Jim Austin

Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  9 comments
For sheer scale, perhaps the most impressive system I heard at the Munich High End show was in the room shared by Von Schweikert and VAC. The star of the show was—perhaps—the Von Schweikert Ultra Reference 9 loudspeaker, which sells for an impressive $200,000/pair. The Ultra series is, Von Schweikert says, a cost-no-object line. So far there are three speakers in the line: The 9, the $300,000 11, and the $90,000 55. Von Schweikert, of course, also sells more modestly priced loudspeakers; their VR-22 is under $3000 / pair.
Jim Austin  |  May 16, 2019  |  0 comments
Etienne Charles: Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol 1
Etienne Charles, trumpet, percussion; Brian Hogans, Godwin Louis, alto saxophone; David Sánchez, tenor saxophone; Sullivan Fortner, James Francies, piano, Fender Rhodes; Alex Wintz, guitar; Luques Curtis, Russell Hall, Ben Williams, bass; Obed Calvaire, drums; D'Achee, congas. With: Claxton Bay Tamboo Bamboo, Laventille Rhythm Section, other percussionists.
Culture Shock EC007 (2 LPs). 2019. Etienne Charles, prod.; Glenn Brown, Christian Burkett, David Darlington, Mark Wilder, engs. DDA. TT: 67:20
Performance ****
Sonics ****

Etienne Charles, the Trinidadian trumpeter, percussionist, and Guggenheim fellow, has a knack for album concepts. His 2013 album, Creole Soul, starts with an incantation from an actual Voodoo priest and goes on to cover Creole-influenced tunes from Bob Marley and the Mighty Sparrow. Thelonious Monk is also in the mix, with his "Green Chimneys," which features a calypso melody Charles speculates Monk first heard in New York's San Juan Hill, a Caribbean neighborhood where Monk lived for a while.

Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  1 comments
It had been years since I last checked in with Totem Acoustic, the Canada-based loudspeaker manufacturer. When I showed up at the Totem room and was greeted by company president and longtime chief designer Vince Bruzzese, I didn't know what to expect. In the event, what I got was some excellent sound from two compact towers placed very close to the front wall, and a short introduction to what appeared to be some interesting technology behind those impressive loudspeakers.
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  3 comments
In Munich, electronics company Constellation Audio was demoing with Magico M2 loudspeakers ($63,000 / pair with M-Pod footers). Spinning vinyl was the the job of the Continuum Audio Labs Obsidian turntable ($35,000) w/Viper Tonearm ($10,000) and Ortofon A-95 Cartridge ($6,000). Phono preamplification was by Constellation—their Andromeda phono stage ($18,000). On the digital side, the source was Constellation's Cygnus Media Player/DAC ($38,000). Constellation's Pictor preamp was in use ($18,000), as was a pair of their Taurus monoblocks ($39000/pair).
Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2019  |  35 comments
Playing in Room F210 on the top level atrium of Hall 4: Two pair of Focal Scala Utopia EVO loudspeakers ($39,995/pair) with lots of Naim electronics and cabling. Also in the system was a VPI Prime Signature turntable, but it wasn't in use when I was in the room. The key items in this room, though, were humble footers: specifically, IsoAcoustics GAIA-Titan Theis isolators—not so humble after all, on second thought, since they cost $899.99 for a set of four. The loudspeakers—white and green—were arranged in alternate pairs, their acoustical centers shifted by a few degrees.
Jim Austin  |  May 13, 2019  |  34 comments
Krell had a big display at Munich High End show and seems to be on the brink—or maybe in the midst—of a major new-product and marketing surge. One major recent introduction is the K-300i integrated amplifier
Jim Austin  |  May 11, 2019  |  18 comments
Why travel all the way from New York City to Munich to hear (and see) a loudspeaker made in Brooklyn? Because it's easier to get from the Munich High End press room to the Devore Fidelity listening room here than it is to get from Manhattan's upper west side to the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where the Devore Orangutan Reference loudspeakers are made.
Jim Austin  |  May 11, 2019  |  1 comments
On static display: three products from Cary that just started shipping earlier this year.
Jim Austin  |  May 09, 2019  |  5 comments
I wandered in to the room shared by, among other companies, Accustic Arts and Fischer & Fischer. The news from this room is two new high-value products—by which I mean that they're cheaper than the company's main lines, so there's a good probability that they offer good value. High-end companies trickling down appears to be a Munich High End trend—note, for instance, the Mark Levinson No.5101 SACD player/streaming DAC I wrote about earlier today.
Jim Austin  |  May 09, 2019  |  2 comments
Just some tonearm sweetness from Thales. Photo taken through a window. Enjoy.

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