As We See It

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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  |  129 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.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 15, 2021  |  28 comments
I bought my first streaming DAC in 2016, even though I wasn't yet convinced about streaming. Streaming audio was a great idea, but how would I get the music data from wherever it lives to my DAC's Ethernet port?
Jim Austin  |  Mar 17, 2021  |  7 comments
This gig has many perks—but the best one without a doubt is the cool, interesting people I get to "meet."

I should explain the quotation marks. Since starting this job, in April 2019, I haven't gotten out much. Even before the pandemic, I was too busy to do much of anything except edit the magazine. So, many of the interesting people I've "met," I've still never seen in person.

Jim Austin  |  Feb 18, 2021  |  8 comments
I was planning one of my occasional long drives, for music and photography. I had scheduled two nights in Nashville, so I asked around: Where should I go for live music after a dinner of Hattie B's hot chicken? Art Dudley recommended the Station Inn, perhaps the world's best venue for live bluegrass music. You can read about my experience there in the November 2019 Stereophile. The Station Inn has now added a streaming service. For $8.99/month or $99/year, you get between 10 and 20 live-streamed performances every month plus access to the archives. If you're a bluegrass fan or merely bluegrass-curious, I encourage you to check it out. It's not as good as being there, but it's still good.
Jim Austin  |  Jan 14, 2021  |  19 comments
In my As We See It column in the January 2021 Stereophile, I wrote about stories we tell ourselves to make our lives and music better—personal stories like the one about my relationship to my Thorens TD-124 turntable, or about hanging out with your dad (or mom) listening to records. Also hi-fi stories like the ones about the types of audio components we prefer—analog, digital, tubed, solid state—and how they sound. "Stories deepen our relationships," I wrote, "including our relationships with our audio systems and the music they make."
Jim Austin  |  Dec 17, 2020  |  78 comments
Stereophile has discussed the pandemic occasionally because of its relevance to our industry and our listening lives. But for the most part, I've steered the magazine away from politics and current events, and I will continue to do so. In this essay, though, I will engage, glancingly, not with politics or current events but with an idea that's drawn from them. I'm doing it to make a point about audio.
Jim Austin  |  Nov 18, 2020  |  51 comments
In my early years of writing about audio (footnote 1), I was known—to the extent that I was known at all—as something of an objectivist. I was, after all, working as an editor at a leading science journal at the time, just a few years out from a brief career as an actual scientist, still in recovery from the physics PhD I'd earned a decade or so before.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 15, 2020  |  39 comments
I've written before in this space that to me the most wondrous aspect of our avocation (apart from the music) is the way it exists at the intersection of logic and emotion, of science and art. The equipment we use is made by engineers applying scientific principles, yet its goal is to deliver sensual pleasure. Both viewpoints are valid.
John Atkinson  |  Sep 15, 2020  |  3 comments
Issue 54 of The Absolute Sound, cover-dated July/August 1988, had arrived in my mailbox. I had been warned that this issue contained a report from Stereophile's third hi-fi show, which had been held in Santa Monica the previous April. Although it wasn't listed in the issue's table of contents, I found the show report on page 186, written by Michael Fremer, who was listed on the magazine's masthead as "Senior Editor: Pop Mix."
Jim Austin  |  Aug 12, 2020  |  21 comments
Listening rooms are real, imperfect places. Their character arises from their defects. I like real, imperfect things (footnote 1).

Not that there's such a thing as a perfect listening room. Every domestic listening room shares the same basic problem: Its most fundamental nature—its size and shape, the amount of space it carves out—results in resonances that can profoundly alter the sound of reproduced music, especially in the bass.

Jim Austin  |  Jul 15, 2020  |  231 comments
After completing a PhD in electrical engineering at Imperial College London, Floyd E. Toole joined Canada's National Research Council (NRC), where he would stay for more than 26 years doing audio-related research. He continued his research at Harman International after leaving the NRC in 1991. When Toole left Harman in 2007 (footnote 1), Harman kept the work up under NRC alum Sean Olive—which fact surely has much to do with the excellence of their current loudspeaker lineup.

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