Art Dudley's New Listening Room: a Binaural Video

The real star of this video is my dog, Chatter Dudley, an 8-year-old Jack Russell Terrier with a fierce fondness for Herb Reichert (they had met once before), and who had Jana Dagdagan saying, by the end of the day, "I wish I had a dog." Unfortunately, the cameras weren't running when Chatter took a running leap to sit next to Herb while he was on the couch, listening to the blue-vinyl version of Puente Celeste's Nama.

Herb and Jana were visiting me in Albany, NY, at the 1936 semi-mock-Tudor house I now call home. Albany-perhaps the only US state capital whose downtown streets are named after birds-is a city of 100,000 souls and at least one great record store (Last Vestige, on Quail Street-which, sadly, we didn't have time to visit that day). King Crimson included Albany in their tour of late last year; in February I heard the brilliant Attacca Quartet in a hall just 20 minutes from my house; Robin Trower played here in March (but I missed that one); last month I heard Hot Rize in a hall just 5 minutes from my house; and just across the Hudson River is the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, which is renowned for its fine acoustics as both a performance and recording space.

Less renowned are the acoustics in my new listening room, which is also my new living room, which is also where Chatter determined that Herb is indeed a member of her pack. Though imperfect, I think I'm getting a handle on it. And the AC power, which isn't quite up to the standards of my previous and comparatively rural home, is responding well to treatment.

This video includes sketchy descriptions of recent changes to my system. One thing I left out: the very nice Acoustical Systems Arché headshell, seen at the business end of my well-loved EMT 997 tonearm.

One other thing that didn't make it to video: Herb declaring, moments after he sat down in the sweet seat and began listening, "For someone who doesn't care about stereo imaging, you've got these speakers dialed in well!" That's one of the great things about the DeVore Orangutan O/93: unlike other speakers I love, its best room position for spatial performance also turns out to be its best position for other characteristics-bass weight and tactile impact among them. Perhaps you'll hear some of the qualities that we heard, while we enjoyed a few of my favorite records and at the same time recorded the sound with a Sennheiser binaural headset.

Enjoy your visit, and please tell my wife: Yes, it looked as though he had vacuumed recently.

COMMENTS
volvic's picture

Beautiful home, any earth tone colour will beautify that room. Still building the plinth for the TD-124 or is that table now no longer in use? Love that 301. I love seeing Stereophile reviewers having similar setups like the rest of us, with no dedicated listening rooms, but real life setups in living rooms and offices just like the rest of us.

Art Dudley's picture
Thank you, Volvic! The plinth is back on the bench for a bit of fine-tuning and a paint job.
Ortofan's picture

... an even greater opportunity to become one with the Shindo.

Following that path, the 301 can form the basis for manifold future monthly columns as he experiments with the Shindo plinth, the Shindo platter, the Shindo oil bearing, the Shindo record weight, the Shindo tonearm and the Shindo modified Ortofon SPU cartridge.

dalethorn's picture

There's more sound, more weight in the studio recording, and the guitar tone loses out quite a bit compared to the live recording. I thought the live guitar sounded great on those high-efficiency speakers, and then I was surprised how rich the sound was on those same speakers with the studio recording.

music or sound's picture

I think that the room acoustics are at least as important as the gear but in all these videos I see not much discussion about the room (at least in this video the dimensions are discussed). I just moved into a house with a living/listening room of similar dimension from a much bigger room with more optimized room dimensions and find a more intimate sound but with a huge loss of soundstage. The first action was to close the fireplace acoustically with a DIY sound absorber (otherwise it would be a big resonator)

tonykaz's picture

A moment ago, I was watching the Video of Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondent's Dinner, the visual quality of that Professionally done Video is horrible compared to the Quality of Jana's work in this report.

Video gear and quality levels are still advancing at an amazing pace.

Audio gear is improving too, I'm comfortable say'n that Digital now has the ability to bring superb sound quality levels to Billions of Phone owners, located in most places on our Earth. Phew!

and now...

I'm listening to your music system, along with thousands of other folks who are probably admiring your electronics & loudspeaker choices as much as I am, of course, thru the magic of Digital. ehhhhgadsssss! Could we imagine this sort of thing, back when we were carefully handling our 78s and little 45s?

You're gear sounds wonderful to me. I think you won Life's Lottery!

Tony in Michigan

ps. what happened to those previous lovely electronics? : "the rest of the Story".

Ricky Dasler's picture

Art, thanks for the heads up on David Grier. Have just ordered the Evocative CD from his website.
Your system sounds great through my beat up Sennheisers, and your room looks like a lovely space (once painted : ))

Thanks for posting the video.

Art Dudley's picture
Thanks, Ricky. If you enjoy bluegrass guitar, I strongly recommend David's CD I've Got the House to Myself, which is like the Rosetta Stone of flatpicking: It "explains" a lot!
Ortofan's picture

... a tad archaic.

In his new listening room, AD should audition a pair of the Harbeth Super HL5plus speakers that he has reviewed previously matched with the Luxman L-509X amp tested this month.

What has become of the rabbits?

Anton's picture

Great suggestions!

Art Dudley's picture
We were down to two bunnies last year, and then the older of the two, Noelle, passed away (the little wooden box on the mantle, next to the little wooden owl, contains her ashes), so now we're down to just one, Theo Hopper. He is getting on in years but is still healthy, still hopping.
volvic's picture

I have all three of mine as well in their respective urns. I wonder if all bunny owners do the same. They loved Mozart, Bach and John Tavener, not so much Bruckner. Beautiful creatures.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I don't know if I'll ever review a Bruckner recording for Stereophile...

Anton's picture

Actually, Bruckner’s Music is much better than it sounds.

mmole's picture

...Bruckner thing and he told me it was "just a phase."

However, if you want to see someone do that "Slowly I turned..." move, ask Mrs. Dudley about Ravel's "L'enfant et les sortileges."

volvic's picture

I adore Bruckner so JVS please feel free to review any Bruckner that comes your way.

dalethorn's picture

My goodness - I not only have several versions of several Bruckner symphonies, I get the recurring Bruckner Society newsletter that's chock full of things you'd never read about elsewhere.

tenorman's picture

Art ,
I really enjoy these wonderful informative and very funny Stereophile videos ! Yours in particular . Thank you very much for the time and effort and please keep them coming .
Have you sold you’re beloved Altecs ?
You’ve inspired me to one day own the 301 TT .

Art Dudley's picture
Thanks for your kind words! The Altecs are in the garage, and will soon re-appear, but in a different room.
Anton's picture

I could see you building a great looking/sounding lift on/lift off baffle cover for your fireplace. I’ve heard some that were pretty amazing.

Oh! I see “music and sound” mentioned it as well. It could provide several monthly columns worth of interesting subject material!

I came one final signature away from a move to Lenox/Pittsfield/Williamstown about 15 years ago. Lovely area. How did you pick Albany?

greyscale's picture

Looking at the video, the fireplace wall is 2x4 sheetrock. perhaps a fireplace fire led to the differant construction?>

Art Dudley's picture
What you're seeing there is not a 2x4 but a block of wood that I've put in place so I can screw a sheetrock patch to it: The previous owners had a flatscreen TV over the fireplace, and that opening had been occupied by the outlet they installed for AC and cable. The wall is indeed plaster.
RH's picture

This was a wonderful video. Well shot, Art is an engaging host and one of my all time favorite audio writers (actually, maybe one of my favorite writers, period!). And I was especially intrigued by this episodes binaural section, as I've just been auditioning the Devore 93 (and 96) speakers myself, this week. It was fascinating how much of the character of the Devores seemed to translate to from this video - I recognized that sense of texture, aliveness and warmth. They are wonderfully engaging speakers that really seem to bring out the dynamics of a bands rhythm section.

One note of curmudgeonly dissent: Listening to dog owners discuss their dogs is akin to someone saying "Hey, did I tell you about the dream I had last night?" It's the only moment I've ever been bored by Art Dudley :-)

(Dodges tomatoes from dog lovers....)

As for room color, sand certainly sounds nice. I like a cohesive look in a room so I have generally gone for shades of brown (light or dark) because most speakers tend to come in wood colors.

Anton's picture
JoeinNC's picture

Listening to dog owners discuss their dogs is akin to someone saying "Hey, did I tell you about the dream I had last night?"

Not a dog person myself, so I got a chuckle out of that.

ok's picture

..

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

but we do have three rabid terrorers who are determined to tear at your pants if you ever cross their path. Every member of the PNWAS who has discovered Daisy Mae Doven or another member of our terrorer troika nuzzling them or licking their face knows the folly of your words. Translation: Dogs and Devores are equally engaging!!!

windansea's picture

one of my favorite Art columns concerned the Flamencos entering his household, and how his wife and daughter enjoyed the sight of them. I showed photos of Flamencos to various women, and it had the same effect! So I was sad to see the Flamencos displaced from the listening room in Art's new home. Their garish retroness really went with the unique Shindo aesthetic.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Are these are rare Spanish breed of flamingos?

Chris Bell's picture

Hi Art... great video. I like that you and your team take the time to craft each shot. I'm listening to Berg's violin concerto as I type... thanks for introducing a composer I've not listened to before.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture
Vade Forrester's picture

Nice interview. Are we listening to MP3 recordings of the musical selections?

Vade Forrester
Reviewer, SoundStage! Network and The Absolute Sound
My words=my thoughts.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

What makes you ask this question?

Vade Forrester's picture

I wondered what the quality of the audio of the musical recordings in the interviews was. Same question would apply to your AXPONA room visits. Which are very nicely done, BTW.

Vade Forrester
Reviewer, SoundStage! Network and The Absolute Sound
My words=my thoughts.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Thanks for the explanation None of the music on my AXPONA reviews was dubbed in afterwards. John's files are, in general, 24/88.2, in either flac or WAV. None of the rooms was equipped for MQA playback, so we didn't play those versions when we had them.

When we discovered that the Constellation/MartinLogan room's file playback equipment was out of service, we were set to move on when Irv pulled out Todd's baroque LP. That's what you heard. We have permission from MA Recordings (Todd Garfinkle), Chesky Records (David Chesky), Sasha Matson, Yarlung Records (Bob Attiyeh), and John Atkinson to play clips of their music without concern for copyright infringement. We went with John's a lot of time due to sheer familiarity.

When we shot video in my music room, Jana did not have access to high quality microphones, let alone the binaural gear. That music was dubbed in afterwards.

Art will need to verify, but I have no reason to question that the LPs he played were recorded right there. That's the whole purpose of the binaural mike set-up. I applaud Art for ditching the dorky hat.

Vade Forrester's picture

Jason, thanks for the detailed explanation, but what I really wanted was to know the resolution of the files transmitted over the Internet, the ones I heard in my headphones, not the original file resolution. Why? I wanted to know the quality of the sound I actually heard. If they were converted to a low resolution file for transmission (e. g., MP3 or equivalent), I would not be hearing the same quality sound you heard in person. Sorry if I was not clear about that.

Vade Forrester
Reviewer, SoundStage! Network and The Absolute Sound
My words=my thoughts.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I am not our web monkey - Jon Iverson is - but I will ask him.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

From Jon Iverson: Yes, [the resolution] is somewhat limited by youtube - the files start out as 16/48 wav files all the way to the video, but depending on the reader’s bandwidth, YouTube will compress the signal. FWIW, I usually process these binaural audio tracks for Jana and do not add any compression at all, though I sometimes adjust the gain staging so that the tracks are consistent in level.

FredisDead's picture

Art; Since you had the O/96's in your former home and the O/93's in your new with the same associated equipment, would you please comment on any sound differences between the former in a bigger room and the latter in the smaller? Do you feel that they lean towards a wooden tonality (as one of your colleagues commented) and do you hear any slight anomaly in the upper midrange where the woofer hands off to the dome tweeter?
Irrespective of that, thanks for the great video. You have always gravitated toward simplicity in your system and there is something fitting in downsizing and being empty nesters and maintaining the simplistic approach. I am biased-I own DeVore O/93's (though the remainder of my system is not nearly as simplistic) but imo the O/93's are beautiful in their simplicity. People who judge with their eyes and make judgments based upon driver material are missing out.

RH's picture

Back in 2015 Art had written that he'd bought the review pair of Devore 0/96s.

Can Art tell us (or anyone who knows, tell me) what happened to them?

I' surprised he didn't mention why he has the 0/93s in this video instead of his 96s? Should we infer from this the 0/96s weren't working in his new room, overblown bass or whatever? (Having auditioned the 96s and 93s recently, I found the bass to sound very similar).

???

FredisDead's picture

RH-by any chance are you "Prof" on another board? Since Art is either preoccupied with something else or not inclined to talk about comparisons (I asked the same question above and it has gone unanswered), I think the O/96's were on loan and replaced with two different models of Altecs. I have no doubt whatsoever that the O/96's would not integrate well with Art's new room, with out-of-control bass. The bass may sound similar, but the O/96 with it's more powerful woofer, greater efficiency and higher cabinet volume will, for a given output, produce more bass. And as you (assuming you are also "Prof") noted in your own room, certain speakers visually overpower a room due to their size. The O/96's would have likely stood out in Art's room too, though not nearly as much as the Valencias.
To change the subject only slightly, with all past loudspeakers in my system, once I discovered short-comings, I couldn't help let them slowly gnaw at me. With the O/93's, I don't at all mind the slight perceived notch in the upper midrange.

RH's picture

FredisDead,

Thanks for the input.

Yes :-)

Art's 0/96s may have been on loan for a while, but he wrote in 2015 that he actually bought the 0/96s. If the Altecs actually replaced them, I never saw Art mention this (and I'd think it would be mentioned by Art). Though I certainly may have missed this event, which was why I was asking.

What you say about the bass/size issues with the 96 certainly may be the case, but I'd be very curious if that could be confirmed by Art.
But I suppose he's no longer monitoring the thread.

JennMartin's picture

Contrats on the new home. I truly hope that we can meet up sometime, play a little guitar, and talk of nerdy things. Still miss you in Fretboard Journal. Go Second Viennese School!
Jenn

shayes001's picture

Art, Herb and Jana - Well done video and really enjoy seeing Art's gear and room! I trust you still have your TD124, Art? Our dog, Koda, doesn't always listen to headphones. But when he does, he prefers Sennheisers.

Aleko's picture

What a musically involving system!

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