Art Dudley

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Art Dudley  |  Dec 06, 2018  |  30 comments
Although my house is now home to a borrowed pair of DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeakers—a loan I gratefully accepted early this year, when my 1966 Altec Flamencos proved a bit too large for my new listening room—it's a matter of pride that I own almost everything else in my playback system, cables included. So it's with no small discomfort that I acknowledge having nearly $30,000 worth of borrowed phono cartridges scattered around my living and dining rooms. (The former is where I listen to them, and the latter—the sunniest room in the house—is where I install them.)
Art Dudley  |  Nov 29, 2018  |  12 comments
The stars lined up.

According to biographer Charles Reid, the British conductor Sir John Barbirolli "burned with Elgarian zeal," attributable in part to Barbirolli's participation, as a young cellist in the London Symphony Orchestra of 1919, in the premiere performance of Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. That performance, conducted by the composer and with Felix Salmond as soloist, was a disaster—Elgar's rehearsal time had been cut short by a lack of cooperation from another conductor on the bill, a slight the composer never forgave—yet from then on, the 19-year-old Barbirolli regarded Elgar's music with reverence.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 21, 2018  |  43 comments
Since fake news is on everyone's minds these days—I would say it's been in the news a lot, but that kind of reasoning is too circular even for me—it's worth keeping in mind that there's also such a thing as fake praise. You see it every day, whether it's a fake Google review—an alarming number of businesses seem unaware that real people don't actually say things like "the team at New Hartford Chevrolet really listened to all of my needs"—or fake trophies handed out to all 20 co-captains of your child's soccer team.

Then there are fake awards.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 07, 2018  |  3 comments
"I've got six hours to get ready for 30 hours of show time so an attendee can listen for 10 minutes." Thus did Doug White, proprietor of the Philadelphia-area dealer The Voice That Is, describe the challenge of setting up a system for a show such as Capital Audiofest. (When I asked, Do you use a spectrum analyzer?, White said Yes, and smiled and pointed to his brow.) The results of his expertise—no other word for it—were in full flower in a system that, though far from humble, featured the least expensive loudspeakers I've heard in a TVTI system: Tidal's Vimberg-series Mino ($29,000/pair).
Art Dudley  |  Nov 06, 2018  |  7 comments
I began my Sunday morning at Capital Audiofest with a portion of one of Malcolm Arnold's jaunty overtures: not quite sacred music, but it was nonetheless magnificent in the room sponsored by Gryphon Audio and retailer 20/20 Evolution Systems. In addition to having appropriate weight and realistic die-away, the sound of mallet on bass drum had the most tonally realistic thud I recall hearing through a hi-fi. And on a CD vinyl drop of the mono version of Mal Waldron's "Warm Canto," the unison piano, cello, and double-bass notes in the opening measures had realistically tactile note attacks—likewise Ron Carter's pizzicato cello solo, which was very moving, appropriately so.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 05, 2018  |  18 comments
Of the three systems I heard at CAF 2018 that had been assembled by retailer Tenacious Sound—I think there were eight in all—the one that sang through a pair of TAD ME-1 loudspeakers ($14,995/pair) was the most impressive. I requested some Richard Thompson, and my guitar-pickin' friend Lenny Mayeaux, whose day job is with manufacturer Audience AV, put on "Vincent Black Lightning." It was sonically wide-open—the system would not have wanted an atom more treble, but it was smooth and fine and inviting just as it was—and musically soul-refreshing: I almost cried. (If he had played "Beeswing," I surely would have.)
Art Dudley  |  Nov 04, 2018  |  5 comments
Listening to music in the Emia Labs room was one of those moments when I was reminded of how very little I know—that and how distressingly easy it has become for me to acclimate to different levels of audio goodness when confronted with different levels of build quality and design ingenuity. Earlier in my first day at Capital Audiofest 2018, I had heard other things I had thought were very good—and they were, in their way. But listening through the Emia system to recordings I know well—especially LP reissues from the Electric Recording Company, which co-sponsored the Emia room—was an experience far in advance of most.
Art Dudley  |  Nov 03, 2018  |  5 comments
By the time I arrived in Rockville, MD—a personal commitment kept me away until around 2:00pm on Friday— Capital Audiofest 2018 was already in full swing, with brisk traffic in the halls of the Rockville Hilton, and standing room only in some of the exhibits.

My first stop was the room sponsored by a new loudspeaker manufacturer called IMC Audio...

Art Dudley  |  Oct 30, 2018  |  24 comments
I have flip-flopped between these points of view: that some audio products or technologies are better suited than others to specific styles of music, and that any good product or technology should be equally at home with rock'n'roll, chamber music, large-scale classical, hard bop, techno, ragas—even George Crumb.

At age 19, in my first job as a hi-fi salesman, I was asked to adopt the first of those views. The shop I worked in carried only two loudspeaker lines—EPI and Ultralinear, both long gone—and the owner urged me to push the former on lovers of classical music, and the latter on rock fans. So I did. To paraphrase Jiang Qing, I was the shopkeeper's dog: What he said to bite, I bit.

Art Dudley  |  Oct 25, 2018  |  18 comments
I've never aspired to owning a BMW 7-series, or a Martin D-45, or a Rolex Submariner: BMW's far less expensive 3-series models capture my imagination by bordering on the affordable, likewise Martin's D-18—and as long as I live, I'll never understand the appeal of expensive wristwatches. Bling's not my thing.

True to form, when I visited the Mytek display at High End 2018, in Munich, my attention was drawn to the brand-new Mytek Liberty DAC and its three-figure price: for $995, one could now own the equivalent of the original Mytek Brooklyn D/A processor, without that model's phono preamp—this according to the company's Adam Bielewicz, who served as my product-line guide on that sunny May day.

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