Art Dudley Listening

Sort By: Post Date | Title | Publish Date
Art Dudley  |  Sep 27, 2016  |  39 comments
They don't make 'em like they used to.

That aphorism has few fans among people shopping for cancer drugs, contact lenses, GPS receivers, and laptop computers, all of which seem to get better with each passing year. Hell, even I know that.

It earns a more positive reply from anyone who's shopping for an oriental rug, or a fly rod, or a tweed jacket, or a musical instrument—people who will tell you that their fond response to the market for vintage examples of such goods is motivated by two things: older products were better made than their newer counterparts (better designs, better materials, better manufacturing techniques), and some, if not all, of those products, over time, actually improve with use.

Art Dudley  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  21 comments
Keith Aschenbrenner, proprietor of Auditorium 23, based in Frankfurt, Germany, has long been associated with the people and products of Shindo Laboratory: From the early 1990s until the EU's 2006 implementation of the RoHS 1 regulation, which banned the sale of various old-style electrolytic materials—and thus most of Shindo's products—Auditorium 23 was the brand's European distributor and, arguably, one of its most empathetic and enthusiastic retailers worldwide. Throughout that time, and continuing through to today, Aschenbrenner has also worked as a designer and manufacturer of Shindo-friendly ancillaries and loudspeakers.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 17, 2016  |  7 comments
I'm a progressive who enjoys the company of his conservative friends, a Catholic who's thankful for his atheist friends, and a carnivore who cherishes his vegetarian friends. I'm also a vintage-audio enthusiast who loves his audiophile friends who aren't so inclined—so I was doubly happy to see, in the September 2016 edition of Michael Fremer's "Analog Corner," a hearty endorsement of Ortofon's latest SPU: a 58-year-old phono-cartridge design that, like the coelacanth, continues to thrive despite expectations.

Mikey is a longtime friend who harbors no love for vintage phonography—yet after playing his first record with the new SPU #1E ($659), he wrote: "I immediately, and much to my surprise, got what the SPU cult is all about."

Art Dudley  |  Dec 22, 2016  |  11 comments
On a bright, warm day in September, at the memorial gathering for our colleague Wes Phillips, I overheard John Atkinson, in pre-ceremony conversation, discussing men's fashions: "What's popular these days," he said, with a degree of puzzlement that stopped short of disapproval, "is very long hair on just the top, with nothing on the sides and back." Then he added, this time with disdain, "What I don't understand is this trend where men wear dress shoes without socks—which I have actually seen!" The fact that we were in Park Slope, Brooklyn—the very jaw of the hipster possum—may have triggered his observations, which I overheard while chatting with Stereophile alum Laura LoVecchio. I remember reflexively looking down at my own ankles, to make sure I was wearing socks. I was.
Art Dudley  |  May 22, 2004  |  First Published: May 01, 2004  |  0 comments
"As I was saying before I was interrupted..."—Jack Paar, 1918-2004
Art Dudley  |  Jan 24, 2017  |  3 comments
My first attempt at writing this piece began with a list of the Top Ten Audio Products I Wish Were Still in Production. Unfortunately, that proved unworkable. Although some of my selections—the Audio Research SP-6C preamplifier, the Stax ELS-F81 loudspeaker—were straightforward, it turned out that most of the others were burdened with complications. Examples: It's no longer feasible to mass-produce Bakelite headshells for a revival of the original Ortofon SPU or similar phono pickup. It's no longer possible to obtain the precisely correct vacuum tubes and other components required to return to production the Leak Stereo 20 amplifier. And I'm certain that a torch- and pitchfork-wielding mob would prevent the manufacture of an authentic Altec 604B drive-unit, unless those audio villagers were first allowed to "improve" the design.
Art Dudley  |  Feb 21, 2017  |  7 comments
In contrast with such line-level source components as DACs and CD players, record players generate a lower-voltage signal that requires extra gain from either a standalone phono preamplifier or the phono stage of another, more comprehensive component in one's system—typically, a full-function preamplifier or an integrated amp.

But when the phono cartridge of choice is a moving-coil (MC) type, which generates even less voltage than its moving-magnet (MM) and moving-iron (MI) friends, even more gain is required. This presents the user with an additional choice: he or she can select from among the many standalone phono preamps that offer sufficient gain, or augment an existing phono or full-function preamp or integrated amplifier with a phono step-up transformer, which boosts gain passively, without using tubes or transistors.

Art Dudley  |  May 04, 2017  |  11 comments
The first time I saw Thomas's Sandwich Size English muffins on the shelves of my local supermarket, I thought, This is it: the English muffin has now been perfected, and I need never buy another kind. I bought a four-pack—their awesomeness is so potent that to supply them in greater quantities would apparently be dangerous—and prepared one the minute I got home.

It was awful. In particular, it was impossible to toast just right: it was too thick, too doughy, just plain too big. I had learned a valuable lesson: Talking myself into wanting something isn't a good enough reason to actually buy it.

Art Dudley  |  May 30, 2017  |  8 comments
There was a fight. And when the fight took a turn for the worse and things began being broken and thrown, it was time to leave. Not later. Not soon. Now.

Which meant he had to get as much stuff downstairs and out to the curb in as few trips as possible. Clothes and a few treasured paintings and photos were musts. LPs were left behind and written off. (Too many to haul, too difficult to choose just a few.) Likewise, the amps and turntables were written off—someday there would be others. And the loudspeakers, in their custom-made one-off cabinets, were over 5' tall: might as well try moving the refrigerator out of the apartment. Twice.

Art Dudley  |  Jun 27, 2017  |  20 comments
Sometimes I feign interest in living in the Soviet Union of the 1950s and '60s. This happens mostly when I'm shopping for toothpaste at my local supermarket, where the toothpaste aisle is as long as a football field. "I don't want so many choices," I say in my Abe Simpson voice, "because all these choices are stupid. I wish I lived in the USSR: Shopping for toothpaste wouldn't take so long." But I'm only kidding.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 27, 2017  |  2 comments
How can you tell a classic product from the hi-fi hoi polloi? One sure sign is when third-party developers spring up around the thing, offering parts and service intended to maximize its performance—or just to keep it on the road. Thus regarded, a few true classics emerge: Quad's ESL and ESL-63 loudspeakers. Altec's 802 and 806 compression drivers. The Linn LP12 and Garrard 301/401 turntables. The Rega RB-300 tonearm and its direct descendants.
Art Dudley  |  Aug 24, 2017  |  5 comments
In January of 2014, some of us wondered if the sudden death of designer Ken Shindo would spell the end of the company he founded in 1977: It was hard to imagine Shindo Laboratory being led by anyone but its founder, a former Matsushita engineer who made it his life's work to study not only the designs of audio's golden age, but to learn the sound of every vacuum tube, every passive part, every circuit variation that he might reasonably press into service.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 05, 2017  |  6 comments
A place in the country: everyone's ideal.—Bryan Ferry, "Mother of Pearl"

Even at full strength, my family didn't need 3000-plus square feet of living space, let alone four acres of outdoor frolicking space, much of it wooded. But in 2003 that's precisely what we bought, partly because our deal fell through on another, very different house, partly because living next to a dairy farm was an appealing novelty, and partly because the hill on which the house is poised seemed defensible. On our very first morning in our new home—a Saturday in early June—we awoke to gunfire and puffs of smoke coming from the field below our hill.

Art Dudley  |  Jun 19, 2004  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments
A grainy film is said to exist that proves the viability of a mechanical antigravity device. The inventor, a native of Syracuse, New York named Harry W. Bull (footnote 1) placed his so-called "bootstrap machine" on a bathroom scale, focused a borrowed home movie camera on the dial, powered up the machine, and watched as the numbers spun backward. This event, and the development work that led to it, were the basis for a series of articles—and a subsequent exchange of heated letters—in Popular Science magazine. The year was 1935.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 10, 2004  |  First Published: Jul 01, 2004  |  0 comments
All the world, even you
Should learn to love the way I do
—Bryan Ferry, "Take a Chance with Me"

Pages

X