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DavidL 6th December 2012 05:42 PM

John Atkinson's Opinion on DIY
Looks like all of us hobbyists and DIY builders can't call ourselves engineers

DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 loudspeaker |

Scroll down to "Admissions"

Speedskater 6th December 2012 06:30 PM

Where are the "Admissions" ?

DavidL 6th December 2012 07:00 PM

It's the title of what Mr Atkinson posted under

DF96 6th December 2012 07:01 PM

See the discussion forum at the bottom of the page. Its on the second page of the discussion (not the second page of the article). JA seems to say that unless you have sold something in the marketplace you cannot call yourself an engineer, and so perhaps should not criticise those who are (in his opinion) engineers.

He is confusing engineer vs. hobbyist with professional vs. amateur. An amateur is someone who does something because he loves doing it. A professional gets paid to do it, and may be required by his peers or statute law to adhere to some standard of ethics. An engineer is someone who applies science to solve real-life problems. A hobbyist is someone who does something in his spare time, so is almost synonymous with amateur.

Someone who sells lots of poorly designed speakers is a professional, not an engineer.

Sfwg 6th December 2012 07:25 PM


Originally Posted by Speedskater (
Where are the "Admissions" ?

Ignore the main article and read the comments. "Admissions" is the title of one of the comments.

Pallas 6th December 2012 10:55 PM

JA is, simply speaking, right. Though I haven't read most of the comments, from the 5-7 seconds I did spend reading them, JA's comment also was entirely out of the scope of the comments presented to anyone capable understanding written text. (A small minority of English readers, native or otherwise, sadly.)

Using out-of-scope diversions to "win" a debate is one of the classic techniques of propagandists and hacks, of course. Certainly, one must view JA as some combination of both propagandist and hack, even though he also provides a useful service to hobbyists by publishing real measurements of various speakers, including horizontal off-axis plots.

Still, as it stands JA's comment is strictly-speaking true. The gentlemen (presumably) in question can't claim the mantle of authority, in the way that someone with a track record of producing excellent speakers would. The merits of their arguments must speak entirely for themselves. (In this case, they do; the speaker's clearly a train wreck.)

Consider a disagreement about a minor point one that one is not interested enough to , if "Pallas" or someone else who engages audio on the hobbyist level exclusively was on one side, and David Smith (or someone else with a track-record of producing elite-level, superbly-engineered speakers) is on the other, one intuitively understands that burden of proof for each side is not the same: "Pallas" (or other hobbyist) has a much higher hurdle to clear than Mr. Smith would.

That's not to say all DIYers lack authority on loudspeaker design. In a "Battle of the Johns" (say, Krutke and Dr. Kreskovsky on one side, Atkinson on the other) any rational observer would give more weight to unsupported assertions by either John K than they would conflicting unsupported assertions by JA.

Stormrider 6th December 2012 11:30 PM

You can't just take Atkinson's comment out of context. The guy JohnnyR made some valid points, but he was also attacking Atkinson personally. Anybody who reads stereophile knows most of it is written to appeal to non-technical readers. They throw in just enough actual data (most of it manufacturer supplied, with a couple measurements) to give the appearance they know what they're talking about, and to try and back up the airy descriptions of sound they give. This is nothing new.

If you don't like it, don't subscribe. If you feel the need to point out errors, or misconceptions in an article, do so, but do it politely. Atkinson is not an audio engineer. He's a writer, and therefore he is out of bounds with his comment referring to DIY groups, and should apologize... But he won't.

* I'm not referring to anyone in this thread, just commenting on what I gathered from the comments under that article.

Kindhornman 6th December 2012 11:41 PM

A point about Stereophile is that it is a commercial endeavor. It is not an engineering magazine. It is written by people who are not engineers. Though there have been some very detailed studies with Audio Precision test equipment used to show the actual measured response of loudspeakers if you read carefully you will see that often the reviews do not match the technical specification. They refuse to do double blind testing. And the most important fact is that no products are reviewed without a manufacturer advertising in the magazine. That fact alone should tell you something, these reviews are fairly much bought and paid for. Most speakers that are sold commercially use off the shelf components, nothing special and that is why so many sound so similar, they are just different boxes with the same exact speakers in the box. That is not engineering that is marketing and Industrial design.

wayne 7th December 2012 12:12 AM

Stereophile often reviews products with no ads every being run by the company! They have also given poor reviews to companies with large advertising budgets.
I don't know what JA's formal education background is but he has measured many speakers over the years, presented papers on these measurements and the correlations between them and the sound. He makes measurements with multiple types of test equipment not just AP and he is active at recording. I think he knows what he is doing after all these years. You can disagree with the reviews but don't need to attack the man or the magazine.

DavidL 7th December 2012 12:24 AM

I find Mr Atkinson to be a rude and a not very knowledgeable person actually. Just because he knows how to push a few buttons doesn't make him an expert on speakers. He has in the past stuck his foot in his mouth often regarding audio but this time he's insulted the whole DIY community by saying what he did. Just putting out my feelings about the guy. He's not on my Christmas Card list.:D

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