Jim Austin

Jim Austin  |  Apr 15, 2021  |  23 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  |  Mar 05, 2021  |  10 comments
I shall always recall fondly the hours I spent shopping for used vinyl at my "local," my favorite Portland, Maine, used record store. If you wanted great-sounding records of great music in very good condition, for just a few bucks, this was the place. My local did not carry much collectible vinyl, but that was okay: I was never really interested in the high-dollar stuff. It wasn't until I moved to New York City that I started to wonder where it had all gone. The proprietor, I knew, traveled the country buying up collections. It was the '00s; he would have encountered many valuable records—so where did they go? He was a total luddite—not the type to sell on eBay, I knew.
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  |  27 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  |  Jan 08, 2021  |  5 comments
For jazz fans, a new batch of releases in Blue Note's Tone Poet series—vinyl reissues remastered with care and cut from the original analog tapes—is reason for celebration. Fortunately, the batches come frequently. The latest releases, as I write in late October 2020, are very solid, musically and sonically.
Jim Austin  |  Dec 17, 2020  |  76 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  |  Dec 14, 2020  |  29 comments
(Photo by Mary Kent)

Of late, Stereophile has written a lot about vibration-isolating footers under loudspeakers. The idea of isolating loudspeaker vibrations from floors is controversial. Many (perhaps most) designers believe that dynamic loudspeakers in particular—those with significant moving mass in their cones—should be rigidly connected to the floor as is typically done with spikes. A rigid connection of the speaker to the floor reduces the Newton-1 reactive motion of the cabinet in response to the motion of the cones, heavy woofers in particular. Cabinet motion could be expected to smear the loudspeaker's sound.

Jim Austin  |  Nov 20, 2020  |  18 comments
This is Stereophile's 29th Product of the Year issue; the first appeared in 1992. That was the year I finished grad school. It seems like a long time ago.

That year, the Loudspeaker of the Year was the $14,000/pair Sonus Faber Extrema. The winning digital source was the legendary Mark Levinson No.30 DAC—also approximately $14,000. JA later bought one, upgraded to 30.5, then to 30.6 status. He still has it.

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.

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