Art Dudley

Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2019  |  34 comments
It's a toss-up: The house where my family and I lived for 15 years was bigger than the one we have now, and had a much nicer view. On the other hand, we now live in a less economically depressed region, as suggested by the relative scarcity of inflatable lawn decorations. During the last year I saw in my neighborhood far fewer leprechauns, reindeer, Easter Bunnies, purple-and-green Draculas, and turkeys wearing pilgrim hats (which makes about as much sense as Russian soldiers wearing lederhosen). I find those things unspeakably sad, because they're horrible, cheap, gaudy wastes of money.
Art Dudley  |  May 21, 2019  |  9 comments
Audiophilia is nothing if not nostalgic—in fact, it's doubly so. Listening to recorded music is an act of looking back, often with the hope of re-creating some wistfully recalled wonder. On top of that, the zeal to perfect the playback experience, whether by means of better-quality recordings or better hardware, is far less common than it used to be among middle-class consumers. Although in recent years our pastime has surprised with its resilience, we're surely nearer the immolation scene than the Prelude to Act I.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 30, 2019  |  13 comments
There's a noise I make when I'm having trouble with something inanimate: a deep, growly huff that starts in my diaphragm and comes out in one or two quick, staccato bursts. I huff this huff when I drop a tool or can't budge a seized bolt or the bottom falls out of a trash bag. It annoys my family and scares my dog.

I made that noise at least a half-dozen times while installing and setting up the Wand, a unipivot tonearm designed and manufactured by Design Build Listen Ltd., in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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  |  31 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.

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