John Atkinson

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.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2019  |  4 comments
The 3rd-floor room shared by Schiit and Salk Signature Sound was so crowded the first two times I stopped by that I couldn't listen, But the third time, Béla Fleck's classic "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo" was playing, I snagged a second-row seat and liked what I heard. A big, clean sound from an affordable system. Speakers were Salk's Song3 BeATs ($4495/pair, $4795/pair in custom finishes like those at the show); source was either a Salk Streamplayer Gen III ($1695) feeding Schiit's Yggdrasil DAC ($2395) or an SOL turntable (estimated price $799); phono preamp a Schiit Mani ($129); preamplifier a Schiit Freya ($699); and amplifier a Schiit Aegir ($799).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2019  |  5 comments
"Handcrafted In Germany" it proudly says above AVM's new Rotation R5.3 Cellini Edition belt-drive turntable, with its acrylic Illumine platter softly glowing blue. With its 10" AVM tonearm, the R 2.3 will cost in the region of $8900 and, fitted with an Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge, did justice to Diana Krall singing "Indeed I Do." (For what it's worth, while many showgoers dismiss Krall as an over-exposed pop singer—I'm looking at you, Jason Victor Serinus— I respect both her musicianship and her piano playing.)

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