John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Jun 14, 2018  |  76 comments
One of the benefits of being a reviewer is that, of the large number of products that pass through my listening room, occasionally there are those that I really would like to see take up more permanent residence. One of these was Wilson Audio Specialties' Alexia loudspeaker, which I reviewed in December 2013. "Its clarity, its uncolored, full-range balance, its flexibility in setup and optimization, and most of all its sheer musicality, are, if not unrivaled, rare," I wrote, and concluded: "If I were to retire tomorrow, the Wilson Alexia would be the speaker I would buy to provide the musical accompaniment to that retirement." Nothing I subsequently heard disabused me of that dream, though a couple of other speakers, in particular Vivid Audio's Giya G3 and KEF's Blade Two, joined the Alexia on my bucket list.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 07, 2018  |  First Published: Apr 01, 1989  |  0 comments
The Acustik-Lab SR Bolero loudspeaker ($1580/pair) debuted at the 1988 SCES in Chicago. I must own up right from the outset that I know nothing about the Swiss SR Trade (Acustik-Lab) company. I do know, however, that Audio Advancements' Hart Huschens was getting an intensely musical sound from their little Bolero speakers, driven by the German Klimo Kent tube amplifiers, at the 1988 Summer CES. I immediately asked for a pair for review; in addition, Mr. Huschens sent along a pair of the matching Bolero Forte woofers ($920/pair).
John Atkinson  |  May 07, 2018  |  22 comments
Photo: Corrina Jones

When JD Events' Liz MiIler invited me to give the keynote speech at the 2018 AXPONA, in Chicago suburb Schaumburg, I was at first not sure what to talk about. But then I realized that not only was 2018 the 32nd anniversary of my joining Stereophile as editor and the 42nd anniversary of my joining Hi-Fi News & Record Review magazine as a lowly editorial assistant, it also marked 50 years since I bought my first audio system!

John Atkinson  |  Apr 26, 2018  |  1 comments
When I asked NAD for a sample of their Masters Series M50.2 digital music player, which I reviewed in the December 2017 issue, they also sent me a Masters Series M32 DirectDigital integrated amplifier, which had also been introduced at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Costing $3999, the M32 offers a continuous power output of >150W into 8 or 4 ohms. The M32 is the same size as the M50.2, and its smart-looking combination of matte black and gray-anodized aluminum panels make it look identical to the player, except for the black volume-control knob to the right of the front panel's four-color touchscreen, and the ¼" headphone jack at bottom left. It even has the same eight ventilation grilles inset in the black top panel.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 20, 2018  |  3 comments
Lunch? A quick donut and a Tall Café Mocha at the Renaissance Hotel's Starbucks and I was ready to hit the remaining floors on the 16th floor. "These are not your father's Ohms!" read the poster in the HHR Exotic Speakers room. Looked like 'em to me, but I was quickly enlightened.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 19, 2018  |  3 comments
I hit the ground running Sunday morning, with many rooms to visit but only six hours to do so. I started with the 16th floor suite featuring horn speakers from German company Avantgarde. Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the wall" was playing on the humongous, four-way Trio XD horn system ($150,000 with four bass horns) and the kick drum did indeed kick me in the chest. (Peak spls, measured with the Studio Six iPhone app, reached 102.3dBC, slow.) Rest of the system included Esoteric source and amplification, Transparent cabling, and an HRS racks. There weren't any colorations that could be laid at the feet of the horns, though voices were projected forward in the soundstage. An extraordinary sound and a great way to start the day.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  2 comments
I started my second day at the Chicago show in the Dynaudio room, where the Danish loudspeaker company's Special 40 stand-mounts ($3000/pair) were being driven by an Octave 80SE integrated amplifier ($10,500) with its Super Black Box external power supply ($3000) . . . this dem illustrated how matching a relatively small speaker to a smallish room can produce optimal and excellent sound quality.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 15, 2018  |  3 comments
"What are you doing here?" MartinLogan founder Gayle Sanders has been long gone from the audio industry but there he was in the corridor of the Schaumburg Renaissance hotel's 7th floor. "I love the industry and I wanted to come back and play," Gayle laughed as he introduced me to his Eikon Image1 digital active loudspeaker ($24,500/system).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 13, 2018  |  1 comments
A half-hour after the show opened (held today, tomorrow, and Sunday at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel, 1551 Thoreau Drive North, Schaumburg, IL), this was the scene in front of the seminar center, where a presentation on Room EQ Wizard was about to start. With well over 160 exhibit and listening rooms and another 80 booths, and what must be every dealer in Illinois participating, this is the biggest consumer audio show to be held in the US in quite a while.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 29, 2018  |  0 comments
I have long been aware of English audio company Prism Sound, both from my use at the turn of the century of their excellent PCI card–based DScope2 measurement system (footnote 1), and from some of my friends' enthusiasm for Prism's SADiE digital audio workstation. Prism Sound was founded in 1987 by two DSP engineers, Graham Boswell and Ian Dennis, who had first met when working at mixing-console manufacturer Rupert Neve, in Cambridge, England. From the beginning, Prism Sound operated exclusively in the world of professional audio, but a year or so ago I began seeing their first domestic audio product, the Callia, at audio shows.

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