Art Dudley Listening

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Art Dudley Posted: Feb 15, 2004 Published: Feb 01, 2004 1 comments
Five years: My brain hurts a lot.—David Bowie
Art Dudley Posted: Jul 30, 2014 1 comments
Has it really been 30 years since an engineer named William H. Firebaugh unleashed on the audio world his radical and decidedly affordable Well Tempered Arm? (footnote 1) Indeed it has—and today, at 82, Bill Firebaugh seems busier than ever, with so many irons in the fire that he's been forced to give up the noble game of golf—an irony, as you'll see in a moment.
Art Dudley Posted: Aug 26, 2014 14 comments
Johnny Town-Mouse was born in a cupboard, and Timmie Willie was born in a garden—this according to Beatrix Potter, who modeled both of her hantavirus-carrying protagonists after people of her acquaintance. Transposed to the city, Timmie Willie was chased by a maid and a housecat, while Johnny Town-Mouse's visit to the countryside was spoiled by cows, lawn mowers, and boredom. Both characters enjoyed good mental and physical health only in the settings to which they were accustomed, although Potter made it clear that her far greater sympathies lay with Timmie Willie.
Art Dudley Posted: Oct 02, 2014 0 comments
". . . with faithfully replicated artwork."

That's how a press release, dated June 16 of this year, described the manner in which the next wave of Beatles LPs—mono releases claimed to be mastered direct from the original analog mixdown tapes, and not the 44.1kHz digital files that Apple Records and Universal Music Enterprises (which now owns EMI) considered good enough for their last wave of Beatles LPs—are being packaged for sale. Hope, as Emily Dickinson once observed, is that thing with the feathers. Which, as we all know, evolved from the dinosaurs.

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Art Dudley Posted: Nov 06, 2014 41 comments
Let's say you want a reliable means of distinguishing between original works of art and forgeries of same. One thing you wouldn't do—assuming you know anything about art, human perception, or the subtle differences between car wax and excrement—is apply to the problem a blind test: You wouldn't waste your time bringing people in off the streets, showing them pairs of similar but nonidentical images for 15 seconds each, and expecting your test participants to provide answers of any worth. You wouldn't do that because it's stupid.
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Art Dudley Posted: Dec 05, 2014 3 comments
No doubt every model in the current Jaguar lineup is at least good, if not great. Their specs speak of high power, nimble handling, blinky acceleration, and no shortage of creature comforts. Yet for all that, modern Jags don't interest me in the least, partly because I know I'll never have the money to buy one, and partly because the Jaguars of the 21st century lack the character of their mid-20th century forebears. It seems to me that Jaguars have, over the years, gone from being in a class of their own to being scarcely more than upmarket versions of everydamnthing else.
Art Dudley Posted: Jan 22, 2015 0 comments
Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.—Homer Simpson

Months ago, as we put together the most recent installment of "Recommended Components," Phillip Holmes, of Mockingbird Distribution, got in touch and asked if we would please remove from our list the Abis SA-1 tonearm, which Mockingbird distributes (and which I first wrote about in our March 2014 issue, footnote 1). As it turns out, Abis is making some changes to the arm, and Holmes didn't think it would be right to let the recommendation endure until we'd had a chance to try the new one.

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Art Dudley Posted: Feb 13, 2015 8 comments
During last September's Brooklyn Audio Show, a thoughtful and amiable hobbyist explained to me his views on the purpose of an audio system. It seems that, for a great many years, he was told—by the powers that be, the holy on high, the gurus du jour (whose jour seems to have ended without anyone really noticing)—that a home audio system should transport the listener to the concert hall. Yet now he has come to realize that the very best gear brings the performance venue into the listener's living room.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 04, 2015 9 comments
I'm old enough to remember Fizzies: tablets that were promised to transform mere water into an effervescent soft drink. They showed up on my radar when I was five, at a time when impatience stood between me and the full Fizzies experience: I couldn't wait for the Bromo-Seltzer–like tablet to dissolve completely, so I was rewarded with little flavor and lots of undissolved sugar shards. At my present age, I would be likelier to drop a Fizzie into a glass of water, walk away, and forget I had ever done so.
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2015 0 comments
"Too much Stokowski."—Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1940, reacting to a demonstration of a stereo recording of Leopold Stokowski conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra

I don't remember when, but at some point during the past few years I realized that, in my home, mono cartridges outnumber their stereo counterparts. A few weeks ago, my collection of phono equipment took another step in the same strange direction: After receiving from Ortofon a sample of their CG 25 DI Mk.II mono pickup head ($902) for review, I was so impressed with its sound that I asked if I could buy the review sample. Now, having put check in mail, I own twice as many mono cartridges as stereo ones. Take that, multichannelism.

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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 22, 2015 0 comments
At home, I have two different ways of listening to music—just as I have two different ways of cooking and washing the car and making coffee and getting dressed to go out.

My first approach to listening is the one that takes the most time: It requires forethought and effort and, consciously or not, a certain amount of ritual—yet those things are enjoyable in and of themselves, and the end results are often more than merely satisfying.

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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 21, 2004 Published: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
One of the nicest things about communicating online is the potential for immediacy. One person can offer up a statement, another can respond within seconds, and voilà: instant town hall.
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 05, 2015 2 comments
"I don't know what I think on that one. I haven't written about it yet."—Walter Lippmann (attributed)

As sometimes happens, this started out to be a very different column. But by the time I was a thousand words into it, I found that my point of view had changed.

A number of months ago, I received from a Canadian company called BIS Audio a review sample of their Expression interconnect: a shielded, unbalanced interconnect terminated with Eichmann BulletPlugs (RCA). Priced at $480 Canadian per 1m pair, the Expression falls squarely in the middle of BIS's interconnect line: a lowish range for high-end audio, and suggestive of a manufacturer that values value.

Art Dudley Posted: Jun 30, 2015 6 comments
Before hitting the Refresh key on last month's column, which was dedicated to the challenges one encounters when evaluating audio cables and other accessories, I'd like to share with you a true story: a cautionary tale, as it were, about the hazards of writing reviews for a living.

Seven or eight years ago, just as spring was returning to upstate New York, I made my annual trek to Montreal for Salon Son et Image: one of my favorite audio shows for a number of reasons, not the least being the fact that I can travel there by train.

Art Dudley Posted: Apr 18, 2004 Published: Apr 01, 2004 0 comments
Consider the fate of Giordano Bruno, a 16th-century astronomer who challenged Ptolemy's notion of Earth being the center of a finite universe—and in doing so went head to head with the church of Rome. Bruno's scholarly diligence and fearlessness were rewarded not with fame, riches, or accolades from his colleagues, but with a hot-lead enema, after which he was burned at the stake. Next heretic in line, step right up, please.

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