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Neil Young has called the digital recording era the "dark ages" of music. Bob Dylan, in a 2006 Rolling Stone interview, called music from CDs "static" and "small." Just a couple of grumpy old rockers who can't get with the program-or visionaries who see that the times, they are a-changin'? A retired engineer's basement in Lexington, Mass., is the unlikely wellspring for some technology that could hold the answer. Richard Burwen, designer of everything from stereo sound chips to the Pioneer spacecraft's magnetometers, has spent nearly 50 years building and tweaking his own 20 000-watt ultrahigh-end hi-fi system. And some of the tricks and algorithms he's developed could someday make your CDs and digital music files sound better than you ever thought they could.