John Atkinson

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John Atkinson  |  Mar 05, 2018  |  46 comments
In the first two parts of our video coverage of Jana Dagdagan's and my visit to PS Audio in Boulder, Colorado, we toured the factory and I interviewed the company's founder Paul McGowan. In this final video, I listen to three of my own recordings played on the legendary IRS V loudspeaker system, driven by PS Audio's BHK 300 monoblocks. I recorded the sound with Sennheiser's "Ambeo" binaural system, which mounts microphones on the outer surfaces of a pair of earbuds, and if you listen along on headphones, you will hear what I heard!
John Atkinson  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  10 comments
Stereophile writers have reviewed three versions of Sonus Faber's stand-mounted, two-way loudspeaker, the Guarneri: Martin Colloms on the original Guarneri Homage, in 1994; Michael Fremer on the Memento edition, in 2007; and Art Dudley on the Evolution, in 2012. The Guarneri has always been an expensive speaker—$9400/pair with matching stands in 1995, $15,000 with stands in 2007, $20,000/pair plus $2000 for the stands in 2012—but its prices have been related to its build quality and appearance, both of which have always been superb. Now we have the Guarneri Tradition, for $15,900/pair, including stands.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 28, 2018  |  13 comments
Earlier this week, we posted a video blog with PS Audio's founder and CEO Paul McGowan giving Jana Dagdagan and me a post-CES tour around the Boulder, Colorado company's factory. Following the tour, I sat down with Paul in Music Room One and in a wide-ranging conversation, we talked about amplifiers and loudspeakers, DACs and audio systems, and the state of high-end audio.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 25, 2018  |  12 comments
Immediately following the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, our resident videographer Jana Dagdagan and I visited PS Audio in Boulder Colorado. The company's founder, Paul McGowan, gave up his Saturday to give us a tour of the factory.
John Atkinson  |  Feb 20, 2018  |  5 comments
I got an e-mail last summer from my colleague Tyll Hertsens, editor of our InnerFidelity website. "Recently reviewed and really liked the new MrSpeakers Æon," he wrote. "They're a little rough-sounding as sealed headphones tend to be, but the tonal balance is superb. I got three in for review to make sure they're consistent. After measurements I asked [MrSpeakers'] Dan Clark if I could forward them to you because I like them so much and thought you should hear them. . . . I really think you may enjoy them."
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2018  |  4 comments
MBL's Corona C15 monoblock has been one of my amplification references since I reviewed it in 2014, and as I've been reviewing DACs the past year or so, it was high time I spent time with one of the German company's digital products.

"Black shiny products are tough to photograph at shows, so trust me when I say the new N31 is dripping with gorgeousness not reflected in this photo," wrote Jon Iverson in his report from the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. And when I unpacked my review sample of the Noble Line N31 ($15,400), I was indeed taken with its looks.

John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2018  |  3 comments
When Jason Victor Serinus visited the Bluebird Audio room on the Venetian's 35th floor, he mentioned that Chord was demonstrating its Blu Mk.2 CD transport ($11,788) along with the Dave DAC that I reviewed and was impressed by last June. I chatted with Chord's digital guru Robert Watts (above in photo) about the new transport and he mentioned that it incorporated his latest WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) digital filter with a million taps! (The more taps there are, the closer a DAC can reproduce the timing information in the reconstructed analog signal—see my DAVE review for why Robert feels why this should be so.) I was puzzled, as a digital reconstruction filter belongs in a DAC, not a transport.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 16, 2018  |  1 comments
I was working on our video coverage of the 2018 CES with our resident videographer Jana Dagdagan, and as video is such a time sink, I wasn't able to visit as many rooms as I usually do. But one room I managed to visit and that stood out when it came to sound quality was Constellation's.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 13, 2018  |  72 comments
If there is one thing that raises the hackles of engineers, it is audiophiles' insistence that power cords affect sound quality. But at CES, AudioQuest's Garth Powell (right in photo, with AQ's Alex Brinkmann) was showing how changing just one cable in a system, the one connecting a Simaudio Moon CD player to a Niagara 700 power conditioner, could make or break the system's sound quality. Playing a track from Muddy Waters' Folk Singer, with Moon amplification and Magico S1 Mk.2 speakers, and without changing the volume, Garth compared AudioQuest's new Thunder cable ($700) with AC cables from other companies priced up to $18,000, culminating with the AudioQuest Dragon ($4000).
John Atkinson  |  Jan 13, 2018  |  1 comments
Some manufacturers weren't exhibiting at CES but did have suites elsewhere in the Venetian hotel. One such was Audio Research, who was showing the first amplifier to be designed following the passing of the company's long-time Senior Design Engineer, Ward Fiebiger, who died of a heart attack last March. The Ref160M monoblock offers around 150W into 8 ohms and will cost in the region of $30,000/pair.