John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  9 comments
Musical Fidelity/Era Design distributor SignalPath's David Solomon is also interested in the desktop and enthusiastically demmed the new Peachtree Decco for me. The $700 tubed D/A processor/60Wpc integrated amplifier has a rear-panel bay that will accommodate the popular Sonos ZP80 WiFi media player and will take either digital or analog signals to its own, higher-quality DAC circuitry and output stage. It also has a USB input. The revolution is here.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  4 comments
Audioengine is making a name for itself with its extremely affordable powered speakers. But rather than photograph the speakers being demmed at RMAF, I concentrated on the Apple iBook running iTunes being used as the source. "What's that?" I asked, pointing to the dongle.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  5 comments
To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, it is the "unknown unknowns" in audio that scare the pants off me at times. Synergistic's Ted Denney pulled me into his room. "Sit down. Listen to this."
John Atkinson  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  1 comments
I went into the Esoteric room to take a listen to the digital components that build on the performance of the excellent SA-60 universal player that graced our October cover. But my attention was drawn to a pair of elegant loudspeakers sporting the Esoteric name. The Mg20 floorstander ($8410/pair) and bookshelf Mg10 ($5500/pair plus stands) feature tweeters and woofers fabricated from the very light metal magnesium, which is said to have an optimal combination of stiffness and self-damping. It has not been previously used in speakers (other than in alloys) because it degrades with exposure to the air. However, Esoteric collaborated with a British company to develop an effective protective coating.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  0 comments
Well, not really. But the Thiel CS3.7 speakers set-up in the Denver Audio Designs room could be driven either by an all-Bryston system—the new BCD-1 CD player ($2395), BP26 preamp, and a pair 7B-SST monoblocks—or an all-Simaudio Moon system: SuperNova CD player P7 preamp, and W7 power amp. I listened to "Comfortably Numb" from Pink Floyd's The Wall with both set-ups and the differences were both audible and surprising. The Moon system favored David Gilmour's paradigmatic guitar solo; the Bryston the contribution of David Mason's drums and Roger Waters' bass. I could have lived with either.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 14, 2007  |  2 comments
Many years ago, in a conversation I was having with Peter Walker of Quad, I asked him if there was a speaker he'd wished he'd designed. "PJ" thought for a moment, then said he admired the Beveridge electrostatic, where a flat panel fires into a waveguide, thus allowing the panel to overcome its Achilles' Heel: the very limited horizontal dispersion resulting from its width.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 13, 2007  |  0 comments
After a hard day's morning presenting my hi-rez digital audio dems, I wandered into the Marriott's Atrium to sip on a Starbucks Grande Cafe Mocha. There I enjoyed some fine singing and guitar picking from Dan Weldon on the Zu Audio stand. The Utah cable'n'speaker company, whose modification of the classic Denon DL103D cartridge will be reviewed in the December issue of Stereophile, was presenting live music throughout the Show, with their high-sensitivity speakers used as the PA. Nice one, guys.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 13, 2007  |  0 comments
Undoubtedly contributing to the excellent sound I heard from the Vivid speakers in the previous story was this neat 30Wpc class-A integrated amplifier, the L-590A II ($9000) from legendary Japanese brand Luxman, shown here sitting on the top of the stack of Weiss gear. On A Higher Note is now distributing Luxman in the US.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 13, 2007  |  0 comments
We first encountered the South African Vivid speaker, designed by B&W alum Laurence Dickie, at a CES a couple of years ago and was impressed with their clarity, dynamic range capability, and freedom from coloration and distortion. For whatever reason, the brand failed to get a foothold in the US, but it was announced at RMAF that Vivid was now being distributed by On a Higher Note. I sat down in the sweet spot and after listening to a rather nice recording of Aaron Neville singing "Save the Last Dance for Me," Philip O'Hanlon put on a DVD-A he had burned on his PC using the $49 Cirlinca program and was playing back on a Weiss Jason transport and Medea DAC, which On A Higher Note is also now distributing. Now there was a familiar sound—it was the 24/88.2 master of my recording of the slow movement from the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, which I had completely forgotten sending Philip a few years back.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 13, 2007  |  2 comments
I always make a point of seeking out a Wilson dem at Shows, and in the RMAF room run by Denver dealer Audio Unlimited, I encountered not one but two systems featuring Wilson speakers. The smaller system offered WATT/Puppy 8s driven by Balanced Audio Technology's VK53 CD player and $6000 VK55SE integrated amplifier—compared to its predecessor, this now uses 6BH30 input and driver tubes, sitting on tubed current sources—and sounded sweet indeed. But the real reason to visit this room was to hear the mighty MAXX2s driven by BAT's new Rex three-chassis ultimate preamp, VK600SE solid-state monoblocks and the new Paganini three-box SACD player—transport, clock, DAC—from English company dCS. BAT's Geoff Poor put on Frank Sinatra's Nelson Riddle-arranged "What's New," which Geoff feels is the singer's finest performance. Wow! Mr. Sinatra was there in the room with us.