John Atkinson

John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  5 comments
I sat down in the Playback Designs room to listen to a system featuring Playback's MPS-8 SACD player/DAC ($25,000 plus $2400 for the Stream_X option) and Stream-IF streaming interface ($3300), both from the company's Dream series, with an Playback IPS-3 integrated amplifier ($14,000), these all sitting on an English Lateral Systems 4-shelf rack ($4100), driving Verity Parsifal Anniversary loudspeakers ($25,000/pair) and wired with Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects and Fascination AC cord and speaker cables. Playing was the DSD256 file of "Let There Be Love," copied from an analog Ampex 468 ¼" tape running at 30ips that had been recorded in parallel with Lyn Stanley's new direct-to disc album London With a Twist: Live at Bernie's.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  3 comments
"Why is there a box of parts next to each of the Evolution loudspeakers?" I jokingly asked Blue Light Audio's Jonathan Tinn. He explained that those were the external crossovers for the three-way Maestoso loudspeakers ($18,900/pair) with their lids off. The speakers were being driven by the darTZeel NHB-108 Model Two power amplifier ($44,000), which was making its North American debut at AXPONA, and preamp was that Mikey Fremer favorite, the darTZeel NHB-18NS Mk.II ($44,000 with phono stage).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  3 comments
"Good grief! They are using Quads!" I used to use Quad ESL-57s in the mid 1980s before I moved to the US and in some ways, no other speaker has come close to the sonic transparency offered by these idiosyncratic-looking electrostatic speakers. But to see and hear an original pair dating from 1958 in the room shared by Michigan dealer/manufacturer Nokturne Audio and Lejonklou HiFi from Sweden was a highlight of the 2019 AXPONA.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  2 comments
Manley Labs' firebrand CEO EveAnna Manley always seems to enjoy audio shows and AXPONA was no exception, where she was showing off the Absolute Tube headphone amplifier ($4500) in the Ear Gear Expo.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  1 comments
I was impressed by the new Monitor Audio Gold 300 speakers when I auditioned them at the recent Montreal Audio fest. At AXPONA, Chicago retailer Saturday Audio Exchange was showing off the smaller Gold 200 tower ($5000/pair) and Gold 100 bookshelf ($2100/pair) driven by a Roksan Blak integrated amplifier ($4499) and Black CD player ($3999) and hooked up with AudioQuest cables. Like the 300, the smaller speakers feature midrange units and woofers that use Monitor Audio's RDT II (Rigid Diaphragm Technology) sandwich diaphragms, with a "Micro Pleated Diaphragm" tweeter.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  1 comments
The impressive-sounding room from dealer Audio Video Interiors featured the Anthem STR integrated amplifier ($4499) that Tom Norton reviewed for Stereophile in July 2018. Speakers were the Paradigm Persona 3Fs ($10,000/pair), a smaller sibling to the similar-looking Persona 5F ($17,000/pair) that Kal Rubinson reviewed in October 2018.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  0 comments
The final MoFi Distribution room I visited at the show featured the version of the classic BBC LS3/5A minimonitor made by Falcon Acoustics that I reported on in our report from the 2018 RMAF. This is said to be the only version currently manufactured that is truly identical to the original and was very favorably reviewed by Herb Reichert in October 2017.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 16, 2019  |  25 comments
Ken Micallef was impressed by this British company's CDA2 Mk.2 CD player/DAC ($4249) when he reviewed it in the January issue, and ATC were using it as the souce in their room at AXPONA. But pride of place went to their SCM50 tower speakers ($22,000/pair, far right in my photo) and the similar-looking SCM50SE powered towers ($60,000/pair, near right).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2019  |  7 comments
. . . proclaimed posters everywhere on the Renaissance Convention Center's ground floor. It turned out that the show had run out of exhibit rooms, so a purpose-built listening room had been built for Chicago dealer Kyomi Audio at the back of the big hall that housed the LP fair, the Master Class space, and the Ear Gear exhibits. Inside—forgive the grainy photo; it was quite dark inside this room—were a pair of Raidho TD1.2 stand-mounted speakers ($27,000/pair) connected with Gamut Reference cables to a pair of Jadis NEC 845 push-pull monoblocks ($29,990, the first pair in North America), a Jadis JPS2 preamp ($15,500), and a Jadis JPS3 phono preamplifier ($14,900).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2019  |  0 comments
I had forgotten how dynamic Avantgarde's Uno XD speakers ($32,000/pair) could sound, coupled with a fine delicacy that was in evidence on an SACD track by Jenn Chapin (daughter of Harry Chapin), where Ms. Chapin was palpably placed in the center of the stage, with a double bass on the right and a baritone saxophone on the left. Electronics were all from Esoteric: the new Grandioso P1X SACD transport ($50,000) feeding DSD data to two of Esoteric's new Grandioso mono DACs ($50,000/pair), these all clocked from an Esoteric Grandioso Rubidium Master Clock ($26,000). The transport uses a new mechanism and the D/A processor a fully discrete DAC topology with 64-bit processing.

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