John Atkinson

John Atkinson  |  Nov 21, 2019  |  13 comments
Unlike the world of recorded music, where streaming has decimated sales of physical products, book publishing is seeing the reverse trend: sales of eBooks are declining while those of both hardback and paperback books are recovering. I have been a book junkie all my life—the two long walls of my listening room are lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and I have many boxes of books in storage—but these days almost all my book reading is with the Kindle app on my iPad mini.
John Atkinson  |  Nov 14, 2019  |  First Published: Dec 01, 1994  |  23 comments
No magazine can help but concentrate on the present, and tend to downplay what happened in the irretrievable past as being less important than the new and the exciting. I instituted Stereophile's annual "Products of the Year" feature in 1992, therefore, to give recognition to those components that had proved capable of giving pleasure beyond the formal review period.

This is the third year we have given awards. There are six individual categories: "Loudspeakers" (including subwoofers); "Amplification Components" (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, etc.); "Digital Sources" (CD players, transports, D/A processors); "Analog Sources" (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.); "Home Theater Components" (other than video, which we don't cover); and "Accessories" (everything else).

John Atkinson  |  Oct 25, 2019  |  91 comments
"Stirring the stew" is what I've heard it called when a company introduces a new version of a product every three or four years. When a new product is launched, sales generally rise rapidly to a maximum and then slowly decline. If the stew is stirred every few years, plotting the product's sales volume against time results in a sawtooth wave, without sales ever dropping close to zero.
John Atkinson  |  Oct 08, 2019  |  18 comments
1019psbbok.promo99% True: Almost a National Bestseller, by Paul McGowan. Lioncrest Publishing, 2019. 364pp. $25.00, hard cover; $15.99, paperback; $9.99, Kindle e-book.

To many audiophiles, high-end audio manufacturers must seem like monolithic entities, enduring for what seems like forever, like cliffs beside a familiar path. But as Paul McGowan explains in this unputdownable autobiography (footnote 1), behind the facade of stability things can be in financial turmoil, with success equally as risky as failure.

John Atkinson  |  Sep 27, 2019  |  15 comments
It is said that while any competent engineer can design a superb loudspeaker if allowed an unlimited bill of materials, the true test is being able to produce a great-sounding, budget-priced speaker out of parts that cost a mere handful of dollars. With PSB's Alpha series of bookshelf speakers, Canadian engineer Paul Barton has illustrated this truism many times over the years.
John Atkinson  |  Aug 22, 2019  |  3 comments
DALI's loudspeaker factory in Nørager, Denmark. (Photo: DALI.)

Seen from the air, Denmark is a vista of farms and wind turbines. But once your plane touches down, it is a land of loudspeakers. Perhaps this is because audio has a long history in Denmark—it was a Dane, Valdemar Poulsen, who developed a magnetic wire recorder in 1898—but there are more loudspeaker manufacturers per person than any other country. According to Wikipedia, Denmark is home to 5.75 million people, compared with New York's five boroughs, which have a population of 8.67 million However, as well as drive-unit manufacturers Audio Technology, Peerless, Vifa (which merged with Peerless to form Danish Sound Technology), and ScanSpeak, there are Bang & Olufsen, DALI, Dynaudio, Gamut, Gryphon, Jamo, Lyngdorf Audio, Peak-Consult, and Raidho all making loudspeakers. Lots of loudpeakers.

John Atkinson  |  Aug 22, 2019  |  54 comments
PS Audio's Paul McGowan has been sending out a daily newsletter by email since 2011. In his May 29, 2019 epistle he asked, "What would our world of high-end audio look like if there were only active wireless loudspeakers? If even the half-a-million-dollar mega-beasts were internally amplified and connected via wireless and controlled from an iPad? No more boxes. No more wires and cables. Only speakers."
John Atkinson  |  Aug 11, 2019  |  20 comments
I was saddened to learn that Jack Renner, renowned recording engineer and cofounder with producer Robert Woods of Telarc Records, died on June 19, 2019, age 84, at his home in Rhode Island. Mr. Renner is survived by his wife, Barbara, three children, and six grandchildren.
John Atkinson  |  Jul 30, 2019  |  19 comments
Apple may not have been the first to market with a portable digital audio player, but its original iPod defined the genre: a device small enough to fit into a shirt pocket. When companies like Acoustic Research, Astell&Kern, Fiio, HiFiMan, and Questyle introduced portable players that could play high-resolution files, they echoed the iPod's form factor. The exception was the Toblerone-shaped PonoPlayer, but even that was small. The subject of this review is another exception: The DMP-Z1, from Sony's Signature Series, is comparatively enormous—almost the size and weight of a regular preamplifier. At $8500, it's also considerably more expensive than other players.
John Atkinson  |  May 17, 2019  |  7 comments
I have reviewed several network-connected music servers in recent years, from Antipodes, Aurender, and NAD. All performed well but are relatively expensive, and their associated player apps didn't equal Roon's user friendliness in terms of interface, organization of the library, and inclusion and updating of metadata. So when Roon Labs introduced their own server, the Nucleus+, I first reviewed and then purchased it, along with a lifetime subscription to Roon. But at $2498 without an internal drive for storing music files, the Nucleus+ is still relatively expensive, and even Roon's less-powerful Nucleus costs $1398. I was still on the lookout for a server that would be more accessible to our budget-minded readers.

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