Jim Austin

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Jim Austin  |  Apr 18, 2019  |  2 comments
AXPONA 2019 was a good show—I'm tempted to say an important show. It's just an intuition, but I sense renewed vitality.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  6 comments
Both the name of the company and the look of their products belie what I found to be the company's spirit. "CAD"—short, in this case, for Computer Audio Design, but more commonly denoting computer-aided design, evokes highly technical, inhuman stuff. The main CAD products on active display in this room at AXPONA—the CAD Audio Transport, the 1543 Mk II DAC, and various "Ground Control" boxes—are squared off and minimalist in design, resembling space objects from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The components' green logos evoked, for me, nothing so much as the eyes of aliens come to abduct us.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 17, 2019  |  1 comments
The racks produced by Butcher Block Acoustics, which were on display in the EXPO at AXPONA 2019, are about what you'd expect from a company with that name: They look like butcher blocks made into shelves, with lots and lots of maple. If you want a softer, warmer wood, you can get walnut instead. Or, you can get walnut shelves with maple legs, or maple shelves with walnut legs. However it's configured, it's a modern, minimalist look--almost Scandinavian.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 14, 2019  |  13 comments
If you're after an elegant classic look and a compact form factor, you'd be hard-pressed to do much better than the Luxman NeoClassic series, including the SQ-N150 integrated amplifier ($2795) and the D-N150 CD player ($2595). Both are new, and both are now shipping.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 13, 2019  |  0 comments
In room 504 at the 2019 AXPONA, Minnesota-based Bel Canto partnered with Danish company Audiovector to present a really good-sounding system with a small footprint.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 12, 2019  |  0 comments
The room presented by importer Vana LTD of Lake Grove, New York, featured (in addition to some record cleaning fluid and Okki Nokki record-cleaning machines) analog components by the European Audio Team (EAT) and loudspeakers by Audio Physik.
Jim Austin  |  Apr 12, 2019  |  17 comments
One of my first stops this morning—the first morning of AXPONA 2019—was the Shunyata room in the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel. Shunyata, as you're probably aware, has long been one of the more scientific-minded of the companies focused on quality power for home audio systems.
Jim Austin  |  Mar 21, 2019  |  11 comments
Like most serious pursuers of the audio hobby, I've known about J E Sugden & Co. Ltd. for years. For many of those years, though, it was easy to forget about them, and I mostly did—until, quite recently, Sugden gear began popping up at audio shows, including the 2016 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. In his report on that show, Herb Reichert described the midrange of Sugden's A21SE Signature, a pure class-A integrated amplifier, driving DeVore Fidelity speakers, as "shroom-like" and contrasted the sound with what he called class-D's "fake cocaine." That got my attention.
Jim Austin  |  Feb 12, 2019  |  34 comments
In 2008, a pair of DeVore Fidelity's Gibbon Nine loudspeakers arrived at my home for a Follow-Up review. Within weeks, I wrote a check for them. That put me in good company: Several other reviewers who reviewed the Nines also bought their review pairs.

Ten years later, the Gibbon Nines are still my main speakers. That's the longest I've ever kept a pair of speakers in my main system, not counting the Polk Audio 7Bs I bought in 1980, when I was 16.

Jim Austin  |  Dec 04, 2018  |  16 comments
If there's one thing audiophiles agree on, it's that snake oil is bad—even if they can't agree about what snake oil actually is.

In audio, snake oil means fake science or fake technology—anything that's claimed to improve the sound of a system but that looks like an obvious rip-off. For some people, expensive speaker cables and interconnects are snake oil. A few objectivists consider AC power treatments snake oil: most modern audio components, after all, can correct for AC line-voltage flaws and reject "ripple" in a power supply's output. A handful of hard-core objectivists maintain that every new digital technology since the advent of the Compact Disc is snake oil.

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