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Art Dudley Posted: Sep 30, 2015 10 comments
"The way that young people will get into high-end audio is not through streaming: It's through the LP."

When that observation was offered during a recent phone conversation, I wrote it down word for word—not just because I agree with it, but because it was so remarkable: The audio-industry veteran who offered it owns a digital front end worth tens of thousands of dollars, and hasn't owned a turntable for at least a dozen years. Nevertheless, as became clear during the remainder of our conversation, he understands the dynamic that keeps vinyl at the top: a confluence of marketing psychology and genuine sonic goodness.

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Art Dudley Posted: Sep 30, 2015 1 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.

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Art Dudley Posted: Sep 06, 2015 2 comments
An opportunity to return to Sonor Filtronique came sooner than expected: I was invited there for a September 4 new-product launch co-sponsored by AudioQuest, Wilson Audio, Audio Research, and dCS America. Encouraged by the dual prospects of good sound and a chance to enjoy the beautiful city of Montreal without an overcoat, I booked my train ticket right away.
Art Dudley Posted: Sep 04, 2015 1 comments
In a bizarre but happy turn of events, recent consumer trends have given even the most socially awkward audiophile something to talk about at cocktail parties and family gatherings at which normal people predominate: the PonoPlayer and vinyl. These are hot topics; each is among the best-sounding music sources available, and both offer hope for our hobby, if not for music lovers in general. But vinyl has the advantage of appealing to a much wider range of budgets. LPs can be had from anywhere to "We'll pay you to haul these away" to "Your loan officer is on line one." Likewise, vinyl playback hardware is available in virtually every price range, from a second-hand Dual 1229 ($50 and up) to the highly praised Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn ($200,000 and down).
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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.
Art Dudley Posted: Aug 31, 2015 3 comments
People who speak of running with the big dogs describe the experience as a good thing; I can't imagine why. I'll take the small dogs any old time: They're more characterful, less self-possessed, and just plain friendlier. And among hi-fi shows, Capital Audiofest is the friendliest and most interesting small dog on the porch, and still one of my favorites.

Gary Gill's regional show, which retains its slight and very pleasant DIY vibe, returned to the Washington DC area on August 28–30 for its sixth year, and drew respectable numbers of people, especially by the end of the day on Saturday . . .

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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.

Art Dudley Posted: Jun 26, 2015 3 comments
There's nothing new under the sun, or so we are told. Nevertheless, in the early 1990s, a British designer named Tom Fletcher upset the audio status quo with a turntable that combined otherwise-familiar elements in a manner that was, at the very least, new with a lower-case n. Fletcher's product, the Space Deck, was perhaps the first original design in British phonography since the Roksan Xerxes of 1985; and his company, Nottingham Analogue, went from nothing to something in no time at all.
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 08, 2015 5 comments
Earlier this year I pried myself from my upstate-New York home long enough to visit Robert Lighton Audio: a beautifully decorated suite on the 12th floor of 37 West 20th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea district, in which an Audio Note Ongaku amplifier shares space with a Suzanne Guiguichon armoire, and from which the view of the Empire State Building is stunning.


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