Jim Austin

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Jim Austin  |  Oct 20, 2007  |  0 comments
Most people are familiar, at least in outline, with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea." In the story, the Queen decides that it's time for her son to marry, and the Prince—apparently a very fussy young man—decides that he can marry only a true princess, as measured by her sensitivity to small discomforts. It's like being an audiophile, but with peas.
Jim Austin  |  May 19, 2016  |  3 comments
I was lying on a mattress on the floor of an empty apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Not as grim as it sounds—it's a nice apartment, and the mattress was new, and had just been delivered—but it was hot (no air-conditioning), and my family and my furniture were still in my condo up in Maine, and I was lonely. I needed some cheering up. Which is how I rationalized the decision to buy an Explorer2, Meridian Audio's tiny, inexpensive ($299) digital-to-analog converter.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 29, 2016  |  51 comments
Photo: Jason Victor Serinus

Exactly what did Bob Stuart (above) say at that press event earlier this month at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF)? Stuart—CEO of the company MQA, short for Master Quality Authenticated—made an announcement about the Warner Music Group's (WMG's) transcoding of their catalog into MQA format, a project announced last May. But what exactly did he say?

Eager for answers, I arranged a conference call. Over the course of about half an hour, Stuart (with an occasional assist from Lisa Sullivan, MQA's Director of Marketing) answered all my questions and more.

Jim Austin  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  0 comments
When I moved to New York City about a year ago, I was prepared to dislike Brooklyn. Judging it by its reputation as the apotheosis of cool, I envisioned the borough full of good-looking people engaged in pointless acts of mindless, stylish conformity, from man-buns to single-origin pour-over coffee. (Anyone up for adult kickball?) As I've written before, about Portland, Maine—a hipster place much indebted to Brooklyn—I greatly prefer deeply committed idiosyncrasy to mindless conformity.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 22, 2006  |  0 comments
At the extreme high end—Halcro, VTL, Boulder, etc.—reviewers gush about a lack of character. If you're paying $20,000, you want a preamplifier or power amp to disappear. At those price points we also want extreme, unfatiguing resolution, and noise that's well below what most people would consider audible. But at those prices, an absence of character is definitely something most people aspire to.
Jim Austin  |  Aug 29, 2017  |  64 comments
Nelson Pass is a consummate engineer, but he got his start in physics, earning a bachelor's degree from UC Davis. As he worked on his degree, he was already an audio designer, focusing on loudspeakers—great training for a designer of audio amplifiers. Soon, in 1974, he cofounded Threshold Audio with René Besne, of audio and folk-dancing fame; their goal was to build electronics, partly because the field is less competitive—it's harder than building speakers.
Jim Austin  |  Nov 16, 2003  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2003  |  0 comments
"Imagine a lake," reads the website of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC) , "filled with semi-tractor-trailer trucks, magically skimming across the water.
Jim Austin  |  Nov 06, 2016  |  7 comments
The room was small, approximately square, with low ceilings, and—like all the rooms I visited at the show—very yellow…
Jim Austin  |  May 23, 2017  |  5 comments
"Let be."

Those two words, from Shakespeare's Hamlet, express an entire philosophy of life in one of the shortest sentences possible. The quotation may not be familiar, but the concept certainly is—contemporary equivalents, each with its own inflections of meaning, include: Shit happens. Let the game come to you. Keep calm and carry on. (I hate that one.) Paul McCartney wrote something similar, and only slightly less concise, in a late Beatles song.

Jim Austin  |  Apr 28, 2016  |  0 comments
Researchers at MIT recently discovered a "music channel" in the human brain. These neural pathways respond to all kinds of music—and only to music. "A listener may relish the sampled genre or revile it," Natalie Angier wrote in the New York Times. "No matter. When a musical passage is played, a distinct set of neurons tucked inside a furrow of a listener's auditory cortex will fire in response"

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