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  1. #1
    Ajani
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    Interview with John Atkinson

    So I just listened to an interview with John Atkinson (the big boss at Stereophile) on the Ultimate AV blogs:

    http://www.ultimateavmag.com/podcasts/

    Podcast # 17

    And I have to admit that I was impressed... They addressed so many contentious audiophile issues:

    live vs. reproduced music,
    2-channel vs. multichannel music,
    vinyl vs. CDs,
    tubes vs. solid-state electronics,
    exotic audio cables,
    high resolution music (music servers,SACD)
    Why the iPod is the best thing to happen to music!

    I hope they produce a transcript of the interview as I consider it a must read for audiophiles...

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Why the iPod is the best thing to happen to music!

    Hahahaha...ya.

  3. #3
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    You want an interesting audiophile with NO affiliations? http://www.high-endaudio.com/

  4. #4
    Ajani
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    You might be very suprised at what JA says in the podcast...

  5. #5
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Hahahaha...ya.
    LOL... he did have a very good point about the iPod though....

  6. #6
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    You want an interesting audiophile with NO affiliations? http://www.high-endaudio.com/
    Problem is that I can't take Arthur seriously as he makes so many accusations with absolutely no evidence to back them up... and not having "affiliations" doesn't automatically make you credible.... Arthur's site competes for the attention of potential readers of all the mags he criticises... So it's in his best interest to claim that all of the major mags are dishonest, etc....

  7. #7
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Problem is that I can't take Arthur seriously as he makes so many accusations with absolutely no evidence to back them up... and not having "affiliations" doesn't automatically make you credible.... Arthur's site competes for the attention of potential readers of all the mags he criticises... So it's in his best interest to claim that all of the major mags are dishonest, etc....
    Hey, if that's how you feel. His credibility comes through his experience. His opinions regarding magazines I take with a grain of salt. He was an integral part of the Toronto scene for years, and is certainly entitled to an opinion.

    Perhaps disregard those negatives and look at things like his component list, or general opinions regarding high fidelity.

    The problem with the magazine guys is they are generally shy to be too negative against any particular brand. Who knows where next months meal money might come from. not from a company that he has smeared that's for sure.

  8. #8
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Hey, if that's how you feel. His credibility comes through his experience. His opinions regarding magazines I take with a grain of salt. He was an integral part of the Toronto scene for years, and is certainly entitled to an opinion.

    Perhaps disregard those negatives and look at things like his component list, or general opinions regarding high fidelity.

    The problem with the magazine guys is they are generally shy to be too negative against any particular brand. Who knows where next months meal money might come from. not from a company that he has smeared that's for sure.
    I take all opinions on audio (other than my own ) with a grain of salt... Even assuming all reviewers are honest (let's just pretend for a second) then we'd still see just as much disagreement about which products are the best value for money, etc...

    Arthur has some interesting points on his site, but it's very hard for me to trust the opinion of someone so intent on discrediting other audio mags...

    As for the issue of advertisers; I probably don't see it as a major hindrance to writing honest reviews, because of the years I spent as an Auditor... I know the difference between how the public perceives all auditors/accountants as being pawns of the companies they audit and reality... Since audit revenue is very similar to advertising revenue in HiFi mags, I can easily see how you can provide honest service despite the money issue...

  9. #9
    Ajani
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    Anyway, why I found the article interesting is that JA addressed so many issues and didn't necessarily give the answers people think he would:

    He gave a proper scientific explanation of why Vinyl sounds better than CD... He also explained why High Resolution formats (SACD and Downloads) are better than Vinyl... He addressed why SS used to sound so nasty compared to Tubes, and how talented designers can now make SS that sounds like Tubes and Tubes that sound like SS (so generalizations about which is better are no longer applicable)... He even scientifically addressed why "some" cables sound different and made reference to DBTs he was involved in...

    It was a fascinating interview IMO...
    Last edited by Ajani; 04-22-2010 at 01:31 PM.

  10. #10
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link Ajani. Very interesting listen. I've been around this field for a long time. I don't automatically discount magazines or the reviewers. Most of the reviewers are not full time reviewers. Only a very few like Mike Fremer do nothing but review gear. It might seem that they never write bad reviews. I believe that's because they choose not to review gear they don't like. I can go along with that because there is some gear I simply don't like. For example I don't believe I could give a fair review to any horn speakers.
    Arthur Salvatore says a lot of things I agree with. However, he seems to have real animosity where the magazines are concerned. I read and research as much as I can and try to take everything with a grain of salt including the salt. Finding out for yourself after listening to everyone else is IMO the best way.
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  11. #11
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    You want an interesting audiophile with NO affiliations?
    Yes, I would but it would not be Salvatore.

    Charles Hansen's observations.

    rw

  12. #12
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by E-Stat
    Yes, I would but it would not be Salvatore.

    Charles Hansen's observations.

    rw
    Thanks for the link! That's why you should take all opinions with a grain of salt... Accussing everyone else of being corrupt/dishonest does not mean that you are honest... And many times some of the worst crooks are the ones who criticize everyone else...

  13. #13
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    Thanks for the link Ajani. Very interesting listen. I've been around this field for a long time. I don't automatically discount magazines or the reviewers. Most of the reviewers are not full time reviewers. Only a very few like Mike Fremer do nothing but review gear. It might seem that they never write bad reviews. I believe that's because they choose not to review gear they don't like. I can go along with that because there is some gear I simply don't like. For example I don't believe I could give a fair review to any horn speakers.
    Well yes, that is a point they bring up quite often... Why would a reviewer choose to spend months auditioning a product they don't like? So they usually opt for products that interest them.... Only mags like the UK ones, where they spend minimal time with gear before writing a review, are going to review gear they don't like...

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeE SP9
    Arthur Salvatore says a lot of things I agree with. However, he seems to have real animosity where the magazines are concerned. I read and research as much as I can and try to take everything with a grain of salt including the salt. Finding out for yourself after listening to everyone else is IMO the best way.
    Yep, A.S. has some interesting points, but I trust him even less than I trust the major mags....

  14. #14
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    Thanks for the link! That's why you should take all opinions with a grain of salt... Accussing everyone else of being corrupt/dishonest does not mean that you are honest... And many times some of the worst crooks are the ones who criticize everyone else...
    Crook? Did you read the thread? I think gross misconduct would be the worst charge here, if you believe all that's being said. Certainly breeching his own code of ethics would be alot of egg in the face, to say the least. Alot of mudslinging and accusations however...

    Who wrote this?....

    Problem is that I can't take Arthur seriously as he makes so many accusations with absolutely no evidence to back them up...
    I made no mention of reviews or reviewers. What I was trying to get at with Atkinson is that his name is synonymous with Stereophile. With so much at stake, he must surely put the business interests ahead of his own opinions.

    Salvatore hasn't had any meaningful connection to the industry in a while, at least that I'm aware of. His store is long gone. The magazine hatred is more or less cornered to one area of his site. I think most arrive there for info, not flag waving.

    Personally, I remember his store as a boy. My dad would take me there occasionally. It was the "really boring store with nothing to touch".

  15. #15
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Crook? Did you read the thread? I think gross misconduct would be the worst charge here, if you believe all that's being said. Certainly breeching his own code of ethics would be alot of egg in the face, to say the least. Alot of mudslinging and accusations however...

    Who wrote this?....



    I made no mention of reviews or reviewers. What I was trying to get at with Atkinson is that his name is synonymous with Stereophile. With so much at stake, he must surely put the business interests ahead of his own opinions.

    Salvatore hasn't had any meaningful connection to the industry in a while, at least that I'm aware of. His store is long gone. The magazine hatred is more or less cornered to one area of his site. I think most arrive there for info, not flag waving.

    Personally, I remember his store as a boy. My dad would take me there occasionally. It was the "really boring store with nothing to touch".
    I didn't call him a crook... I just said sometimes the worst crooks are the ones who criticize everyone else (it maybe extreme wording but it is meant to illustrate a point about not just trusting someone)... And the allegations are pretty deep in that thread.... assuming they are true (which of course they may not be).... But the issue still remains that I have a hard time trusting Salvatore.... His criticisms of the major mags seem more like he has a chip on his shoulder or personal vendetta against them... Also, I don't accept that his other contributing reviewers should be "anonymous" manufacturers and dealers... How do I know when one of them writes a glowing review for their own product? Or criticises a competitor's product in a review? (both of which are accusations in the link that stat provided). Should I just trust that he, Arthur Salvatore (as he constantly reminds us on his site) is maintaining the strictest standards of ethics and integrity?
    Last edited by Ajani; 04-24-2010 at 07:02 AM.

  16. #16
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Right. It comes down to just that, trust.

    There is more to Salvatore than just angry ramblings about the industry. He has a ton of experience piecing systems together, and as a result has alot to offer. His reference list is great, tainted or not. Obviously I have a soft spot for him because he pushes analog, and has tried just about every outstanding combo of arm and table out there.

  17. #17
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Right. It comes down to just that, trust.

    There is more to Salvatore than just angry ramblings about the industry. He has a ton of experience piecing systems together, and as a result has alot to offer. His reference list is great, tainted or not. Obviously I have a soft spot for him because he pushes analog, and has tried just about every outstanding combo of arm and table out there.
    Perfectly understandable and if I was using analog, then I'd likely find some useful gear to audition from Salvatore's site... He no doubt has a wealth of experience to share with others...

    John Atkinson's positions are clearly more in line with my own views on HiFi... He believes in listening, but doesn't discount the added value of measurements and understanding why something sounds better or different... He sees High Resolution Downloads as the future of HiFi... Doesn't hate the iPod - as it has changed the industry (in a positive way - High Res Music Servers are a direct result of the popularity of the iPod).... He's not so nostalgic about certain products/tech that he won't listen to anything else... He constantly acknowledges that there are very good sounding products available at just about any budget... So HiFi is not limited to only persons who can afford $15K setups as many audiophiles would claim...

  18. #18
    Ajani
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    Anyway to get this thread back on topic: I know an hour long interview seems way too long to listen to, but it is truly an insightful piece as it covers so much ground... And even if you don't agree with everything JA says, you should find some interesting points that make you think....

  19. #19
    Charm Thai™
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    I read stereophile just to see whats new in the audio world. I take the reviews and chuck them out the window because they are worthless aside from the technical measurements. Once in a blue moon they will actually print a unfavorable review but then immediately recant their statements once the manufacturer gets pissy.

  20. #20
    Ajani
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    Once again the purpose of this thread is to discuss an interview John Atkinson did... Not to discuss the reasons (real or imagined) why various persons don't read Stereophile... If you don't read Stereophile then feel free to start a thread about how much you dislike the mag...

    For other persons, I suggest listening to the interview in my initial post and giving your thoughts on the topics discussed...

  21. #21
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    the ones i dont trust

    are the ones who get tied up in knots and spout vomit about other individuals. that charlie hansen remains calm and says "sue me" tells me he sits confidently and respectably on the right side of the arguement.

    as soon as i saw how salvatore attacks others, i stopped reading his wordage in any form. i can learn from far better teachers than one who must insult others. he undermines himself.
    ...regards...tr

  22. #22
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    No thoughts on the patriot saint of audio, John Atkinson? Tommy?

  23. #23
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Interesting comments from JA, some I agree with, some I absolutely do not.

    His comments on live versus reproduced sound is spot on.

    His comments on vinyl versus digital were also spot on, and he agreed with my experience with using higher bit and sample rates versus vinyl.

    His surround versus two channel comments were right and wrong at the same time. While surround sound will not be a perfect capture of the live event, it is a lot closer than two channel is. Spatially it is more accurate than two channel, and it is more enveloping than two channel, and immersion is one of the parameters that fool our ears into thinking we are there. A live event is not a front loaded event unless you are listening out doors. In the concert hall it is a fully enveloping experience which surround seeks to mimic. I think Floyd Toole's comments are far more accurate on this subject.
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  24. #24
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Interesting comments from JA, some I agree with, some I absolutely do not.

    His comments on live versus reproduced sound is spot on.

    His comments on vinyl versus digital were also spot on, and he agreed with my experience with using higher bit and sample rates versus vinyl.

    His surround versus two channel comments were right and wrong at the same time. While surround sound will not be a perfect capture of the live event, it is a lot closer than two channel is. Spatially it is more accurate than two channel, and it is more enveloping than two channel, and immersion is one of the parameters that fool our ears into thinking we are there. A live event is not a front loaded event unless you are listening out doors. In the concert hall it is a fully enveloping experience which surround seeks to mimic. I think Floyd Toole's comments are far more accurate on this subject.
    lol... I imagined you would disagree with his views on Multi-channel... Though if I interpreted his point correctly: it was not really that he thought 2 channel was better, but more that MC was not being used in more 'natural' ways apart from Classical genres... He talked about recording engineers putting a drum mix in a rear channel for Rock, etc... Which I suspect would just sound strange... So depending on how the recording was done, MC should be able to provide an even more realistic experience that 2channel.... Though of course he also got into the age old debate of expense: 2 higher quality speakers VS 5.1/7.1 lower quality speakers for the same price...

    It was a very interesting discussion though...

  25. #25
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    whereas i havent finished listening to JA's podcast

    i find him to be quite honest and given his tempered responses to the idiots that keep shouting :CONSPIRACY, i find him to be very respectable. if you read the AA critics asylum, you'll see what i mean.

    he has the unique position of being both a musician and equipment reviewer. from that perspective, i respect his stance on sound. he has been in journalism for quite a while as well. that all adds up to equal quality.

    as for surround, i depend on ambience extraction via Dynaquad. i will soon have enough channels of amplification for full sourround and i have an AVP which i wll connect the sacd player (sony) in discrete and maybe the dvda using the internal distribution (not enough sets of discrte inputs).

    i have heard some ridiculous surround (eagles hell freezes over in dts) that oversteps sensibility like quadraphonic did with some of the SQ remixes from columbia. i prefer to hear the music as the audience does (as oposed to the stage mixes from AIX).
    ...regards...tr

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