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Art Dudley Posted: May 17, 2014 14 comments
How good does it get? I think I’m closer to having an answer to that one.
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Art Dudley Posted: May 16, 2014 5 comments
The first bit of music I heard at the Munich show—officially known High End 2014—was utterly lacking in soundstage depth, imaging precision, and transparency: It was actual music, courtesy of the Bavarian brass/accordion ensemble Unterbiberger Hofmusik, who performed just inside the main entranceway of the Munich MOC. (To the surprise of everyone, the morning dawned too cold for an outdoors performance.) It was a big, colorful beginning to this uniquely big, colorful show.
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Art Dudley Posted: May 10, 2014 6 comments
Bill Parrish of GTT Audio calls it "the best." Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports describes it as "the most well-organized, well-attended show, with the greatest number of products I've never heard or seen before." Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio says "It has risen to be the most significant showcase of high-end technologies: a major, major show." And our own Michael Fremer says it's "where you go to confirm that audio is a serious, healthy, and growing business."

The object of their praise is the Munich High End show, which runs from May 15 through May 18. . .

Art Dudley Posted: May 02, 2014 2 comments
No one can say precisely how or when the ancient 300B triode tube made its cross-kingdom leap to the modern world of consumer audio, but we've got the where pretty much nailed down: It all began in Asia, where the best of the West is sometimes held in reverence rather than left to drown in consumerism's wake. Asia is the final resting place for the great Western Electric cinema systems of the 1940s—and that's where the 300B earned its un-American second act. By the mid-1990s, the tube had captured the hearts of hobbyists who, consciously or not, sensed that the audio refineries of the day had lost the plot, not to mention the body.
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.
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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.

Art Dudley Posted: Apr 07, 2014 11 comments
Asked how to make a guitar, the celebrated luthier Wayne Henderson offered a straight-up answer: "Just get a pile of really nice wood and a whittling knife. Then you just carve away everything that isn't a guitar." (footnote 1)

The making of a preamplifier seems more or less the opposite. You start with a simple volume control and a couple of jacks, then add whatever you think constitutes a preamplifier. Choices might include electronic source switching, line-level gain, phono-level gain and equalization, tone controls, tone-defeat switches, a balance control, a headphone jack, an iPod input, and maybe even a digital-to-analog converter with a USB receiver. The sky is pretty much the limit.

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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 01, 2014 0 comments
It's a fondly regarded part of every SSI: a single large ballroom given over to small exhibits—some active, most of them passive—of products that are designed and made in Canada. Among the most striking sights in this year's Pavillon du Canada was something that I can describe only as The Big, Orange Turntable, which sat near the center of the floor: unlabeled, unattached to any other components, and apparently unrelated to any known exhibits. Big, Orange Turntable, we salute you.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 01, 2014 1 comments
I have experienced my first cable demo in French. The very animated and enthusiastic Bruno Delorimier conducted a Nordost interconnect comparison for an appreciative audience of Quebec audiophiles, using a pair of Dynaudio Confidence C1 loudspeakers ($8500/pair, plus $600 for stands), and all SimAudio Moon electronics. Going from Nordost's Blue Heaven ($350/1 meter pair) to their monofilament-technology Heimdall (ca $800/1 meter pair), the differences in rhythmic nuance and sheer touch—in favor of the Heimdall—were apparent, regardless of language.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 01, 2014 1 comments
Among the many SSI rooms sponsored by Canadian distributor Plurison was a ballroom—the Verdun, to be precise—where the signage promised MartinLogan loudspeakers on demonstration. I stepped a short distance inside and was swallowed by darkness—and sound. I followed the latter, turned left, and felt more than saw a row of theater-style seats, most of them filled with people who were enjoying Avatar on a large screen. The sound was indeed impressive, but it was impossible to see, let alone photograph, the gear being demonstrated, and I could locate neither personnel nor literature. Unsure how to illustrate such an experience, I grabbed my chance and, on the way out, photographed the next guy going in.