Art Dudley

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Art Dudley  |  Aug 16, 2018  |  38 comments
Some of my reviewer colleagues would have you believe that negative reviews are the most difficult of all to write, and that positive reviews fairly write themselves. What nonsense!

As I write this, my copy deadline is three days away, yet I've succeeded at crafting little more than my heading (easy enough: it's just the product's name, followed by my name) and my Associated Equipment sidebar (also easy), leaving a great expanse of nothing in between. That's mostly because the Kalista DreamPlay One, a two-box CD player whose $43,000 price might once have kept me from even considering it as a real-world product, has stunned me into a sort of paralysis: I feel that anything I write will be inadequate to the task.

Art Dudley  |  Jul 26, 2018  |  10 comments
The Emitter II Exclusive integrated amplifier, from German manufacturer ASR Audio (footnote 1), challenged my idea of what I could expect from a solid-state amplifier and my thoughts of what might be the best amp for driving a pair of Quad ESL loudspeakers—revelations that were more or less inseparable. After hearing my friend and former neighbor Neal Newman drive his own ESLs with a ca 1975 sample of the Quad 303—a solid-state amplifier rated at 45Wpc into 8 ohms—and after my experiences, in 2016, driving my ESLs with a borrowed sample of the 18Wpc, solid-state Naim Nait 2, I began to think that Quad-friendly transistor amps are easier to find than their tubed counterparts.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 19, 2018  |  4 comments
Record players and the average consumer enjoy an on-again/off-again relationship—happily, at this moment in time, it is very much on—but to high-end audio enthusiasts, the turntable has endured as an object of near-talismanic importance. I think that's not only because the turntable continues to give us so much pleasure, but also because it seems so understandable—at its simplest, it's just a motor and a rotatable platter, attached to a board that also has some provisions for fastening a tonearm. End of story. Who among us has not, at one time or another, considered the lot of the turntable designer and thought, I could do that?
Art Dudley  |  Jun 19, 2018  |  53 comments
In the rural home in Cherry Valley, NY that my family and I inhabited from 2003 to 2017, we had dirty water but clean electricity. Evidence of the latter was seen in the results of tests performed by a technician from the local utility, National Grid—I told him I intended to do commercial sound recording on site, which was close enough to the truth that I considered my sin venal rather than mortal—and heard in the sound of my playback system, which rejected as superfluous or worse all of the AC-conditioning products I tried there.
Art Dudley  |  May 22, 2018  |  4 comments
In the early 1960s, young people who were anxious see the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show had to first sit through a seeming eternity of bad comedians, bad puppet shows, and acrobats spinning dinner plates to the tune of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance. So it is here: Before I can get to the Miyajima Saboten L phono cartridge, I have to report on something I left out of my April 2018 column, which was devoted to Zu Audio's modification of the classic Denon DL-103 cartridge. And since this is information I've been holding on to for almost a year, I suppose I also left it out of my August 2017 column, which was devoted to the MusiKraft Audio's own modification of the Denon DL-103.
Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2018  |  30 comments
Six weeks ago, Jana Dagdagan and I visited the Peekskill, New York factory of Soundsmith—her first time there, my second. Although I didn't mention this to the company's President and Chief Engineer, Peter Ledermann, the thing that most impressed me during my second visit was how little had changed since my first, in April of 2015. In particular, all but two of the employees I saw at Soundsmith this year had been there during my first visit; that suggests an experienced workforce—no small advantage in the manufacturing of phono cartridges, where the requisite skills are specialized, to say the least—a setting where people feel sufficiently challenged and appreciated that they stick around for years rather than mere months.
Art Dudley  |  May 17, 2018  |  3 comments
I've been looking at this all wrong.

My recent informal survey of ca $10,000 CD players has been based on two assumptions: that the people reading those reviews would be looking for their last-ever CD player, and that such a purchase would require Serious Money.

In addition to such things as the best available design and parts, the most luxurious enclosure, and the utmost in reliability, Serious Money is presumed to buy durability of value: Any appliance that costs $10,000 today had damn well better be worth more than nothing in five or ten years.

Art Dudley  |  May 15, 2018  |  3 comments
2018 marks the 100th year of business for Danish cartridge manufacturer Ortofon A/S—the actual birthday is October 9th—so it came as no surprise that Ortofon's head of product development, Leif Johannsen (on the right in the photo above, next to Lou Dorio of the company's American subsidiary, Ortofon Inc.) cooked up three special, limited-edition products to celebrate the milestone: the anachronistic and ostensibly DJ-friendly moving-magnet Concorde Century; the ultra-high-end MC Century; and the cartridge that most appealed to me, the SPU Century (estimated price: €5000).
Art Dudley  |  May 15, 2018  |  4 comments
Since Herb Reichert and I were booked to fly back to New York on Sunday, Saturday was to be my last day at High End 2018—which is to say, Saturday was my Sunday: a day of moving along smartly, covering as many rooms and booths as possible, and listening only briefly.

Wouldn't you know it that my first stop of the day, at the room sponsored by German loudspeaker manufacturer Zellaton, was one that discouraged drive-by reporting…

Art Dudley  |  May 14, 2018  |  7 comments
Reminders were everywhere that the High End show, which takes place in a 30,000-square-meter convention center, differs from the hotel-centric North American norm in its preponderance of silent displays—silent, but seldom inconspicuous. A fine example was the room occupied by the 33.3-year-old Danish firm Gryphon Audio Designs, which used the occasion to display their 93.5"-tall, 2002-lb (net weight), twin-tower Kodo loudspeaker system (price on request). The Kodo—which, when I visited, enjoyed tremendous popularity as a selfie prop—is a four-way design, specified as reaching from 16Hz to 25kHz.

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