Jim Austin

Jim Austin  |  Jan 21, 2020  |  29 comments
This, our February issue, is the first Stereophile issue to arrive during the year 2020, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of Audio Research—in my view one of the key events in the history of high-end audio. So it makes sense for this issue to include an Audio Research review—in this case, of the $20,000 Reference 160 S stereo amplifier.
Jim Austin  |  Jan 14, 2020  |  4 comments
My first exposure to current-mode phono preamplification was maybe a dozen years ago, when such products were new. The one I received, though nicely packaged, was not ready for prime time. I never smelled smoke, but I never heard sound, either: If it wasn't DOA, it was at a minimum DSAA—Dead Soon After Arrival.
Jim Austin  |  Dec 18, 2019  |  33 comments
Subjectivist audiophiles have long maintained that long-term listening is necessary to assess the quality and character of an audio component. Scientific testing methodologies such as ABX, which require quick and conscious evaluation of a change in the sound, have long struck many of us as insufficient, seeming to miss much that affects our enjoyment of music.
Jim Austin  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  71 comments
Spectral analysis of a live blues band recording made by John Atkinson, showing content up to 40kHz, from "What's Going On Up There?"

At the October 2019 Audio Engineering Society convention in New York, Yuki Fukuda and Shunsuke Ishimitsu, both of Hiroshima City University, presented results that show quite clearly that listeners can distinguish sounds encoded and reproduced at different sampling frequencies. Their trials differed from the previous ones in one important way: Instead of exposing test subjects to music at different resolutions, they used test tones.

Jim Austin  |  Nov 29, 2019  |  48 comments
My in-person introduction to Devialet's products was under auspicious circumstances. I was in Paris for what would be a month-long vacation; my wife was there to give some lectures, but I was free to roam the city, take pictures, practice my bad French, and enjoy the excellent food—the experience of a lifetime except that, a few days in, I was missing music. Still early in my visit, I wandered by the big Devialet retail store near the Paris Opera; it was closed but it gave me an idea. I soon had two Gold Phantom powered loudspeakers in our Paris studio apartment.
Jim Austin  |  Nov 12, 2019  |  23 comments
"There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind . . . the only yardstick by which the result should be judged is simply that of how it sounds."—Duke Ellington

Before I became Stereophile's editor—when I still had time for such things—I would occasionally pack up a camera and some lenses, get in my truck, and drive, usually south, in pursuit of good images and sounds. I'd spend a couple of weeks on the road, stopping to take pictures whenever I came across a picturesque town or valley or an abandoned drive-in theater. I'd try to end the day in some city or town that was likely to have live music. A couple of times on every trip, I'd find myself approaching an especially musical place: Clarksdale. Memphis. New Orleans.

Jim Austin  |  Oct 20, 2019  |  10 comments
Scotland's Fyne Audio already has a large lineup of loudspeakers, from small budget standmounts to some serious high-end contenders, like the nominally 96dB/2.83V/m, 8 ohm flagship F1-12, with its 12" concentric driver. I counted 23 models in 5 series, including four subwoofers but not counting their in-wall and in-ceiling lineup.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 18, 2019  |  1 comments
The first thing I did at the Toronto Audiofest—after eating breakfast and attending some business meetings—was visit the Zesto Audio room, where I was hosted by Zesto Audio President and designer George Counnas. I was eager to hear the just-announced Leto Ultra vacuum tube preamplifier ($9995 US), which features—wait for it—tone controls.
Jim Austin  |  Oct 15, 2019  |  39 comments
One of my biggest surprises since I became the editor of Stereophile—and so started focusing more on all things audiophile—is how often I find myself thinking about the ethics of this hobby. This is unusual for me: I dislike moralism and prefer aesthetics to ethics.

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