Jim Austin

Jim Austin  |  Feb 08, 2020  |  2 comments
This was a surprise.

When I walked in to this room and saw these skinny towers, I didn't expect much. When I saw that they were wireless, I expected even less. But the Piega 701s made some very fine sounds, with good bass, tweeters that didn't draw attention to themselves, and a stereo image that didn't collapse when I moved off-center.

Jim Austin  |  Feb 08, 2020  |  20 comments
I'm surprised how many principals and designers are at this show, as opposed to local dealers and distributors—although perhaps I shouldn't be, considering that it's February and this is Florida.

In the Cardas/Joseph/Doshi room, I found both Jeff Joseph and Nick Doshi. I also found very good sound, produced by Jeff Joseph's Perspective 2 Graphene loudspeakers ($15,000/pair), which John Atkinson reviewed in the July 2018 issue of Stereophile. I won't comment on the speakers except to say that they sounded great; I'll just refer readers to JA's review.

Jim Austin  |  Feb 07, 2020  |  6 comments
It's Friday morning as I write this—the first day of the Florida Audio Expo, which is being held at the Embassy Suites Airport Westshore, near Tampa. As often happens, breakfast ran long, as colleagues and others stopped by for conversation. By the time I got up to attack the show—a little after 10am—someone told me the show was sold out, as in no more room for visitors. Say what? I've never heard of a sold-out audio show.
Jim Austin  |  Jan 30, 2020  |  7 comments
Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design, by Gideon Schwartz, Phaidon Press, 2019. 272pp. $84.97, hard cover.

The ongoing evolution of hi-fi can be measured in any number of ways. Most obviously, we see that evolution in the technologies associated with our industry: in big breakthroughs—mono to stereo, tubes to transistors, analog to digital—as well as incremental improvements in materials and manufacturing techniques.

Jim Austin  |  Jan 21, 2020  |  32 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  |  35 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  |  72 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.

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