Art Dudley

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Art Dudley  |  Mar 27, 2019  |  11 comments
At the Montreal Audio Fest, Graham Audio's North American distributor, On A Higher Note, brought along the British speaker manufacturer's latest variation on the BBC-monitor theme: the LS5/9f ($US7995/pair in oak, as shown), described as a floorstanding version of the BBC-designed LS5/9 stand-mounter. According to On A Higher Note's Philip O'Hanlon, seen above, the LS5/9f was created by Derek Hughes, the son of the founders of Spendor (themselves once a BBC licensee—this is slightly complicated). Hughes reportedly intended the extra cabinetry to support the speaker without adding to its internal volume or otherwise altering the essential LS5/9 sound.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 26, 2019  |  28 comments
The world's a place of horrors
Because each man thinks he's right
—Loudon Wainwright III

As a teen, I loved spending time in musical-instrument shops. Now, with exceptions, the experience is reliably depressing.

Last Saturday was exemplary: I walked into my local supermarket of sound to buy a set of guitar strings, and was at once assaulted by the racket of two gunslingers trying to outshoot each other. Combatant No.1, a fiftysomething male with an elaborate dye job, had hold of a new Martin dreadnought acoustic guitar, on which he aggressively demonstrated his repertoire of Stephen Stills licks.

Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2019  |  7 comments
A few years ago, the Hotel Bonaventure (formerly the Hilton Bonaventure), long the site of the Montreal Audio Fest (formerly Salon Son et Image), turned its sprawling restaurant into a sprawling ballroom called the Ville-Marie salon. For the 2019 Montreal Audio Fest, that room was home to Focal Naim Canada (formerly the distributor known in Canada as Plurison, and in the US as Audio Plus Services.) Daniel Jacques (on the left, with me, in the photo above), who founded Plurison/Audio Plus in 1983, has now sold that company to Vervent Audio Group, which owns Focal and Naim; those brands, including a few others—namely IsoAcoustics, Cambridge Audio, Musical Fidelity, Siltech, Vicoustic, and Solid Tech—will now be handled in Canada by Focal Naim Canada, and, with the exception of Cambridge, in the US by Focal Naim America, also a Vervent subsidiary.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 24, 2019  |  6 comments
I suppose I'm odd man out for not liking Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, which has sold over 45 million copies since its release in 1973 yet for me remains a monument only to the hazards of excessive marijuana consumption. Too bad for me: On Friday, the sounds of that album blasted from what seemed every third demonstration, and by the time I approached the door of the room sponsored by Montreal retailer Son Ideal, I was hearing DSOTM for literally the fourth time since the show opened. Quiet desperation, indeed.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 22, 2019  |  6 comments
At 1:00 on Friday I spoke with Sarah Tremblay (above), co-organizer (with Michel Plante) of the Montreal Audio Fest. The 2019 show had opened only two hours before we ran into one another, and already over 4600 attendees had pre-registered and 1400 of them had arrived on-site. (Admission is free, but the organizers ask of each attendee their name and gender, and whether they'd attended previous Montreal shows.) Tremblay told me that approximately 50% of registrants so far were first-timers: an excellent sign.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 19, 2019  |  8 comments
The late Julian Vereker, the sharp-minded former racing driver who founded Naim Audio and designed its first products, did so because he wanted audio amplification of a quality he felt no one else was making at the time, reasoning that if he wanted such a thing, so might others. Thus came about Naim's first domestic-audio product, the distinctive NAP200 solid-state amp (1973).
Art Dudley  |  Feb 19, 2019  |  9 comments
Easy pickup: Art’s Dog, Chatter, cozies up to Leif Johannsen of Ortofon A/S and Dee Hustinova of Ortofon USA. (Photo: Art Dudley)

According to the 2018 edition of the UN's World Happiness Report, Denmark is the third-happiest nation on Earth, trailing only its neighbors Finland and Norway.

I heard that yesterday afternoon, on NPR. The reporter even spelled out the word used by Danes to describe their feelings of happiness: hygge. Apparently, at present, Denmark is positively rotten with hygge.

Art Dudley  |  Feb 07, 2019  |  4 comments
Peter J. Walker (1916–2003), founder of Quad Electroacoustics and designer of some of the most well-regarded products in the history of domestic audio, famously believed that a properly designed audio-frequency amplifier should have no sound of its own. As for suggestions that his Quad II amplifier (1953–1971) sounded better than most, Walker was unmoved: "We designed our valve amplifier, manufactured it, put it on the market and never actually listened to it."
Art Dudley  |  Jan 24, 2019  |  39 comments
To audio designers in Japan and elsewhere, the single-ended, 300B-tubed amplifier is like a haiku: an art form defined by both its prescribed limitations and the potential such restraint offers for artistic expression. Here, the only hard-and-fast rule is a simple one: output devices are limited to one 300B directly heated triode tube per channel. From there, it's a blank slate: Do you want AC or DC on the output-tube heaters? Tube or solid-state rectification? Low or high gain? Fixed or cathode bias? New parts, vintage parts, or a mix of both? Triode or pentode tubes as drivers? Capacitors or transformers—or nothing at all—between the plates of the driver tubes and the grids of the output tubes?
Art Dudley  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  46 comments
Among the many bits of audio lore that never have and probably never will be aired in public is the story of the amp that ignited the reviewer's curtains. (I assume that at least some of you hoped I was going to say "pants.") I can't tell it in any great detail, partly because the reviewer in question is a friend (though not a Stereophile colleague), and I'm not sure how much of the story he wants out there. In any event, my object here is to offer a long-overdue apology, to all concerned, for having laughed at that story over the years, because it has now happened to me—not the part about the curtains, but definitely the part about the burning amp.

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