Art Dudley

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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.

Art Dudley Posted: Mar 05, 2015 1 comments
I've seen how most manufacturers work. They start out by making products they believe in—products consumers are likely to love. But after a while they begin listening to their dealers and distributors and marketing consultants, most of whom are inclined to say things like: "You need to make a six-figure turntable, to compete with all the other six-figure turntables." "You need to make a $1500 amplifier, to fill that price gap in your product line." "You need to make a small, stand-mounted loudspeaker."
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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.
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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.

Art Dudley Posted: Dec 24, 2014 1 comments
There may have been a time when vacuum tubes and microprocessors seemed strange bedfellows. But nowadays—given the countless digital processors with tubed output stages, and an even greater number of tubed amps and preamps whose insides are crawling with the latest solid-state devices—we're more or less used to the idea. Here as elsewhere, hybrids are no big deal.
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Art Dudley Posted: Dec 16, 2014 9 comments
No one spells it out anymore: Ours is a culture of BTW, TIA, AFAIK, and other letter-lumps, some of which have taken on meanings beyond their original intent. (Only recently did I discover that LOL stands for "I'm certain you find my attempts at humor as riotously funny as I do.") I am scarcely young enough to adapt.

Our interoffice communications are no different. Once a year I am jarred to find in my inbox a message from John Atkinson with the curious subject line "POTY." I am scarcely old enough to be perturbed: Every 12 months, I have to be re-reminded that POTY stands for Product of the Year.

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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.
Art Dudley Posted: Nov 12, 2014 13 comments
It's no secret, especially to those who've been following Stereophile for more than a short time: In the first half of 2007, I took the plunge and bought a Shindo preamplifier and monoblock amplifiers—handmade products characterized by low output power, generous numbers of vintage parts, steel casework finished in a signature shade of green, and richly textured, impactful sound with lots of sheer musical drive. And while we tend not to alert the major newspapers whenever someone on staff buys new electronics, the change was notable for two reasons: The compatibility of Shindo's amplifiers is limited to loudspeakers of higher-than-average sensitivity and impedance; and, throughout the seven years that followed my switch to Shindo (footnote 1) both my system and my point of view regarding domestic audio in general have evolved in the direction of the artisanal and the vintage.
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Art Dudley Posted: Nov 06, 2014 38 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.

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