Art Dudley Listening

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Jul 26, 2016 0 comments
I should have seen this coming: Less than a year after the last time I railed against the darkness of cable reviewing—the indignity of crawling around behind my equipment rack, the tedium of comparing one wire to another, the frustration of trying to wring from the experience some fresh and hopefully entertaining observations, the horror of dealing with manufacturers whose hunger for good publicity borders on the vampiric—I have once again invited into my home a cable manufacturer and his wares.
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Jun 30, 2016 3 comments
One
Everything makes a difference. Everything. File that away.

Two
There are two kinds of good sound: good sound sound and good music sound. While I could describe the distinction in few words or many, it's easier to point to two recordings of Elgar's oratorio The Dream of Gerontius: by Sir Adrian Boult and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, with tenor Nicolai Gedda singing the title role (2 LPs, EMI SLS 987); and by Malcolm Sargent and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with Heddle Nash in the lead (2 LPs, EMI RLS 709).

Art Dudley Posted: Jun 01, 2016 5 comments
Though Westchester County, New York, seems a likelier locale for Bikram yoga studios, pet psychologists, and pricey restaurants specializing in "grain bowls" and fermented vegetables, the idea of manufacturing audio gear there is not without precedent. Cartridge manufacturer Micro-Acoustics (Elmsford, NY) thrived there for over two decades. George Kaye and Harvey Rosenberg's New York Audio Laboratories (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) assembled Moscode amplifiers there. Even the notorious loudspeaker manufacturer Fourier Systems (Yonkers, NY and Cocytus, Hell) got their start in the county that Hillary Clinton calls home, as needed.
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: May 05, 2016 6 comments
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
—Robert Frost

Perhaps it was different for other audio hobbyists in other parts of the world, but to this American, the Naim Audio of the late 1970s and early '80s seemed a bit prickly. It wasn't just their road-less-traveled-by attitude toward amplifier design—scorning class-A output architecture, preferring DIN connectors to RCA jacks, routing preamp output signals and power-supply voltages through the same cable—but also the British company's perspectives on selling and setting up and even listening to hi-fi gear that seemed combative: Shopping for amplifiers based on output power is foolish. Using short speaker cables and long interconnects is the wrong way to go about it. And why do you Americans bother with all that "soundstaging" nonsense?

Art Dudley Posted: Mar 31, 2016 3 comments
In November of 1990, my wife and I traveled to the UK for our honeymoon, much of which was spent in Scotland. But we also spent a few days in London, and it was during that time that I discovered, in the Bloomsbury district, one of the finest classical-music record stores in the world: a two-story shop on New Oxford Street called Caruso & Company. It didn't have quite as large a selection as Music Masters, on 43rd Street in New York, but it had something that that long-lamented store couldn't boast: clerks who were friendly, knowledgeable, and gregariously helpful.
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 07, 2016 10 comments
No one likes to be fooled, least of all those of us whose job it is to sort the real from the imagined: a tightrope walk, the audience for which reliably contains one or two rustics who delight in the occasional splat.

Such were my concerns in the days following last November's New York Audio Show, where I first encountered High Fidelity Cables—an exhibitor that generated considerable (figurative) buzz by promoting the use of magnets in an audio system's interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords. Indeed, by the end of the first day, more than one showgoer had asked me, "What did you think of the guy with the magnetic cables?"

Art Dudley Posted: Feb 10, 2016 7 comments
In my sophomore year of high school, one of the greatest challenges my friends and I faced was the search for the perfect after-school hangout, perfect being defined as "having the least amount of adult supervision." Some of us lived in single-parent homes, but only one had a single parent for whom weekday surprise inspections were impossible, and that was Scott. So Scott's place—a downstairs apartment in a nice older house not far from school—got the nod.
Art Dudley Posted: Dec 22, 2015 8 comments
In a typical phono cartridge, the stylus is at one end of an oversize cantilever (oversize in comparison with the cartridge's other moving parts), the fulcrum of which is nearer the cantilever's other end. That design makes possible a certain amount of mechanical compliance that, when the cartridge is lowered to the record surface, helps the stylus seat itself in the groove rather than bounce or skip all over the place. Without at least a modicum of springiness, cueing up a record would be more difficult, and jukeboxes and automatic record changers might never have been possible. Imagine!
Art Dudley Posted: Nov 24, 2015 1 comments
Just as John Atkinson has a special telephone on his desk, by means of which the late J. Gordon Holt expresses his displeasure at this magazine's continuing decline into latitudinarianism, my own desk is littered with a dozen or so windup timers, each set to remind me how long it's been since I last wrote about this or that hi-fi eccentricity. Each timer has its own distinctive ring: The one labeled "LOWTHER" is a bit shrill, especially at certain humidity levels, while the one marked "QUAD ESL" can be heard to best advantage only when sitting in a particular spot—and even I have to admit that my "CARTRIDGE ALIGNMENT" timer seems to go off rather too often.
Art Dudley Posted: Oct 29, 2015 6 comments
Please don't tell her I said this, but lately, my wife has been getting twitchy about my records. Twitchy as in: She wants me to sell them. Or at least some of them.

I have only myself to blame. For years, I have shared with her my every joy that came of finding, at a lawn sale or garage sale or on eBay or at a record store whose proprietors "had no idea what this thing is worth," some rare and valuable treasure. And therein lay another facet of my problem: As often as I would rejoice at the music I was poised to enjoy, or the sheer pleasure of acquiring something rare and well made, I would roll, pig-like, in the pleasure of the thing's potential monetary value. Old Testament–style dark clouds fill the sky outside my window even as I type this.

Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Sep 30, 2015 3 comments
To paraphrase the playwright Alan Bennett: When I started Listener magazine, my idea was to create a small, anarchist journal. But people wouldn't obey the rules.

In 2003, when I began writing for Stereophile, I felt very much at home. John Atkinson had one set of rules (footnote 1) to ring us in, us being the codependent communities of audio reviewers and audio manufacturers. Martinet that I am, I layered atop those policies a few rules of my own, to govern interactions with members of the industry. More recently, I began to observe an additional practice—I wouldn't quite call it a policy—meant to prevent mismatches, missteps, misunderstandings, and hard feelings all around: When someone offers me a product of a sort for which I have a consistent and automatic dislike, I tell them so. I say, politely, that I'm disinclined to borrow and write about the thing, because I suspect it will mesh with neither my system nor my tastes.

Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Sep 03, 2015 4 comments
Our small hobby contains many even smaller subgroups, some of them openly hostile to one another—itself a partial explanation for the whole small-hobby thing. I have been a card-carrying member of some of those groups, have lurked at the edges of others, and have ignored only a few—most notably that community of manufacturers who believe that the surest way to make a better piece of playback gear is to make it bigger and heavier and more expensive than anything else on the market: a group sadly notable for its influence over much of the reviewing community. Those exceptions aside, almost every approach to domestic playback gear has, at one time or another, had at least some appeal, and I'm lucky to have learned something from many of them.
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Jul 28, 2015 2 comments
During our second trip to the UK, my wife and I drove from Heathrow Airport to Swindon, to visit an older couple we'd met on our first trip. We arrived around noon, and Vera and Ross made us a nice lunch, which we enjoyed while looking at scrapbooks filled with family photos and well-worn newspaper clippings. Vera asked where we intended to spend the night, and I said that our next stop was York.
Art Dudley Posted: Jun 30, 2015 11 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.

Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Jun 05, 2015 6 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.

Pages

X