Art Dudley

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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 25, 2011 0 comments
Axpona New York, held at Manhattan's Affinia Hotel opposite Madison Square Garden June 24–25, was my daughter Julia's first audio Show. She and I followed the sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young singing "Déjà Vu"—more real music!—to the Empire Room, where Wharfedale Airedale loudspeakers were being driven by monoblock amps from a new company called Audio Power Labs. Each 833TNT amplifier uses a pair of 833 transmitter tubes, operated in push-pull and driven by a 6550 pentode. Inter-stage transformers take the place of coupling capacitors, and replacement tubes are said to be plentiful—and reasonably cheap, at about $175 each. The 833TNT itself, which delivers 200W, costs a bit more than that, though: approximately $175,000/pair.
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Art Dudley Posted: Jun 17, 2011 0 comments
Far be it from me to surrender these column inches to the whims of a manufacturer.

That said, there's ample reason to break with tradition and offer the thoughts of an obscure English company called LFD, whose products may already have tripped your surveillance wires. In their "Charter to Product Commitment and Traditional Values"—which can be read in its entirety on Frohmusik's website and is signed by Bews and Hawksford (see below)—the people of LFD suggest, in so many words, that they will not manufacture goods outside of their native England; that their design work is guided by listening as much as by engineering theory; that they believe some component parts sound better than others of identical numeric value, depending on their specific role in an audio circuit; that their philosophy of circuit design is decidedly minimalist; and that they advocate the enjoyment of music on vinyl LP. That the principals of LFD have thus far avoided being burned alive as heretics is a source of wonder.

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Art Dudley Posted: May 23, 2011 0 comments
Like most people who are neither radio talk-show hosts nor members of the Westboro Baptist Church, I'd rather be known for my loves than my hates. And after wandering this audio wilderness for umpteen years, I can stand before you and say without shame: An unlovable phono transformer has yet to step into my path.
Art Dudley Posted: May 19, 2011 3 comments
I tried to name a high-end audio product that's been recommended more often than the Rega Planar 3 turntable. I failed.

The closest I could come was Rega's own RB300 tonearm, surely the best-selling perfectionist tonearm of all time. After that came the Rega Planar 2 turntable, a sample of which I owned and loved in the early 1980s. Next on my list was the original Rega Elys, a moving-magnet cartridge that sounded as chunky and direct as it was cheap and magenta.

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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 25, 2011 10 comments
Audio journalism is an unwitting form of pornography, albeit one that debases the soul with materialism instead of carnalism. It encourages—inadvertently, of course—the objectification of its subject matter, and can lead to Chronic Disappointment Syndrome, as well as a lifelong difficulty in forging healthy relationships with technology.

Those used to be just fun things to say. But now I worry they might be true, if only because thinking, reading, and writing about domestic audio have, of late, brought with them the chalky aftertaste of guilt.

Art Dudley Posted: Apr 12, 2011 2 comments
It's asked all the time, wherever audiophiles gather to grumble: "Everybody knows about Ferrari, Rolex, and Leica. But why hasn't anyone heard of . . ."

The last word is up for grabs: Wilson? Levinson? Linn? Maybe. But for me, whenever I'm in pissing-and-moaning mode, the choice is easy: Why hasn't the average consumer heard of the Audio Note Ongaku?

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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 07, 2011 0 comments
I was never happier to be an audiophile than when my train stopped at the US/Canada border on my way home. The customs officers who boarded our train were quite serious-minded, and as I waited in my seat I heard them grill other passengers regarding the precise nature of the Canadian goods they harbored. When it came my turn, a surly-something man in a black uniform examined my Customs Declaration, saw that I was bringing some new LPs into the US, and broke into a friendly smile: “What vinyl did you get?” We chatted amiably for a moment about old Quads and Garrard 301s before he went on to crack other skulls than mine. (Just kidding. In fact ours was the rare train—in my experience, at least—from which no passengers needed to be removed for lack of a passport.)
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 07, 2011 2 comments
Let’s get right to it: The Coup de Foudre system comprising DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 loudspeakers ($12,000/pair), Leben CS300XS integrated amplifier ($3795) and RS30EQ phono preamp ($2795), Hommage T2 phono transformer ($4995), EMT TSD-15 phono cartridge ($1800), Brinkmann Bardo I turntable with Origin Live Encounter arm ($7990 and $2000, respectively), and Box Furniture 3S3 stand ($2300) was nothing less than wonderful: easily in the show’s Top Five, and quite possibly the best of the bunch. The star was the latest pre-production iteration of the O/96, a 96dB sensitive (geddit?) loudspeaker that uses a 10" paper-cone woofer and a 1" silk-dome tweeter in a wide-faced (geddit?) box with a birch-ply baffle and MDF everything else. Their presentation was solid, substantial, rich, and colorful, with great touch, timing, and, above all, dynamics. Flesh and blood? The system was like a day at the butcher shop—but everyone was smiling, and there were no straw boaters.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 07, 2011 0 comments
The trouble with audio shows—apart from the cheap call girls and the occasional gangland-style execution—is the fact that, even in nice hotels, the smallest rooms tend to sound like crap. So it was at the Hilton Bonaventure, where acoustical challenges plagued no exhibitor more than Audio Note. Their excellent AN-E loudspeaker—a pair of which I own and love—requires that both units in a stereo pair are sited close to their respective corners. That proved impossible at the Hilton, but Audio Note’s Dave Cope compensated brilliantly and made a fine sound nonetheless with a pair of AN-E Lexus Signatures in striking maple veneer ($15,200/pair), photographed here by JA and driven by the Jinro integrated amplifier that I reviewed in the March 2011 issue of Stereophile.
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Art Dudley Posted: Apr 07, 2011 1 comments
Master recordist Rene LaFlamme of Fidelio Records marked the release of his first LP—a remastering of Melanie Barney’s and the Buzz Brass Ensemble’s colorful recording of Holt’s The Planets—by adding to his demonstration system an interesting new turntable called the Kronos. Designed and manufactured in Montreal by Louis Desjardins and photographed here by JA, the Kronos is described as the first commercial turntable to use both a fully sprung suspension and a system of twin counter-rotating platters. (The perpetually fascinating 47 Laboratory 4724 Koma turntable, reviewed in Stereophile by Michael Fremer, pioneered the latter but lacked the former.)

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