HiFi Baby: A Talk with Kathleen Thomas of AudioQuest
Kathleen Thomas, the VP of North American Sales for AudioQuest was an honored guest at our recent Grand Opening. AudioQuest is not just a HiFi Buys dealer; everything in the store is wired with their products! Kathleen filled us in on some of AudioQuest’s awesome products and told us about how being a Hifi Buys baby sparked her interest—and later her career—in our industry.
First, we chatted about two of AudioQuest’s most exciting new products. NightHawk Headphones are the company’s freshman entry into the headphones market. They’re a cool-looking product with great fit around the ear and semi-open design. NightHawk headphones are ergonomically designed for exceptional comfort and feature high-quality cables, all of which produces a sound that is naturally extended and detailed while never being fatiguing.
Kathleen calls the JitterBug™ USB data and power noise filter “a really cool little device that you can scatter throughout your system, wherever you have vacant USB ports. It’s only $50, and it helps to lower the noise floor in your system. It’s a lot of fun to play around with.” The JitterBug reduces the noise and the ringing that plague both data and power lines of USB ports and it can improve the sound of a computer-based system even if you aren’t playing through USB audio.
Kathleen also talked about a USB device called the DragonFly, a thumb-sized digital-to-analog converter and headphone amp that “took the industry by storm.” Also in their line of “critter”-named products is the Beetle, a new digital-to-analog converter that includes three highly optimized inputs: optical, asynchronous Bluetooth, and asynchronous USB. With its 3.5mm analog output, it can drive headphones directly or send the audio signal to powered speakers, a soundbar, or A/V receiver. Kathleen says it’s a great “Swiss Army Knife of a device that can upgrade sound quality for hifi, gaming, or TV equipment, and it can add Bluetooth to older equipment.” The Beetle should be available soon!
How did Kathleen get her start in an industry that’s totally dominated by men? Well, she’s got a long history with HiFi Buys: beginning in 1973, she was in their TV commercials! “Dad was the store manager when they opened; I spent many years as a toddler running around the store floor. In most of the pictures of me as a child, I’m wearing the t-shirts.” Later, after college, she worked for HiFi Buys. “I love the brand,” Kathleen states. “It’s been part of me for many years.” As an adult, Kathleen moved to Seattle and worked in the audio industry for many years before going to work with AudioQuest, a company where HiFi Buys “has a warm place in our hearts.”
We asked her what it meant for AudioQuest to have Alan Jones resurrect the HiFi Buys brand. “It was an iconic brand, where everyone in Atlanta bought hifi equipment. It was sad when it closed; it was the neighborhood hub for all the local musicians. Now there’s something special about this Buckhead location. Taking the iconic colors and logos and refreshing them for the showroom today is really cool to see.” She continues: “The showroom is amazing. It’s super-comfortable with a huge variety of systems and a large variety of affordable gear, which keeps someone from being intimidated.”
And in the end, Kathleen says, it’s “not so much about the hifi, it’s about the music. We can get so wrapped up in the gear, but the gear is a way for us to get back to our music. Music is such an important part of who we are as human beings, about our humanity. Even the primitive cultures have music. Alan really gets that. These are all just transportation devices or conduits for us to get close to the music that we love. You can spend big bucks or spend a little bit of money. Wherever you’re at in life, Alan’s going to work his ass off to make sure you get the absolute best system you can so you can have the absolute best experience you can with your music, which is pretty cool.”
Amen, Katheen! We couldn’t have said it any better.
Come on in to the store and experience the latest and greatest from AudioQuest at HiFi Buys today. Be it a Beetle, DragonFly, JitterBug, or any of their other innovative products, we’ve got the goods.