Jim Austin

Jim Austin  |  May 15, 2020  |  29 comments
At the 2019 AXPONA, I took part in one of my first official meetings, as editor of Stereophile, with members of the manufacturing community: the German company T+A. They were presenting in the room of Texas dealer Lone Star Audio, which was owned by the late Jim Hench. They had a corner hallway to themselves: two rooms and, at the time when I arrived, a hallway table brimming with coffee and pastries. Fortuitous timing.
Jim Austin  |  May 12, 2020  |  45 comments
On Sunday, March 22, at 8pm, the state of New York shut down, governor's orders. Here in the Big City, most stores are closed—even Starbucks, or at least the ones near me. In my neighborhood, up on Broadway, a grocery store is open, and a drugstore, a hardware store, and a couple of bodegas. Some bars and restaurants are open for takeout only, some advertising COCKTAILS TO GO in big black letters painted on bedsheets—New Orleans comes to NYC. (Meanwhile, New Orleans itself, also a coronavirus hotspot, apparently is desolate, the bars closed, a hard thing to picture.)
Jim Austin  |  Apr 20, 2020  |  42 comments
The High End 2020 show, scheduled to take place in Munich in mid-May, was canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus. The California Audio Show, which usually takes place in late July, is also off, although the reason for its cancelation isn't clear. And as we've just learned, AXPONA, the biggest show in the Western Hemisphere, has been postponed from its original dates (around the time this issue hits mailboxes and newsstands) to the second weekend of August.

The reason, of course, is concern about the spread of COVID-19.

Jim Austin  |  Apr 14, 2020  |  141 comments
The hi-fi world has lost a giant, and we at Stereophile have lost a brother.

Art Dudley passed peacefully this morning around 4am after a short illness. The cause was metastatic cancer.

Jim Austin  |  Mar 17, 2020  |  11 comments
Some Stereophile readers will surely remember—some may even have in their collections—Christian Marclay's 1985 vinyl release Record Without a Cover, surely one of the oddest records ever, right up there with the dying-rabbit record and the seven-inch single that's tinted yellow by the band's actual urine.
Jim Austin  |  Feb 24, 2020  |  51 comments
January's Industry Update included a report on a scientific article presented at last year's AES meeting, in which the authors used test tones and a modest audio system (albeit in an anechoic chamber) to prove that listeners can discriminate between high-rez and CD-rez audio. This is important because scientific evidence of an audible difference between high-rez and CD-rez music is considered weak by some, even as anecdotal evidence grows stronger by the day.

As I pondered this, I recalled a recent paper I'd seen in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society but hadn't yet read. "High Resolution Audio: A History and Perspective," which the AES has made available free online, does precisely what the title says: reviews the history of digital audio beyond CD-rez and frames the issue of high-rez audio's audible superiority on the basis of the available evidence.

Jim Austin  |  Feb 20, 2020  |  29 comments
In the 1980s, the CD nearly pushed the LP to extinction. Nearly. For all the claims of "Perfect Sound Forever," the main thing offered by the CD was convenience.

Then, in the mid-1990s, the MP3 and the Internet made it easy to extract and distribute the information encoded on a CD. Secret websites raced to be the first to distribute free MP3s of new recordings, sometimes even before they were released. This went on for years, undermining record-company profits, before Napster came along and gave the record industry a high-value lawsuit target: no more suing widows and small children.

Jim Austin  |  Feb 09, 2020  |  3 comments
When I heard the Stenheim Alumine 3 at AXPONA last year, I frankly wasn't impressed. The tweeter seemed a little hot, the character a little buzzy. I learned just this morning that Jean-Pascal Panchard, Stenheim's CEO and designer, wasn't happy with them, either. He didn't think they were ready, but they had committed to presenting them at AXPONA, so he kept his commitment. They only produced three pair in that configuration. After that show, changes were made.
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.

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