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Kudos to Art Dudley

70.91.92.17

Posted on September 16, 2016 at 12:03:59
Salectric
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Art Dudley's column in the October Stereophile "The Virtues of Vintage" is one of his best. He does a great job of describing how the sound of some vintage speakers, ones dating back to the 1940s and earlier, is unequalled by modern speakers. Along the way, he also manages to work in some comments on vintage mandolins, fly fishing rods and rugs. A very good read.

 

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RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 16, 2016 at 16:16:01
fantja
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AD has real writing talent. I like his articles as well.

 

I like him, too, but, posted on September 17, 2016 at 08:18:24
mhardy6647
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he's 'preachin' to the choir'.

I think folks either "get" vintage loudspeakers -- or they don't.

I doubt that many folks are likely to have their opinions swayed by any amount of well written, well-reasoned expository prose.

That said -- I get 'em.

DSC_5735

And I like Art's writing, and I miss "Listener"... and I am fortunate enough, in the past couple of years, to have gotten to know one of Art's erstwhile partners-in-crime, Bruce Kennett, in actual, real life.

(about as close to name-dropping as I can get in hifi, I'm afraid)



all the best,
mrh

 

RE: I like him, too, but, posted on September 17, 2016 at 18:40:15
hahax@verizon.net
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But his reasons for liking older speakers, the linear dynamics and palpability, can also be characteristics to look for in modern transducers. In fact they are my main values in reproduction. And some modern designs do a good job too making the choir a bit bigger.

Adding the virtues of the old to the virtues of the modern would make a heck of a speaker.

 

RE: I like him, too, but, posted on September 19, 2016 at 06:39:12
horn kid
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I don't hear modern designs that equal some of the old designs in a broad array of sonic characteristics. And I find that dynamics are not really a strength of any modern design other than those that essentially mimic the designs older horns.

It's not just dynamics or "you are there presence" that old designs excel at...along with the dynamics and presence the best old designs have a naturalness that new speakers do not, a sense of ease, a "directness" of the sound, that I just cannot find in newer speakers, and at this point I do not care. I'll just live with those vintage speakers that sound more like real music to me.

 

Dynamics, posted on September 19, 2016 at 10:14:47
Salectric
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I agree with you about dynamics. Vintage speakers, at least some of them, have effortless dynamics and this is a big factor in my opinion in why they sound so much more real than modern speakers.

What vintage speakers do you have in your system?

 

RE: Dynamics, posted on September 19, 2016 at 15:00:11
fantja
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Only a very few, could ever top newer designed speakers.
Both drivers and cross-overs have come a long way.

 

RE: I like him, too, but, posted on September 20, 2016 at 20:28:19
hahax@verizon.net
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I agree with you in general. I was friends with Gordon Holt and he agreed with you too. His last personal speakers were active ATC speakers because he felt they provided a lot of what you are talking about. And there are a few others I'm sure. I think my own speakers do it well too but they are semi custom with a SEAS small 2 way design and a custom woofer done by the designer of the small speakers. so in a sense they don't qualify.

 

RE: Dynamics, posted on September 20, 2016 at 20:29:36
hahax@verizon.net
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In smoothness and flat response and bandwidth, yes. But not in linear dynamics so much with a possible few exceptions.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 21, 2016 at 16:32:46
throwback
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Art. Plus 1. Plus 2 other observations.
1. Excerpt from an email I sent my old friend, Kemper Holt, after the Capital Audio Fest.

"I wanted to review two listening experiences that are somewhat linked. The first was at Capital. The exhibitor was Deja'-Vu. The system was very old: a pair of Western Electric tube amps driving an equally old (bass reflex?) speaker I don't even know the name of. I don't remember the cartridge either. I just know it wasn't a new $10,000 jobby. Wow! I was reminded of that sound when I went to hear a classical quartet here in town.

The spec I believe we are missing when we talk about audio, is "aliveness." One reason it isn't a spec is because engineers haven't figured out a way to make it one. But boy, is it important. The cello I heard last week was alive. It was almost overpowering. It filled the room and asserted itself with every bow-stroke. It growled and was full of the most exquisite texture. It was enveloping. Even on my system, the cello doesn't sound like that. But it sounded a lot closer to that at Deja'-Vu. . . . I go to lot of concerts, small and large, from solo recitals to Mahler-sized orchestral performances. I have sung in semi-professional choruses (including the Paul Hill Chorale in D.C.) and I have produced international piano competitions. So I believe I have a reasonably good ear. And that ear is telling me we have a long way to go. And maybe, the direction we need to go is back."

2. You appear to be as in love with Frost's "Choose Something like a Star" as I am. In fact I wrote a short play about a bunch of high school students discussing this deep, surprising and multi-layered work. If you ask me nicely, I'll send you a copy.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 21, 2016 at 19:32:56
Salectric
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Great observations especially concerning the Deja Vu room at CAF. There was indeed an "alive" quality that was present in that system and lacking in the other rooms even those with ultra-expensive modern gear.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 22, 2016 at 10:43:50
Larry I
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Throwback,

I completely agree with your description of the Deja-Vu room. The liveliness of that system set it well apart from most of the other rooms at the show. The sound was indeed room-filling and HUGE. What is more amazing is that this sense of size and scale was achieved by a MONO system. Yes, there were two speakers in the system, but, the amp driving them was a single mono amp. The amp was built with a lot of old parts, but, it is a completely new design and build by the Italian builder Aldo D'Urso (the person who manned that room most of the time). This is a truly exotic amp that utilizes two mercury vapor rectifiers and WE 271 tubes in a pushpull configuration. The linestage was another Aldo design/build. The speakers are also a very recent build (finished the day before the show), again using vintage drivers and crossover parts. Old school equipment, particularly when reconditioned or repurposed in new builds can be quite amazing.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 22, 2016 at 11:12:04
Salectric
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Thanks for the additional information Larry. I had wondered whether the amp was push-pull or single-ended, so I appreciate the clarification. It's just further evidence that both SE and PP amplifiers are capable of excellent sound. No one topology is best.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 22, 2016 at 16:17:32
thetubeguy1954
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I'm curious what speakers from the 1940s and earlier, do you believe are sonically unequaled by today's modern speakers?


I'm listening to: The Men In My Life by Jackie Allen


Thetubeguy1954 (Tom Scata)

Central Florida Audio Society -- SETriodes Group -- Space Coast Audio Society
Full-range/Wide-range Drivers --- Front & Back-Loaded Horns --- High Sensitivity Speakers


 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 22, 2016 at 17:53:04
Steve O
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I suspect Art is referring to Western Electric direct radiator/ horn designs of the 40s/50s or possibly the larger theater horns of the 30s using the 555 field coil driver. Might also include some Jensen stuff of the same era. I believe he's currently listening to Auditorium 23- Cinema Homage speakers that are based on Chinese reproductions of the 555 and other WE drivers. Review of whatever it is in next issue of Stereophile.

Forgot to mention non-mass market RCA items of the era, usually prefixed with "MI" in the model #.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 24, 2016 at 10:56:47
RGA
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Most systems being touted today as supposed hi-fi (piddly ass standmount with a 6 inch woofer or five piddly 6 inch woofers in an mdf cabinet with a metal tweeter (meh) can't even touch stuff like this from the 70s.

And the great thing about living in Hong Kong and Korea is that one doesn't need to try and "remember" what stuff sounds like - you can compare a modern B&W directly in the same room against an original Matrix series OR a Magico or Giya Directly against an Altec VOTT or classic Tannoy or one of these lovely old JBLS and you can hear quite quickly why people think a lot of modern speakers either outright stink or at the very least lost some charm or the dreaded term "musicality" along the way.

The trouble with terms like better is that it doesn't really exist. A modern very good speakers will have advantages - but that doesn't write off the fact that there are simply "inherent" advantages to any given speaker design approach. A big multiway from 1975 will do things the best single driver speaker today can't do. It's the nature of the designs.

How many pre 80-s systems get 275,000 youtube hits? My only issue with the video is that it would likely sound 50 times better if they got rid of the Mark Levinson mediocrity for a good SE tube amplifier and competent r2r ladder no oversampling CD player - or better vinyl. But so it goes.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 25, 2016 at 09:11:43
A.Wayne
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The ML amps are there to remove Tooby reliabillty issues necessary for everyday playing not to mention the added power necessary to fill a large room and over come the obvious room noise, yep sometimes SS mediocrity is favored over Tooby mediocrity ..

BTW whats with the knee cap listening height or were you thrown off by the ML stuff not to notice ...?

 

Yes, and no .., posted on September 25, 2016 at 14:38:34
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Art does write interesting pieces. I don't buy into his modern life is rubbish perspective but he did pique my interest. Last month we got a think piece only peripherally audio related and this month we get another think piece about stuff he likes. I noted that he could only stay one day at the Bluegrass show, he certainly didn't have to rush home to review some equipment! His productivity is notably lacking compared to his peers.

Regards
13DoW

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 25, 2016 at 18:47:38
RGA
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Tweeters at ear level? Low seats in Japan?

Reliability issues? I presume you have some sort of statistical evidence that tube amps are less reliable, other than "tubes are hot so the amplifiers fail more."

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on September 26, 2016 at 05:17:03
A.Wayne
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Take your tooby amp there when you go and ask them to use it , report ....

 

Lasyt I heard he was using, posted on September 26, 2016 at 15:37:41
kavakidd
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Altec Lansing Valencia (mini VOTTs?). I DO have fond memories of Dad's Altec 604s driven my MC-30s. Big & Bold but memory is often faulty after so long a time
"Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to" Mark Twain

 

Yup - his columns are often nothing more than geezer nostalgia [nt], posted on September 26, 2016 at 15:49:00
Chris from Lafayette
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RE: Lasyt I heard he was using, posted on September 26, 2016 at 20:33:05
Steve O
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He has stated his reference system contains Altec Valencias, possibly with mods and Devore Orangutan O/96. He also stated a few issues ago that he was listening to something from Auditorium 23, possibly the Cinema Homage w/repro WE mid/hf drivers. Full review forthcoming. I notice he now lists the Auditoriums as part of his reference system although not on the recent recommended components list so I suspect he's going to be writing a lot about them very soon. I also suspect these speakers may be the inspiration for his recent vintage enthusiasm. BuhBye Valencias?

 

Agree, he writes boring girly man fluff!, posted on September 27, 2016 at 18:32:11
RedM
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NT

 

I would add ..., posted on September 28, 2016 at 06:24:30
Jim Austin
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... the room looks and sounds too lively, especially given the size. Hard to imagine getting really good sound in there. Easy to hear the echo. Beautiful space though.

 

RE: I would add ..., posted on September 29, 2016 at 05:25:23
horn kid
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Art has mentioned some great sounding old equipment that really have virtues. However, it seems he has fallen in love with some old equipment that simply cannot stand up to today's, especially in the turntable field. I know, I own the old turntables he talks about, totally restored, and they just can't compete. Sometimes I feel he has fallen in love with certain pieces due to nostalgia, the undeniably classic and cool looks of some of these pieces, and the fact that he worked on them or restored them himself.

So, like all reviewers, you have to take the statements with a grain of salt. Trying gear yourself is the only way against the best in the field is the only sure way, though it is difficult and expensive.

 

To be clear, posted on September 29, 2016 at 06:22:42
Jim Austin
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I was referring to the room in the video.

 

RE: To be clear, posted on September 30, 2016 at 10:23:41
horn kid
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Ah, yes, Jim. Without treatment, that just cannot be a good room. With treatment, no problem.

 

You do realize a cafe will have people in it , posted on October 2, 2016 at 14:28:43
I know audiophiles are lonely types so hard to image listening to music with a group of people. People absorb sound.

 

RE: You do realize a cafe will have people in it , posted on October 2, 2016 at 17:45:54
Jim Austin
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>>People absorb sound. <<

Some more than others.

That's a cafe? Looks like someone' very nice man cave.

 

Newly Open Jazz cafe Audio system by Kenrick sound nt, posted on October 2, 2016 at 18:00:51
nt

 

RE: You do realize a cafe will have people in it , posted on October 3, 2016 at 05:10:05
horn kid
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Kloss wrote:
"I know audiophiles are lonely types so hard to image listening to music with a group of people. People absorb sound."

That's funny, and an astute observation about audiophiles. We could share some thoughts on this and have a good laugh, I'm sure.

 

RE: You do realize a cafe will have people in it , posted on October 3, 2016 at 14:58:30
BubbaMike
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Yes people absorb sound, can you imagine going to a concert with a hall full of people? Yuck.
When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it. ~ Bernard Bailey

 

its people , posted on October 3, 2016 at 15:27:37
Occupied seats are factored into sound of most venues-

 

RE: "Some more than others.", posted on October 4, 2016 at 06:53:54
Ivan303
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Yep!



 

AUdiophile solution: lots of full size silicone sex dolls around the room..., posted on October 5, 2016 at 10:03:51
Then no need for actual human beings. With a dozen silicone full size sex dolls in the room.

 

RE: Yes, and no .., posted on October 5, 2016 at 10:48:01
mkuller
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...I've always said he's the best audio writer about stuff I have no interest in.

 

Yes, but, posted on October 5, 2016 at 13:17:53
Frihed89
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The ones you speak about are mainly 3+-way speakers with very unfriendly load characteristics.

 

Just because it is new, doesn't mean it is better, posted on October 7, 2016 at 19:56:45
Ross
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Art is onto something, and I am glad that at least one mainstream (for this hobby) publication treats vintage components as viable alternatives. Sure some DIY is needed, but for some that is part of the fun.

I use a mix of old (well not as old as Art's stuff) and reasonably new components, and I have recently begun to experiment with 35-40yr old phono cartriges. It is very possible to create a great system, that delivers realism, palpability, scale etc using vintage components.

Consider that there are more than a few audiophiles that think we have not advanced very much if at all from:

Quad ESL pr
Mac C22/MC30 or Marantz 7/8b
Thorens 124 or Garrard 301
SME Arm and SPU cartridge

Many of us would love to own such a system.

Art spent some time highlighting the WE 755a. This is the very same speaker used as a mid/tweeter in the AR1. One of the best combos of the golden age was an AR1 combined with a Janszen 130 Electrostatic tweeter array. Some recent hobbyists run the combo with external crossovers so that the 755a runs full range, and the AR woofer/Janszen tweeter runs only at the frequency extremes.

SOTA isnt what its cracked up to be.

Best,

Ross

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on October 19, 2016 at 06:07:29
morricab
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Big Western Electric movie speakers from the 30s are tough to beat. Always one of the best sounds at the Munich show year after year.

 

RE: Kudos to Art Dudley, posted on December 11, 2016 at 07:54:57
Schlep
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Hi All -

Since an apparent void in the market exists, why doesn't a manufactrer fill it? Seems old technology, materials, circuit designs would be easy to replicate or at least serve as a jumping off point design something even better with what has been learned in the past several decades.

Maybe I am missing the point - is it the actual age of the equipment that makes it better (kind of like a vintage guitar or something similar)?



Craig

 

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