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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 30, 2016 3 comments
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Everything makes a difference. Everything. File that away.

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There are two kinds of good sound: good sound sound and good music sound. While I could describe the distinction in few words or many, it's easier to point to two recordings of Elgar's oratorio The Dream of Gerontius: by Sir Adrian Boult and the New Philharmonia Orchestra, with tenor Nicolai Gedda singing the title role (2 LPs, EMI SLS 987); and by Malcolm Sargent and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with Heddle Nash in the lead (2 LPs, EMI RLS 709).

Art Dudley Posted: Jun 01, 2016 5 comments
Though Westchester County, New York, seems a likelier locale for Bikram yoga studios, pet psychologists, and pricey restaurants specializing in "grain bowls" and fermented vegetables, the idea of manufacturing audio gear there is not without precedent. Cartridge manufacturer Micro-Acoustics (Elmsford, NY) thrived there for over two decades. George Kaye and Harvey Rosenberg's New York Audio Laboratories (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) assembled Moscode amplifiers there. Even the notorious loudspeaker manufacturer Fourier Systems (Yonkers, NY and Cocytus, Hell) got their start in the county that Hillary Clinton calls home, as needed.
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Art Dudley Posted: May 17, 2016 Published: Jun 01, 2016 17 comments
Note: All dialogue quoted verbatim from e-mail exchanges to which I am privy; the stage directions are imaginary.

Dramatis Personae:

bill, director of marketing for PS Audio

randy, amateur reviewer for a commercial audiophile website

dick, professional reviewer for an established audio magazine (not Stereophile)

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Art Dudley Posted: May 05, 2016 6 comments
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
—Robert Frost

Perhaps it was different for other audio hobbyists in other parts of the world, but to this American, the Naim Audio of the late 1970s and early '80s seemed a bit prickly. It wasn't just their road-less-traveled-by attitude toward amplifier design—scorning class-A output architecture, preferring DIN connectors to RCA jacks, routing preamp output signals and power-supply voltages through the same cable—but also the British company's perspectives on selling and setting up and even listening to hi-fi gear that seemed combative: Shopping for amplifiers based on output power is foolish. Using short speaker cables and long interconnects is the wrong way to go about it. And why do you Americans bother with all that "soundstaging" nonsense?

Art Dudley Posted: Apr 27, 2016 2 comments
I still remember how difficult it was for me to transition from mass-market to high-end audio. The former, for all its flaws, gave me things to do: switches to flip, buttons to push, knobs to turn, meters to watch. I was in control—and if my attention happened to stray from the music or the liner notes, I still had something to keep me busy. By contrast, the first perfectionist-quality amplifier I bought—an Amber Series 70—was an oblong box with an on/off switch. Where's the fun in that?
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 31, 2016 3 comments
In November of 1990, my wife and I traveled to the UK for our honeymoon, much of which was spent in Scotland. But we also spent a few days in London, and it was during that time that I discovered, in the Bloomsbury district, one of the finest classical-music record stores in the world: a two-story shop on New Oxford Street called Caruso & Company. It didn't have quite as large a selection as Music Masters, on 43rd Street in New York, but it had something that that long-lamented store couldn't boast: clerks who were friendly, knowledgeable, and gregariously helpful.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 31, 2016 6 comments
No second acts in American lives?
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2016 8 comments
Described by manufacturer April Music as an "all-in-one music center," the Aura Note Version 2 ($2500) is a 125Wpc integrated amplifier with a built-in CD player, USB DAC, and FM tuner. The Aura Note is further enhanced by a Bluetooth receiver, a pair of line-level output jacks, and a headphone jack.

The hackneyed but not inappropriate comparison to a Swiss Army knife comes to mind—but where that well-loved tool does a great many things with less than perfection, I've now heard the Aura Note V2 do at least two different things well enough that no excuses need be made on its behalf.

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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 22, 2016 8 comments
Although I'm not one of those people who dismisses Tom Cruise—he's a very capable actor, he works hard at his craft, he has a track record of choosing good material, and his personal beliefs are his own damn business—there's no denying that the addition of Simon Pegg has transformed the Mission: Impossible franchise into mandatory viewing for fans of films that are fun. So it was at Montreal Salon Audio, in the room sponsored by the French company Devialet: the opening scene of MI: Rogue Nation on a surround-sound system using multiple Devialet Phantom powered loudspeakers (starting at $US1990 each) had this home-theater agnostic on the edge of his seat.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 20, 2016 5 comments
I walked into the larger of Joseph Audio's two demonstration rooms—the one shared with Nagra and Kronos—just in time to hear Neil Young's "There's a World" and "Bad Fog of Loneliness," from the Live at Massey Hall LP. The performances—and Young's very funny between-song patter—were thoroughly convincing, and even in this large space, there was a sense of the Joseph Audio Pearl 3 floorstanders ($US31,500/pair) pressurizing the room to realistic good effect. I loved the Pearl 3s—and so, apparently, did Nagra's Classic Amp ($US16,000), a 100Wpc stereo amp that runs in class-A for its first 10 watts.

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