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RobertSlavin
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Art Dudley and amplifiers

Over the last three years Art Dudley seems to have been inconsistent about one issue concerning amplifiers. He seems to have unaccountably changed his views on what the best material is for their cases.

In the April 2004 and May 2004 and March 2005 issues he sang the praise of amplifiers from DNM. One their most notable features is that their cases are made of plastic. DNM's designer believes that even aluminum cases have deleterious effects on the signal. This is because he believes even the aluminum interacts magnetically with the signal. Presumably he would believe steel, a more magnetic material, would have even more adverse affect on the signal.

Dudley was quite enamoured of the DNM 3C preamplifier. In March 2005 he wrote that it is "simply one of the finest preamplifiers I've ever used." This was high praise for a $3495 preamp. He also wrote, "I don't doubt for a second that the DNM preamp's low mass has something do with how good it sounded."

However, in the June 2007 issue he was quite fond of Shindo's line of preamps and amps even though both their enclosures and their interior walls are made of steel. "All Shindo preamps and amps are built into steel enclosures, because Ken Shindo dislikes the sound of aluminum."

In the August 2007 issue Dudley sings a similar tune. Besides a clear acrylic top, the "rest of the chasis" of the Audio Valve Eclipse, "is crafted from laser-milled stainless steel-generously lacquered-which Becker uses simply because it sounds better."

It is hard to see how steel could be a better material than aluminum. Steel is quite magnetic and unless the signal is kept away from it inside the amp it would seem it would adversely affect the signal. The only benefit I could imagine is that perhaps it does a better job than aluminum of shielding the signal from Radio Frequency Interference (RFI). However, since the Audio Valve has a plastic top this would not help that model.

Anyway, I think Dudley ought to decide - does he believe in the benefit of plastic enclosures or does he believe in steel? Then he should be consistent.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

Apparently he believes that various designers don't care much for aluminum. Seems consistent to me.

I don't remember AD stating a personal preference for one material over another. He has merely reported what the designers of the equipment under review have stated as their preference. I believe AD has been more concerned about the construction quality and the final sound than any of the particular materials employed.

He reports, you decide.

(You really remembered his review from 2005?)

Elk
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

I don't find him inconsistent at all. Mr. Dudley is intellectually curious and explores what designers believe makes their equipment sound good. He then reports on whether the resulting product actually sounds good.

The only conclusion I can draw from the examples you provide is that perhaps what the cases are made of makes no real difference; there are excellent amps with cases made of all sorts of various materials.

RobertSlavin
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

There is some value in the two critques that have been made of my post. However, I think there also some problems.

Dudley did not just review the DNM components. He devoted an entire Listening column to the history and ideas of the DNM designer, Denis Morecroft (April 2004). He devoted another Listening column to reviewing two DNM amplifiers and some DNM interconnect (May 2004). And then he did a follow-up review on the amplifiers in the May 2005 issue. I do not recall him giving this sort of attention to any other company's products.

Jan Vigne said he or she could not remember Dudley stating a personal preference for a particular case material. However, in my original post I quote Dudley saying, "I don't doubt for a second that the DNM preamp's low mass has something to do with how good it sounded." In the April 2004 issue Dudley wrote about the DNM amp cases, "those plastic boxes may lack grunt appeal, but their value in the war against distortion is obvious."

Given all the attention he gave to Morecroft's ideas and products and given his endorsement of the ideas concerning casework in the 2004 and 2005 quotes above, I think Dudley ought to have done one or both of two things in his recent review of steel cased and inner steel walled amplifiers. One, he could have explained why his thinking about cases has changed. And/or two, he could have asked the amp designers why they prefer steel cases and reported the answer.

This is not just a case of a reviewer liking the sound of, for example, both transistor and tube amps. I have nothing against that. Transistors and tubes are two routes to good sound but they are not really opposites. However, I think that plastic and steel cases really are opposites, in some ways. If the steel approach is right than Morecroft is wrong, at least with regards to the arguments he made for his cases. I think Dudley should give some indication as to where he stands.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

Quote>> "I think Dudley should give some indication as to where he stands."

I can't imagine any explanation would be sufficient - after all, you've got him dead to rights! He's obviously guilty of having voiced the opinion some years ago that plastic cases contributed to the quality of an amplifier's sound. Now he's guilty of discovering there is more than one way to skin a cat. Can't forgive that! No reason you should accept any explanation a guy like that might offer.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

Why does this matter? The reviews were three years apart. Have you never rethought an idea over time? Would that more people had the courage to change their mind and say so.

Sorry, I fail to see the problem that looms so large in your rearview mirror. Did you buy the DNM on Dudley's recommendation? Is that the problem?

bifcake
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

Didn't Sam Tellig once recommend Armorall for records or CD's or something of that nature? If ST can recommend armorall, then AD is entitled to his plastic cases.

CECE
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

What was his stance on green ink, or other audio scientific breakthroughs. Will the tint of the plastic cover effect the sound....I'm sure it will, as the MKII appears next year. How come these reviewers never CHALLENGE these designers, these audio gurus with names that make them appear to be such experts..ask them, WHY would a plastic cover have anything to do with the electroncics? Challenge their reasons, don't just quote it, and move on...Be an investigative reviewer, not just a creative writer.
I'd love to hear from these design gurs (or maybe just marketing/packaging gurus) how on earth a coating of lacquer has any effect on ELECTRONICS in teh metal box!!! This ain't no Les Paul or Fender guitar, where teh wood and coatings effect the sound, it's a different principal going on...What is happening inside a pre amp that is electronics, not wood resonance making teh sounds......Is there anything an audiophile won't beleive?

RobertSlavin
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

In the August 2004 issue Michael Fremer reviewed the tangential tracking Kuzma Air Line tonearm. In this review he wrote, "When you hear a true linear tracker for the first time, you'll know it -- the absence of the etchy, pinched character present in all pivoted arms is among the most obvious differences.... When all playback conditions are ideal, the Kuzma Air Line is one of top two tonearms I've ever heard." From the rest of the review it seems that Fremer thought the Rockport System III Series 6000 tangential tonearm was the other top tonearm.
In an April 2007 review of the revised Air Line and the Kuzma Stabi XL turntable, Fremer wrote, "While it's true that a genuine tangential arm ... will eliminate the distortion products produced by the arc described by a pivoted arm's travel across a record's surface, experience tells me that distortions elsewhere in the reproducing chain are greater than those produced by the playback stylus's lack of tangency to the groove throughout most of its travel in a pivoted arm, and that tangential trackers are not worth the hassle and expense. Of course, that's my opinion; you may conclude otherwise. In fact, my position on this matter in 2007 is diametrically opposed to what I expressed in my review of the Air Line in 2004. Based on recent experiences with better pivoted arms, I've changed my mind. Perhaps another product will send me back again as I meander my own way across the record..."
Fremer acknowledged and explained his change of position. If Dudley has changed his position he has done neither. If he has not changed his position he should have at least asked the two designers of the steel body amps as to why they used steel and reported the response back to us.
DUP's comment that Dudley did not ask Moorecraft why he used plastic cases is wrong. Dudley reported Moorecraft's exlanation in his April 2004 Listening column. What he apparently did not do was ask the designers of the Audio Valve or the Shindo amps to justify their material.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

Maybe he asked but didn't tell. Why does this bother you so? Do you still hold the same opinions you did in 2004? I have heard more and thought more and feel rather differently now than then.

CECE
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

Nah, same opinion. If it changes every 6 months, that means it's really not valid. Just going with the moment, or item at hand. Some of the reviewers make it seem like each thing they experience in an amp or TT, is like rediscovering FIRE. Everyone is a breakthrough. Nonsense. But it does SELL new stuff. Last breakthrough in sound reproduction was introduced to the consumer...DSD/SACD. TT's still spin, amps still do what amps do. There are no breakthroughs that changed it this month. But maybe next month's WIRE, will of course.....be the breakthrough.

RobertSlavin
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers

I have no personal, professional or financial connections to the amplifier industry. I do not own DNM, Audio Valve or Shindo amplifiers (I own a Creek). Nor do I have any connection to Art Dudley other than I read his work in Stereophile. So I have no conflict of interest in making these posts. Other than saying that, I do not see why I have to explain to you, Jan Vigne, why I am making these posts. Other posters to the Stereophile Forum do not necessarily explain why they make their posts.
Sure I have changed my mind about various things in the past. So what?
If I were in Art Dudley's shoes I would have handled the recent reviews of the Shindo and Audio Valve gear as I am suggesting he should have.
I think part of the problem of some of the posters to this thread is that either they have never read Dudley's pieces on DNM in 2004 or 2005 or they do not remember the pieces. If they had, I think they would be more amenable to my opinion. Both the Listening columns are on this Web site. I do not think the follow-up in 2005 is on the Web site.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Art Dudley and amplifiers


Quote:
I do not see why I have to explain to you, Jan Vigne, why I am making these posts.

Fair enough. Why then does AD owe you an explanation? You seem to ask more of others than of yourself. True, you are not getting your name on the masthead of a major audio journal. So, then, who are you that anyone owes you an explanation?


Quote:
... either they have never read Dudley's pieces on DNM in 2004 or 2005 or they do not remember the pieces.

True, also I don't remember what I had to eat last month. It's just a little odd that you remember the articles word for word. Don'jathink?

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