As We See It

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Jim Austin  |  Jul 19, 2022  |  24 comments
'm writing this column on the long flight back to New York City following High End Munich, the big hi-fi show that in regular times takes place each May. Because these are not regular times, this was the first Munich show since 2019. This show was smaller than other recent Munich shows: COVID in the Far East limited involvement by people and companies from East Asia, and German government–mandated attendance caps limited the number of people who could enter at any one time. Even so, it was a big show, with some interesting product introductions and prototypes.
Jim Austin  |  Jun 15, 2022  |  2 comments
I'm writing this one week after returning from Schaumburg, Illinois, where I attended my first real audio show since the Florida Audio Expo in early 2020, just as the pandemic was starting to gain momentum. Everyone I talked to was hopeful, but no one could predict what attendance would be like or what people's attitudes would be.
Jim Austin  |  May 17, 2022  |  12 comments
I wrote about the music industry's impressive recovery in the February 2022 AWSI. Robust LP sales were a headline item of that report, but they're a sideshow: Paid-subscription streaming is what is bringing the industry back.

When I wrote that, 2021 wasn't quite over, so year-end financials weren't available. They're available now.

Jim Austin  |  Apr 12, 2022  |  52 comments
There's a notion among audiophiles that we must be regular consumers of live music, especially live acoustic music. It's the only way, the thinking goes, to calibrate our ears to the sound we should all be aspiring to at home.
Jim Austin  |  Mar 16, 2022  |  14 comments
No hi-fi is an island entire of itself; every component is a piece of the system, a part of the mains.—John Donne, from The Compleat Audiophile, 1623

Around the time I took over as Stereophile's editor, I bought a Peloton, the internet-enabled stationary exercise bike. It was a lifesaver during the pandemic, when gyms were closed; despite the poor audio quality and the awful music many of the instructors choose, it's good, diverting exercise.

Jim Austin  |  Feb 15, 2022  |  42 comments
Evidence is nothing without judgments.—The Lord Leto Atreides II in God Emperor Of Dune, by Frank Herbert

In college, I majored in physics, but I took a lot of theater courses. Not acting—I never had any affinity for that—but all the other aspects of theater: set design, directing, theory of performance, playwriting. One professor, a playwright himself, offered some advice to his students that has served me well ever since: To learn the craft, observe your response first, then look to the text to figure out what about it caused you to respond the way you did.

Jim Austin  |  Jan 19, 2022  |  9 comments
I'm excited about the return of live music to New York City. I've attended several classical concerts in the last few weeks, and in a week or so, I'll take in a show at the City Winery: Suzanne Vega. I haven't yet made it back to New York's amazing jazz clubs—the Vanguard, the Blue Note, Smalls—but I look forward to doing so soon, especially to dropping in on my jazz local, Smoke, when it reopens in a few weeks in new, larger digs.
Jim Austin  |  Dec 16, 2021  |  17 comments
My As We See It column in the November 2021 issue of Stereophile was a sincere expression of regret over my inability to connect with current rock music. It ended with a request for recommendations. I got 'em. What's more, most (but not quite all) of those who responded found themselves inthe same situation: They too found most current rock'n'roll difficult to relate to.
Jim Austin  |  Nov 16, 2021  |  45 comments
Even though I'm the editor of Stereophile, I sometimes struggle to get my audio system to play. It's a little bit embarrassing. Just last night, I put on a record and there was no sound. I figured out the problem immediately: I'd forgotten to turn on the amplifiers. But the reason isn't always so obvious.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 21, 2021  |  24 comments
I've got a music problem. Specifically, I've got a rock music problem.

It's a true cliché—that is, a cliché that happens to be true: Rock music, in almost all its forms, is young people's music. It's about new, fresh experiences—new love, new sex, consciousness sought or attained, rebellion, drugs—and when you've reached a certain age, those experiences don't feel so fresh anymore. That's a fact about which it's hard not to feel some regret. You don't have to share their sentiment to realize that there's a reason Pete wrote, and Roger sang, "Hope I die before I get old."

Jim Austin  |  Sep 14, 2021  |  12 comments
When I decided that Stereophile should review the McIntosh MAC7200 receiver (see the review in the January 2021 issue), I had several reasons for doing so. First, McIntosh is known for the quality of its radio tuners and amplifiers, so I was confident it would be an impressive product. (It was.) Second, a review of a terrestrial radio receiver in 2021 had a certain retro appeal that I thought Stereophile readers might appreciate. Third, as Larry Greenhill wrote in the introduction to that review, I like terrestrial radio.
Jim Austin  |  Aug 17, 2021  |  37 comments
In early May, some of in the music press got an advance look at what was coming soon from Apple Music. Apple announced that, following the example of Tidal, Qobuz, and Amazon Music HD, the company would no longer deal in AAC, their improved (but still lossy) MP3 equivalent.

Henceforth, all Apple stereo downloads and streams would be at at least CD resolution; many tracks would be offered in higher resolutions, up to 24/192. Apple estimated that by the end of 2021, 75 million songs would be available at resolutions of 16/44.1 or better.

John Atkinson  |  Jul 16, 2021  |  13 comments
In October 1962, the first issue of what was then called The Stereophile was published and edited by J. Gordon Holt out of Wallingford, Pennsylvania. The issue you hold in your hands, published by AVTech Media out of New York, New York, and edited by Jim Austin, is #500. Jim is the magazine's third editor, having occupied that seat since the July 2019 issue. Gordon Holt put together the first 82 issues, through the June 1986 issue; I was the editor from issue #83, cover-dated August 1986, through issue #473, June 2019.
Jim Austin  |  Jun 06, 2021  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2021  |  130 comments
MQA has once again floated to the surface of the perfectionist-audio pond—not belly-up as some have hoped but forced there by relentless pursuit by anti-MQA predators posing as impartial jellyfish.
Jim Austin  |  May 13, 2021  |  10 comments
Jukeboxes were probably the first music servers to take a form we would recognize: a music-playing device that allows you to choose from several, or many, songs. The first commercial jukebox, Wikipedia says, was introduced in 1927 by the Automatic Musical Instrument Company, which came to be known as AMI.

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