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About Jim Austin

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So far Jim Austin has created 91 blog entries.

Amazon Music Goes High-Rez

By | September 18th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

The era of streaming in CD-quality and hi-rez music has arrived at one of the world’s major subscription streaming services, complete with a free 90-day trial.

Amazon Music has introduced a CD-quality (confusingly called “HD” by Amazon)-plus-hi-rez (which Amazon calls “Ultra HD” so as (not) to confuse the masses) music tier at $14.99/month ($12.99 for Prime members). That price undercuts Tidal and Qobuz the two subscription streaming services most popular among audiophiles: Tidal charges $19.99/month for the tier that includes MQA, and Qobuz costs $24.99 for its Studio tier, the cheapest plan offering high-definition streaming.… Read the full article

RMAF’s Bold Move Pays Off

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

After talking with a number of exhibitors and attendees, I’d have to call the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest’s daring move to a new and very different venue—a controversial if also inevitable move—a success. Everyone I spoke to was happy with attendance, and the sound in the hotel rooms was generally excellent.

For people who stayed at the hotel, food in the two restaurants I visited was quite good, if pricey. The Marketplace had some excellent salads and enough goodies and caffeinated beverages to keep everyone happy.… Read the full article

WBT’s New Plating Process

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Ray Kimber of KimberK able was in “You gotta” mode. After he told me that WBT, the 34-year-old German company that supplies connectors and cable terminations to hundreds of manufacturers worldwide, had a new, environmentally friendly facing process that made for better sound, I arranged to meet with WBT founder and CEO Wolfgang Thoerner on Sunday morning to discuss their new “WBT-PlasmaProtect” PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) plasma process.

Traditional gold, copper, and palladium galvanic electroplating baths are not only toxic and high consumers of energy, Thoerner told me, they also result in a chaotic organization of molecules on the plating surface.… Read the full article

MartinLogan Motion 60XTi speakers and 800X subwoofers; Benchmark D/A DAC3 B DAC, LA4 line amplifier, AHB2 power amplifier, and Star-Quad speaker and interconnect cabling

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

If you, like me, tend to associate MartinLogan with electrostatic transducers, you may be surprised to learn that their more traditional Motion line accounts for most of their sales. The upgrades to the Motion 60XTi speaker ($1599.99/each) are subtle, and termed “housekeeping” by the company’s Peter Soderberg. Designed by their head engineers, they are claimed to carry over the electrostatic voicing that distinguishes the company’s other models. Together with MartinLogan’s Dynamo 800X subwoofers ($799.99/each), Benchmark’s D/A DAC3 B D/A converter ($1699), LA4 line amplifier ($2499), AHB2 power amplifier ($2999), and star-quad speaker cables and interconnects, the system acquitted itself nicely on a 24/192 file of Lori Lieberman and the Matangi Quartet’s “Empty Chairs” and another hi-rez track from David Chesky, “Transcendental Tripping” from Jazz in the New Harmonic.

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MartinLogan Motion 35XTi speakers and 800X subwoofers; Benchmark D/A DAC3 B DAC, LA4 line amplifier, AHB2 power amplifier, and Star-Quad speaker and interconnect cabling

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

If you, like me, tend to associate MartinLogan with electrostatic transducers, you may be surprised to learn that their more traditional Motion line accounts for most of their sales. The upgrades on the Motion 35XTi speaker ($649.99 each) are subtle, and termed “housekeeping” by the company’s Peter Soderberg. Designed by their head engineers, they are claimed to carry over the electrostatic voicing that distinguishes the company’s other models. Together with MartinLogan’s Dynamo 800X subwoofers ($799.99/each), Benchmark’s D/A DAC3 B D/A converter ($1699), LA4 line amplifier ($2499), AHB2 power amplifier ($2999), and star-quad speaker cables and interconnects, the system acquitted itself nicely on a 24/192 file of Lori Lieberman and the Matangi Quartet’s “Empty Chairs” and another hi-rez track from David Chesky, “Transcendental Tripping” from Jazz in the New Harmonic.

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Innuos Zenith Mk3 and Statement music servers and PhoenixUSB reclocker, Boulder 1161 amplifier, Ayre Acoustics QX5 pre/DAC, YG Acoustics Vantage loudspeakers, AudioQuest Niagara 7000 power conditioner and cabling, and SGR Audio Hi-Fi rack

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|













Innuos Zenith Mk3 and Statement music servers and PhoenixUSB reclocker, Boulder 1161 amplifier, Ayre Acoustics QX5 pre/DAC, YG Acoustics Vantage loudspeakers, AudioQuest Niagara 7000 power conditioner and cabling, and SGR Audio Hi-Fi rack | Stereophile.com


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Vandersteen Kēnto Carbon loudspeaker and M5-HPA amplifiers, VTL TP-6.5 Series II phono stage and TL-6.5 Series II Signature preamplifier, Aurender A30, AMG Viella turntable with Lyra Atlas cartridge, AudioQuest Niagara 7000 power conditioner and cabling

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|













Vandersteen Kēnto Carbon loudspeaker and M5-HPA amplifiers, VTL TP-6.5 Series II phono stage and TL-6.5 Series II Signature preamplifier, Aurender A30, AMG Viella turntable with Lyra Atlas cartridge, AudioQuest Niagara 7000 power conditioner and cabling | Stereophile.com


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Endow Audio’s Remarkable FS301 Loudspeaker

By | September 11th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

What is this strange creature with an upper driver that looks like something from a Marvel movie? Is it benign, or is it the blob that obliterated Kansas?

Once my eyebrows had lowered enough to get out of the way of my ears, I discovered that Endow Audio’s prototype FS301 loudspeaker ($44,000/pair), whose price includes a patent pending outboard passive signal processor, delivered lovely sound on David Wilcox’s “Chet Baker’s Unsung Swan Song.” Paired with an integrated amp from Hegel whose model and price I failed to record because I was too busy listening, the FS301 conveyed an excellent sense of venue and space on a Holly Cole track.… Read the full article

Krell Illusion II preamp and Duo 300 XD amplifier, VPI HW-40 turntable, Audio Technica Art 1000 cartridge, Alta Audio Alec loudspeakers, and ZenSati Zorro cabling

By | September 10th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Krell’s immensely energetic Walter Schofield was in the middle of a system description when I entered the room, so I didn’t know exactly what I was hearing, but whatever it was, the fact that I’d just submitted my review of the Krell K-300i integrated before boarding a plane for Denver left me very eager to hear it.

Dean Martin’s voice, on LP, sounded drop dead gorgeous. The sound was open and inviting, with just a tip of bright edge on top.… Read the full article

Raidho Acoustics TD2.2 speakers; Moon Evolution 700i V2 amplifier, 780D v2 DAC/streamer, 610LP phonostage; VPI HW-40 Signature turntable, Van Den Hul The Black Crimson cartridge, Nordost Valhalla II cables

By | September 10th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

In the Gaylord Hotel’s North Tower, where room after room, regardless of its size or layout, seemed conducive to good sound, Raidho Acoustics was making a major impression with the world premiere Raidho TD2.2 2.5-way loudspeakers ($46,000/pair in black). Designed by Benno Baun Meldgaard, who formerly designed loudspeakers for Gamut, the TD2.2 was intended for rooms just a bit larger than the hotel room in which it slayed visitor after visitor.

While the TD2.2’s exterior is similar to the previous version, the TD2.1, the drivers have a new motor design with better sensitivity (89dB), and, in Meldgaard’s words, “much lower Q for better amplifier control.… Read the full article