Podcast 84: John Atkinson

Fresh from his presentation of the Richard Heyser Memorial Lecture at the 131st AES Convention, Stereophile editor John Atkinson talks about some of the points he made in that address, including the fundamental differences between objective measurements and subjective listening, mental maps and the nature of reality, blind testing, how some types of audio products that measure poorly are often praised by listeners, answers to chat-room questions, and more.

Run Time: 1:02:00

Click here to listen to this podcast.

Formally trained in science—his bachelor's degree was in physics and chemistry and his postgraduate qualification in the teaching of science, both from England's University of London—John Atkinson's first career was in scientific research, where he worked in labs developing LEDs and the extraction of minerals from their ores. However, his love of music led to work as a professional musician for five years in the 1970s, playing bass guitar for touring bands, in night clubs and concert halls, and on a large number of sessions for radio, TV, and record companies. The latter fueled his passion for working on the other side of the recording studio's control-room window, and since 1984, he has engineered and produced more than 30 CDs and LPs. Since 1989, most of these have been released on the Stereophile label, associated with Stereophile magazine, for which Atkinson has been the editor-in-chief since 1986. Stereophile is now the largest-circulation English-language magazine devoted to domestic audio reproduction.

Before crossing the Atlantic to become Stereophile's editor, Atkinson was editor-in-chief of the UK's Hi-Fi News & Record Review magazine, which he had joined in 1976 as an editorial assistant. At Stereophile, as well as growing the magazine's circulation from around 20,000 to 80,000 in 10 years and overseeing the magazine's evolution into a large-format monthly, Atkinson developed a test and measurement program to accompany the magazine's component reviews. In 1997, Atkinson gave a tutorial paper to the Audio Engineering Society on measuring loudspeakers—as of April 2010, he has measured more than 750 loudspeaker models using a consistent protocol.

Atkinson lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, an associate member of the Institute for Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and a voting member of NARAS (Producers and Engineers Wing), the parent organization of the Grammys.

Here's the video of this podcast:

deckeda's picture

So true.

Jarod's picture

So interesting to listen to John Atkinson talk about listening to speakers. The magic about speakers really is how subjective the whole listening experience can be! Truly fascinating.

Andy Goloskof's picture

A veritable Philosopher of all thing Audio.
Long may he prosper!