Art Dudley

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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2012 0 comments
Every hi-fi show seems to harbor a few restful rooms where the music is well selected and the playback quality is serenely good; at SSI, the exhibit space shared by Scandinavian manufacturers Hegel and Amphion served that purpose for me. (The white fabric walls probably added to the sense of calm.) The Amphion Argon7 L loudspeakers ($6k–$7k/pair, depending on finish) sounded clear, smooth, and altogether lovely with Hegel amplification and digital source components.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2012 1 comments
One of the many rooms sponsored by Montreal retailer Coup de Foudre was dedicated to the new DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 88 loudspeaker ($5000/pair), which replaces the Super 8 in DeVore's line. The 88 uses an entirely new woofer, which designer John DeVore says was influenced by the recent work he did on the DeVore Orangutan model; technical distinctions include a paper (instead of plastic) cone and a larger motor overall than its predecessor, with double the voice-coil travel. Consequently, sensitivity is up in the Gibbon 88, to approximately 91dB.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2012 3 comments
The curiously named Line Magnetic company of China has begun making a series of relatively affordable tube electronics, all hand-wired, and all with styling details that recall classic products from the first half of the 20th Century. LM's model 211IA integrated amplifier ($1650) was used to drive the new Gibbon 88s from DeVore Fidelity. Each channel of the amp produces 32Wpc from a pair of EL34s running in Ultralinear mode—the 211IA can also be switched to triode operation—with all-tube preamp and driver stages and a silicon-rectified power supply.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2012 0 comments
I was delighted by the sound being made by Montreal dealer Audiophonie—partly, I admit, because they were demonstrating an all-new version of the venerable Spendor SP100, now in R2 form ($11,900/pair), an earlier version of which I owned and loved for years. Its tone, touch, spatial presentation, and vibe were all just about perfect. I will beg—yes, beg—for the opportunity to write about the Spendor in the months to come.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2012 0 comments
Loudspeaker specialists Magico were on hand with their recent Q3 ($38,950/pair), which boasts a 90dB sensitivity rating and 5 ohm nominal impedance: not quite SET territory, but easily the California firm's most sensitive speaker yet. Magico rep and fellow bluegrass fan Irv Gross put the Q3 through its paces for me; I was impressed with its speed, scale, drama, and sheer grip—not only in the lowest frequencies but all the way up through its well fleshed-out treble range.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2012 4 comments
California-based Constellation Audio, represented by the well-known engineer Peter Madnick, supplied the amplification for the Magico Q3 loudspeakers. On audition were their Virgo preamplifier ($19,000) and Centaur amplifier ($24,000), set up with elegant looking (and apparently effective) loudspeaker cables and interconnects from Argento Audio of Denmark. Source components were the C1 D/A converter and D1 disc transport from CH Precision of Switzerland.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 23, 2012 0 comments
The speaker of choice in the Audioville room was the brand new KEF Blade ($30,000/pair): a consumer-friendly version of something that started life as a KEF concept speaker. (In particular, in order to reduce costs, the latter's carbon-fiber enclosure has been replaced with one made of a composite resin.) Mid frequencies and treble are handled by the metal-diaphragm KEF UNI-Q array, while low frequencies are given over to two pairs of side-mounted 9" drivers, working in tandem so that bass energy is neither wasted nor allowed to travel through the enclosure structure to modulate the higher frequencies.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 23, 2012 0 comments
In the Audioville room, Chord Electronics of England demonstrated their Red Reference CD player ($26,000), now in Mk.III form. Refinements include a fully motorized transport door, plus a true asynchronous USB input. The player's D/A section, which offers up to 192kHz capability, eschews the use of DAC chips from other manufacturers, its pulse array being designed and constructed entirely by Chord. Styling is on a par with the underlying technology—which is to say, a bit breathtaking.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 23, 2012 1 comments
The Montreal audio-video store Coup de Foudre has a reputation for assembling ambitious music systems in the Hilton's Longueuil salon during SSI. Although this year was no exception, the cost of that system had been scaled-back somewhat for 2012—with interesting results.

The loudspeaker of choice was the Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia Series 3 ($18,550 per pair in Macadamia finish—which bore a striking resemblance to the metallic brown paint on my long-gone 1985 Alfa-Romeo GTV6). Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath, also the recordist behind most of the music selections I enjoyed in that room, said there have been no running changes in the Sophia since the introduction of the Series 3.

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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 23, 2012 0 comments
The VTL MB185 Series IIIs, which sounded great driving the Wilson Sophia Series 3 loudspeakers, offer a choice between XLR and RCA inputs—and, according to designer Luke Manley, they can develop fully balanced performance with single-ended inputs. Their EL34-based output sections can also be switched between triode and tetrode operation.

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