Art Dudley

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Art Dudley  |  Nov 06, 2017  |  3 comments
Pros: Tactile, clear, colorful, and remarkably spacious sound; beautifully made gear
Cons: Audiophile music, audiophile demonstration protocol.

The sound in the room that featured the Daedalus Apollo 11 speaker ($22,800/pair), a selection of tubed electronics from ModWright, and cabling by WyWires was superb: detailed without sounding etched, and pleasantly liquid and warm, with good texture and a really great, spacious sense of scale. On top of all that, the gear from both brands is gorgeous: as rich and colorful in appearance as in sound.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 05, 2017  |  53 comments
I began the second half of my Friday in the room sponsored by Tone Imports and Connecticut dealer Old Forge Studio, enjoying a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. In the former category was the enduringly recommendable PTP Solid 12 turntable (2950 Euros, available direct) from the Netherlands—a cleverly refurbished idler-drive Lenco with a smart Corian plinth...
Art Dudley  |  Nov 04, 2017  |  46 comments
Perhaps you've heard this before, but it bears repeating: Veteran exhibitors and attendees alike have a great deal of loyalty and affection for this seven-year-old show and its busy founder, Gary Gill. I was reminded of that during my very first stop on day one of Capital AudioFest 2017, when Kevin Hayes of VAC described the reasoning behind the decision to assemble such a large, expensive, and distinctly ambitious playback system: "In light of the move to this time of year, we wanted to help Gary and the show by doing something exceptional." The result: a system built around the mighty Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 11 loudspeaker ($295,000/pair), powered by two pairs of VAC's Statement 450 iQ monoblock power amplifiers ($120,000/pair).
Art Dudley  |  Nov 02, 2017  |  10 comments
By no means could I undertake a survey of candidates for Your Last Perfectionist-Quality CD player—so far, my ongoing series of reviews has focused on models from Audio Note, Bryston, EAR, Luxman, and Metronome—without including Naim Audio. After all, it was Naim that brought to market the first really good-sounding CD player of my experience: the two-box CDS, introduced in 1991 at a then-staggering price of $6999. In doing so, they convinced me that a digital future might not be so bad after all.
Art Dudley  |  Oct 24, 2017  |  28 comments
Dear Reader,

Not long ago, I lost patience with coffee.

Before that, I'd never quite made it to coffee-nerd status, but I had all four wheels on the onramp. A few years ago I got rid of my cheap coffeemaker and switched to a French press, because it was more hands-on. I started buying whole beans instead of ground coffee, and grinding them in the store's grinder, on its coarsest setting. When that wouldn't do, I bought an inexpensive electric coffee grinder. When that wouldn't do, I bought a manual grinder.

Art Dudley  |  Oct 05, 2017  |  8 comments
A place in the country: everyone's ideal.—Bryan Ferry, "Mother of Pearl"

Even at full strength, my family didn't need 3000-plus square feet of living space, let alone four acres of outdoor frolicking space, much of it wooded. But in 2003 that's precisely what we bought, partly because our deal fell through on another, very different house, partly because living next to a dairy farm was an appealing novelty, and partly because the hill on which the house is poised seemed defensible. On our very first morning in our new home—a Saturday in early June—we awoke to gunfire and puffs of smoke coming from the field below our hill.

Art Dudley  |  Sep 19, 2017  |  13 comments
We got our wish. Phonograph ownership is once again depicted as commonplace, even hip, in popular films, TV shows, and ads for other products. Turntables and LP jackets show up in photos in Elle Decor and Vanity Fair. New LPs are sold in stores in nice neighborhoods, and in malls with Cinnabon franchises and J.Crew stores. A shockingly high percentage of new record releases in which normal people are interested, and a few in which they are not, are now available on vinyl. For the first time in decades, I receive occasional gifts of new LPs—presumably because they're once again easy for nonenthusiasts to find and to buy—and the very few CDs I've received in the past few years have been homemade.
Art Dudley  |  Aug 24, 2017  |  5 comments
In January of 2014, some of us wondered if the sudden death of designer Ken Shindo would spell the end of the company he founded in 1977: It was hard to imagine Shindo Laboratory being led by anyone but its founder, a former Matsushita engineer who made it his life's work to study not only the designs of audio's golden age, but to learn the sound of every vacuum tube, every passive part, every circuit variation that he might reasonably press into service.
Art Dudley  |  Aug 15, 2017  |  12 comments
I'm a thirty-year-old puppy doing what I'm told And I'm told there's no more coal for the older engines,"—Andy Partridge, "Train Running Low on Soul Coal"

"[We] know the truth of this: We would likely live happily ever after with a system from nearly 60 years ago. An idler-drive turntable, some Marantz electronics, and Quad ESL-57s can be very satisfying. The main improvements to be made are not necessarily in the area of musical enjoyment, but rather boring old reliability."

Art Dudley  |  Jul 27, 2017  |  3 comments
How can you tell a classic product from the hi-fi hoi polloi? One sure sign is when third-party developers spring up around the thing, offering parts and service intended to maximize its performance—or just to keep it on the road. Thus regarded, a few true classics emerge: Quad's ESL and ESL-63 loudspeakers. Altec's 802 and 806 compression drivers. The Linn LP12 and Garrard 301/401 turntables. The Rega RB-300 tonearm and its direct descendants.

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