Art Dudley

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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  |  Oct 24, 2017  |  28 comments
Dear Reader,

Not long ago, I lost patience with coffee.

Before that, I'd never quite made it to coffee-nerd status, but I had all four wheels on the onramp. A few years ago I got rid of my cheap coffeemaker and switched to a French press, because it was more hands-on. I started buying whole beans instead of ground coffee, and grinding them in the store's grinder, on its coarsest setting. When that wouldn't do, I bought an inexpensive electric coffee grinder. When that wouldn't do, I bought a manual grinder.

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