Art Dudley Listening

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
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 37 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.

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: 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: Jul 01, 2014 3 comments
It's going to happen very soon.—Leonard Cohen, "The Great Event"

With a parts list that includes 18 new-old-stock Black Cat capacitors, 16 vintage-style Cosmos potentiometers, two Tango chokes, one Tango power transformer, and some of the loveliest steel casework I've seen on a contemporary product, no one could accuse Noriyuki Miyajima of skimping on the build quality of his company's only power amplifier, the Miyajima Laboratory Model 2010 ($9995, footnote 1). Then again, because the 2010 is an output-transformerless (OTL) tube amplifier, Miyajima-san spent considerably less on iron than would otherwise be the case. Think of the money he saved!

Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Jun 06, 2014 7 comments
Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.—William Morris (1834–1896)

The Arts and Crafts movement, which took root in England in the late 1800s, was more than just a reaction to the poor working conditions and the soulless, shoddy, superfluously decorated wares associated with the early days of mass production. It was a rejection of Victorian attitudes toward class: of a mindset that promoted a chasm, in industry as in society, between the designer and the craftsman, the architect and the stonemason.

Art Dudley Posted: Apr 24, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments
Except for a few titles I've combined with the ones in my listening room, and a few others that I intend to sell, the record collection I bought last year remains in three rows of boxes on the floor of our guest room. Because that room is spacious and comfortable, and equipped with a small refrigerator and a flat-screen TV, it is also the place where my 16-year-old daughter and her friends have their slumber parties and Dr. Who marathons. Thus, as you can imagine, I must sometimes explain to our young guests the Tao of collecting records.
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Apr 07, 2014 0 comments
"Perhaps we can shed some light on your problem in a new segment exploring pre-adolescent turmoil. I call it . . . 'Choices.'"—Sideshow Bob, The Simpsons

"For us, unlike other manufacturers, there are not degrees of clean. Our entry-level machine is as good as our top of our line when it comes to cleaning records; in between, it's just a matter of choices." Thus spoke Jonathan Monks, who inherited from his father, the late Keith Monks, an audio-manufacturing legacy built upon the world's first commercially produced record-cleaning machine.

Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 12, 2014 4 comments
In the wake of my October 2013 "Listening" column and its negative take on the Pete Riggle Woody tonearm (footnote 1), I was surprised and gratified by the offer of another new arm: a gesture of trust not unlike sending one's children to a sleepover at Casey Anthony's house. The supplier was Phillip Holmes, of Texas-based Mockingbird Distribution (footnote 2), and the new tonearm was the Abis SA-1, the design and manufacture of which was commissioned by the Japanese firm Sibatech, itself a distributor of dozens of high-end audio brands, including Zyx, Mactone, Zerodust, and, perhaps most famously, Kondo.
Art Dudley Posted: Jan 28, 2014 Published: Feb 01, 2014 17 comments
Domestic audio is based on two simple processes: transforming movement into electricity and electricity back into movement. Easy peasy.

Audio engineers have been doing those things for ages. Have they improved their craft to the same extent as the people who, over the same period of time, earned their livings making, say, automobiles and pharmaceuticals? I don't know. But if it were possible to spend an entire day driving a new car from 50 years ago, treating diabetes and erectile dysfunction with the treatments that were available 50 years ago, and listening to 50-year-old records on 50-year-old playback gear, the answer might seem more clear.

Art Dudley Posted: Jan 04, 2014 2 comments
If you travel along Route 20 in upstate New York, you might see the hitchhiker my family and I refer to as the Old Soldier—so called because this slightly built man, whose age could be anywhere from 55 to 90, is always dressed in a military uniform from some long-ago campaign. When we first saw him, his topcoat suggested a recent return from Chateau-Thierry; in more recent sightings, the old man has taken to wearing the trim khakis and sharply creased legionnaire cap of the late 1940s—chronological zigzagging that made me think, at first, that this traveler was aging in reverse.
Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Dec 05, 2013 2 comments
Memory mitigates adversity.—Lucius Lactantius (ca 240–ca 320 AD)

Pity the aging perfectionist, the happy diversions of whose younger days—washing records, oiling turntables, leveling equipment racks, cleaning tube pins—have now become hated chores. And this from a man who used to redo his Roksan Xerxes setup every few months, just for "fun."

Filed under
Art Dudley Posted: Nov 07, 2013 2 comments
Whenever I'm moved by an artist whose work I've never before heard or seen, my first impulse is to wonder: What else has this person done while I slumbered in ignorance?
Art Dudley Posted: Oct 01, 2013 2 comments
Whether the subject is hi-fi equipment, films, restaurants, power tools, or condoms (see the April 2005 "Listening"), reviewing should be off-limits to the perennially unhappy. I'm reminded of that dictum by the flap over the recent film Identity Thief, which was savaged by reviewer Rex Reed—not because the film is weak, but because its star, Melissa McCarthy, is heavy. Reed, whose career as the Paul Lynde of film reviewing was punctuated by a starring role in a flop called Myra Breckenridge, mentioned in his review McCarthy's size not once but numerous times, thus exposing himself as a bullying hack who wields his harshest criticisms not when they are merited but as unconscious expressions of his own personal anguish. Hate speech of any sort is the crayon of the unhappy; that is doubly true of people who write for a living.

Pages

X
Enter your Stereophile.com username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading