Art Dudley

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Art Dudley  |  Jun 19, 2018  |  40 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.
Art Dudley  |  May 12, 2018  |  5 comments
Friday's weather was no less spectacular than Thursday's—yet from the moment I arrived there, the MOC was mobbed with attendees who weren't at all bashful about spending the day indoors. Perhaps the interior sunniness of the glass-and-steel structure helped: I would certainly chafe at spending such a beautiful day roaming the dark halls of some glum hotel.

Whatever the reason, I couldn't shake the impression that a lot of audio enthusiasts didn't show up for work on Friday.

Art Dudley  |  May 11, 2018  |  54 comments
Scheduled to ship in early autumn, the Hegel 590 ($12,000) is poised to become the Norwegian company's new flagship integrated amplifier. With a power supply 50% larger than that of Hegel's previous top-of-the-line integrated (the H360), the 590 operates in class-AB, delivering 301Wpc. Driving a pair of KEF Blade loudspeakers (ca $30,000/pair), a pre-production Hegel 590 sounded amazing—a really good sense of musical drive, plus a tonal balance that was neither dull nor overly crisp—on a digital file of Shelby Lynne performing the Nick Cave song "Into My Arms."
Art Dudley  |  May 11, 2018  |  0 comments
Everything you've heard is true. Lufthansa really is among the world's finest airlines. (I say that as an uncomfortable and often unwilling traveler who has had nothing but perfect flights on Lufthansa), Munich is one of the cleanest, most attractive, and most easily traveled cities in Europe. And Munich High End is, without a doubt and by a stunning margin, the greatest audio show on Earth, period. Nothing I could say—nothing—can prepare you for the sheer scale of the venue, the number and variety of exhibits, the quality of those exhibits, and the exciting, carnival-like vibe of Munich High End: It must be experienced.

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