Art Dudley

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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.

Art Dudley  |  Sep 25, 2018  |  6 comments
Those concerned that audio engineers on the whole are a meek lot, drawn to our hobby for its lack of physical mayhem, have clearly never met Jeffrey Jackson. The last time I saw him, he was wielding a rock the size of a small gravestone, applying it to the lock on a recalcitrant door in a series of blows that made me fear for the very fabric of reality. That this happened in glinty daylight in an industrial park with a steady stream of cars going by merely added to the sense of danger. Those concerned that motorists on the whole are lacking in vigilance would have had their fears confirmed: no one intervened, and Jackson succeeded in gaining entrance to his warehouse and auxiliary listening space.
Art Dudley  |  Sep 11, 2018  |  36 comments
"No one's buying music anymore: They're renting it."—John Atkinson, keynote speech, AXPONA 2018

Streaming music isn't new. US companies have been doing it since the 1920s, when it was discovered that multiplexing—the then-new practice of combining multiple signals over a single conductor—could be used to send live or recorded music over public power lines. The first of those companies was Muzak LLC.

File that away.

Art Dudley  |  Aug 28, 2018  |  12 comments
For this month's column, I did something I've occasionally set out to do but never quite managed: I lived with a new power amplifier for nearly two months, used it to enjoy a variety of records, made scads of listening notes, and wrote most of the subjective portion of my review—all without knowing what was inside it.

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