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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2017 0 comments
There’s already one good bit of news out of the 2017 Montreal Audio Fest, which begins at 11am today and runs through 5pm on Sunday: reconstruction of the interior of the show’s longstanding venue, the Hotel Bonaventure—a project that was in full, noisy swing during last year’s show—has now been completed, restoring the Bonaventure’s glory in general and its superb bistro/watering hole in particular. It was there that I enjoyed a short pre-show encounter with the audio-industry luminaries pictured above (L–R): Jeff Joseph (Joseph Audio), Doug Schneider (Soundstage.com), Keith Pray (Stereophile), Meredith Gabor (Nordost), and Mat and Harry Weisfeld (VPI Industries).
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2017 2 comments
What better way to start an audio show than with live music? With that in mind, one hour before the official start of the 2017 Montreal Audio Fest, Canadian distributor Plurison hosted, in their capacious display room, a too-brief performance by cellist Vincent Bélanger and singer-pianist Anne Bisson. They performed a few selections from their new LP Conversions—a project that was sponsored by Lily Luo and cable manufacturer XLO.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 22, 2017 9 comments
On March 16, audio manufacturer Luxman Corporation, now in their 92nd year, announced the establishment of a new US subsidiary, Luxman America: the first time in 30 years that the Japanese tube-amp specialist has had a corporate-owned presence here.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 14, 2017 12 comments
On March 13, May Belt of PWB Electronics announced via e-mail that Peter W. Belt, the company's founder and her husband of many years, passed away on February 17. He was 87.
Art Dudley Posted: Feb 23, 2017 7 comments
I wouldn't normally begin a review of an imported product with generalities about the culture from which it sprang, but this isn't just any imported product. It's a Scandinavian loudspeaker, and Scandinavian speakers are subject to a different and altogether more liberal set of rules.

For one thing, because they tend to be healthy and well educated, and because their governments are at peace and, for the most part, economically and politically sound, Scandinavians can take a joke. For another, Scandinavians are famous for not only having a loudspeaker industry—something that has thus far eluded Spaniards, Corsicans, Ethiopians, and the Maltese, among others—but also for the distinctiveness of the speakers they make. Like the Scandinavian people themselves, their speakers are intelligent, serene, uncompromising, outwardly serious and inwardly whimsical, outwardly tidy and inwardly complex, and a bit quirky.

Art Dudley Posted: Feb 21, 2017 5 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 Posted: Feb 02, 2017 13 comments
In Stereophile's January 2016 issue, I began a series of reviews of $10,000 CD players and transport-DAC combinations: an informal and serial survey, the goal of which was to gather, over time, the likeliest candidates for one's Last CD Player Ever. My choice of $10,000 as the target price was more or less arbitrary, although, in retrospect, that's about what I've invested in my go-to combination of turntable, tonearm, and pickup head—so, who knows? Maybe my subconscious was acting out.
Art Dudley Posted: 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 Posted: Dec 27, 2016 6 comments
In 1999, when I first heard a Super Audio Compact Disc, I felt certain that the new format was destined for commercial dominance. Ten years later, when I first played PCM music files through a USB DAC, I felt certain that the SACD was deader than Julius Caesar's dog.

In 2016, it's apparent that I'm not qualified to predict how anything will perform in the marketplace. In my defense, I'm not the only industry bigwig who's made those mistakes; on the other hand, one happily notes that technology and commerce, those inseparable sweethearts, carried on anyway, heedless of our thudding wrongness. The results are hundreds of new SACD releases, scads of new downloadable Direct Stream Digital music files—DSD being the technology on which the SACD is based—and at least one new machine that can play them both: Luxman's D-06u SACD/CD player and USB DAC.

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Art Dudley Posted: 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.

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