Austin Audio Works

Austin Audio Works

The History of AustinAudioWorks

I am Barry Thornton. Three years ago a very good friend gave me a set of Audeze LCD-X headphones and asked me to build a better amplifier for it. At the same time another good friend was complaining about his phono preamp. Along with this motivation, I had the time and the knowledge, so I began the road back to audio.

I heard my first Hi-Fi when I was 9 year’s old in 1953. It was a mono system with a big Electro-voice coaxial speaker in a Carlson baffle, an EICO 10-watt tube amp/preamp, and Garrard turntable. I never knew what the cartridge was but I do clearly remember being blown away by the sound. That experience changed my life. By the age of 12 I was proficient enough in electronics to be fixing TVs and modifying my Heathkits, and by college I worked as the tech for a boutique Mackintosh dealer. It all went on and it got deeper as I became a designer and manufacturer, and I aged.

But three years ago I was 9 years old again.

I thought I knew enough by now so I tinkered for two-years designing, building, and listening to all amplifier topologies current and past. Slowly, the realization of the shallowness of my thinking and the failings of what I knew (what it’s like to know you have been wrong for 50 years?) hit me hard. For a year more I mulled my new knowledge and developed a technology using no feedback, operating in the current domain looking for high bandwidth, offering low distortion and noise, Class-A. I sought a design topology that made me and other folks have eargasms on headphones. Concurrently, I did the same for a phono preamp of a totally different nature.

Together these make the ultimate Discography Auditioning System.

Individually they are elements of a superior high-fi system.

2015-16 was about listening sessions, reviewers and auditions, production prototypes, processes, vendors, and the like. The first quarter of 2017 began the selling of my art. I think of this as dynamic art for the listener, a new doorway to the soulful pleasure and fun of reproduced music.

We hand-build here in Austin, and as of this writing, listening to a prototype of the BlackDAC, working on a 50 Watt version of the Black Amp for planar speakers (Magnapans and Quads), and I’m working on a book about this - a bootstrapped start-up for old people.

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