Art Dudley Listening

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Art Dudley Posted: Nov 24, 2015 0 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 4 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 3 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.

Filed under
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.

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.

Filed under
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.
Filed under
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.
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.

Filed under
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.
Filed under
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.
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.


Enter your username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.