend, and one of the best-attended was "The Virtues of Vintage," which took place late Saturday afternoon. Chaired by Stereophile's Art Dudley (far left), a panel of expert anachrophiles comprising (L–R) Steve Rowell (Audio Classics), Mike Trei (Sound & Vision), Jonathan Halpern (Tone Imports), Joe Roberts (Silbatone and once Sound Practices) and Herb Reichert (Stereophile) started off by examining what great components from audio's past had to offer.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 26, 2014  |  First Published: Oct 01, 2014  |  8 comments
Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, "If you work in either journalism or politics . . . you will be flogged for being right and flogged for being wrong." I was reminded of Thompson's words when I read a forum post on our website. "Why is Stereophile way behind the other magazines?" asked "rs350z," explaining that, among things, he objected to Stereophile's supporting its reviews with measurements. "why waste the ink on doing measurements on each product reviewed," he wrote, with a disregard for capital letters. "There is no need to. I don't care if the distortion is 0.00005 or 0.00007, nor do i care about all of the other tests you do. What i care about is the sound, quality, finish, looks."
John Atkinson  |  Aug 22, 2014  |  0 comments
The French do things differently. I first heard Triangle loudspeakers at the 1981 Festival du Son, in Paris. That was, of course, after I had obtained admission to the show, in a nonintuitive process in which members of the press obtained their credentials at a booth inside the show. But my experience of the Triangle speaker, a small, three-way floorstander, was positive: It sounded clean and uncolored, and nothing like the BBC-inspired speakers I preferred at that time. The Triangle wasn't as neutral as the English norm, but there was something appealing about its sound—something that, I later learned, Stereophile's founder, J. Gordon Holt, referred to as jump factor.
Sam Tellig, John Atkinson  |  Jul 18, 2014  |  First Published: Apr 01, 2014  |  13 comments
They can't sound very good—they're not big enough. As we all know, in hi-fi, big products mean big performance. Musical Fidelity's V90 series can't be any good. They don't cost enough. With your golden ears, you must pay through the nose.

The V90 components turn all this around. They are tiny. Inexpensive. Beautifully built.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 18, 2014  |  First Published: Mar 01, 1989  |  1 comments
389accu.promo.jpg$13,000! You could buy two Hyundai Excels for that kind of money. Or one 5-liter Ford Mustang. Or two-thirds of a Saab 900 Turbo. How could the purchase of this Accuphase two-box CD player be justified on any rational grounds? What if it did offer state-of-the-art sound quality? Would it really be 50 times better than a humble Magnavox? Would it even be 4.3 times better than the California Audio Labs Tempest II CD player? And would it approach the sound quality routinely offered from LP by the similarly priced Versa Dynamics 2.0 turntable?
John Atkinson  |  Jun 25, 2014  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2014  |  5 comments
For exhibitors, showing off their products at audio shows is a crap shoot. The vagaries of arbitrarily assigned hotel rooms with unpredictable acoustics can play havoc with the sound of even the best-sounding systems. But over the years I've been attending shows, Joseph Audio's dems have always impressed me with how Jeff Joseph manages to set up his speakers so that they work with instead of against a hotel room's acoustics. Yes, Joseph's setup skills, going back to his days in audio retail, play an important role here. But his speakers, too, need to be of sufficiently high quality to benefit from those skills. And if they can be made to sing in a hotel room, they will also stand a better-than-usual chance of doing so in audiophiles' homes.

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