John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Jan 09, 2007  |  First Published: Jan 10, 2007  |  1 comments
A number of Stereophile writers have been having unexpected musical moments with JBL's massive horn-loaded K2 9800 loudspeaker at recent shows, but the 2007 CES saw the US debut of the awesome Everest ($60,000/pair).
John Atkinson  |  Jan 09, 2007  |  2 comments
One of the bugbears of mounting speakers—and especially subwoofers—in a wall is that the drive-unit behavior depends on the less-than-rigid behavior of the sheetrock. Most manufacturers of architectural speakers get around this by using a back box to provide the correct acoustic loading. THX's Laurie Fincham (who is going to hate me for referring him as one of the grand old men of English audio) had a different idea.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 09, 2007  |  0 comments
Since my first CES, in 1979, I have always enjoyed the chance encounters in the corridors. Some of these turn out to be with people who, unknown at the time, end up being audio superstars. I don't know whether Larry Forbes will succeed, but he certainly has the passion. His Klee Cables use flat, thin conductors of different metals and he has applied for a patent for this conductor configuration, having not found any prior art. Well yes, Larry admits, Goertz did something similar, but that didn't involve different metals. You can contact Larry at
John Atkinson  |  Jan 09, 2007  |  1 comments
Italian manufacturer Simetel, who makes tube amplifiers with a distinctively "retro" appearance, showed its new Nightingale Gala two-chassis power amplifier in one of the Venetian's lower-level rooms. Tubed power supply is one chassis, the tubed amplification stage, using 300Bs, is is on the second. Projected price is $16,000, and Simetel has now set up its own US distributor. Designer and company founder Luciano Del Rio stands by the silver-finish Gala (black is also available), which was being demmed with Revolver Cygnis speakers.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 09, 2007  |  2 comments
The mark of a great large speaker is that it can sound small when the music demands it. Such was the case with the humongous La Sphère speaker from French manufacturer Cabasse, one of the many high-end companies who chose to “outboard” this year at an off-site hotel. With its four-way coaxial design, it resembles a scaled-up version of the Baltic that Mikey Fremer reviewed in September 2005, but is fully active with the crossover realized in the digital domain. Demonstrated in a large room with Cabasse’s own amplification and Bel Canto preamp and source components, it offered tremendous dynamic range and loudness capability on full-scale orchestral music and film soundtracks (for which the pair of Spheres was joined by a full surround system and a subwoofer using a 22” driver). For me, however, the magic was greatest when Christopher Cabasse (shown standing with his company’s creation) played a two-channel recording of solo violin and piano, proving that La Sphère can be a quiet speaker when necessary.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 09, 2007  |  0 comments
Because of the restrictions placed on merchandise sales at CES, the usual Acoustic Sounds booth, stocking much-in-demand LPs, SACDs, and CDs, was nowhere to be found. But the Kansas company still had a display room showing the hardware lines it distributes, including Thorens, Sutherland, and Stirling. But founder Chad Kassem was most proud of the new Analogue Productions LP: the Ultimate Analogue Test LP. Produced by Clark Williams and Barry Wolfson, with input from George Marino and others, cut at Sterling Sound, and pressed on 180gm vinyl by RTI, the Test LP has a selection of tracks to enable the LP lover to optimally set up his system.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 05, 2007  |  First Published: Sep 05, 1988  |  0 comments
One of the things endured by engineers and journalists involved in the design and discussion of high-end components is the seemingly endless attacks from those who, for whatever reason, feel that there is something unhealthy, even vaguely immoral, in the whole idea of wanting to listen to music with as high a quality as possible. The Listening Studio's Clark Johnsen reminded me recently of a letter from Daniel Shanefield that I published in the January 1984 issue of Hi-Fi News & Record Review that illustrates the whole genre: "It is utterly useless to write an amplifier review based on listening tests. If there were anything other than mere frequency response variation, it might be interesting...most hi-fi magazines will...forswear attempts to review amplifiers for their 'inherent sounds.' There are still plenty of interesting things to talk about in reviewing amplifiers, such as features, power, cost effectiveness, beauty, etc." (Of course, Daniel Shanefield is not quite as authoritative a published amplifier reviewer as, say, J. Gordon Holt or Harry Pearson of The Abso!ute Sound.)
John Atkinson  |  Dec 29, 2006  |  First Published: May 29, 1990  |  0 comments
Some reviews seem ill-fated from the get-go: samples break; systems go wrong; test equipment gives anomalous measurements; and at times the reviewer starts to doubt his or her ears when it seems impossible to get the component being reviewed to sound anywhere as good as reported by other writers. Such was the case with this review of the Celestion 3000. When Celestion's Barry Fox visited Santa Fe three days before Christmas 1989 with early samples of the speaker, we were dismayed to find that the ribbon of one of the pair was crinkled and immobile, apparently due to the extruded-aluminum magnet frame warping in transit. Fortunately, Barry had brought a spare tweeter with him, to show how it worked, so we replaced the broken one in order to do some listening.
John Atkinson  |  Dec 10, 2006  |  First Published: Dec 10, 1994  |  0 comments
The SC-I ($995/pair) is the smallest model in the "Signature Collection" to come from Dunlavy Audio Labs, the company founded by John Dunlavy after he left Duntech. The largest model in this series used to be the $4995/pair SC-IV that Robert Deutsch so enthusiastically reviewed last April, and that this month was voted Stereophile's 1994 "Product of the Year." There is now also a huge SC-VI available.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 26, 2006  |  First Published: Sep 26, 1987  |  0 comments
Some six or so years ago, the Linn Asak cartridge set new standards for imaging and soundstage reproduction. I can remember the first time I heard an Asak in a system using Quad ESL-63s—I had never experienced such depth of soundstage and solidity of imaging from any system, and that with Quad amplification! The Asak was relatively quickly overshadowed in this area, however, and in any case, soundstaging precision by itself didn't seem to be a high priority for the Linn design team, who were apparently more concerned with dynamics and a musical integration of the sound across the frequency range.