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Part of “The Editors” series

Magazine title: “STEREOPHILE”
Position: Editor At Large

Published since: 1962
Publication frequency: monthly
Country: USA

tereophile is run by a team of strong personalities. Its journalists have been carefully selected by the chief editor, John Atkinson, in such a way that each one of them covers a section of audio industry with which they feels most at home and love the most. For example: Michael Fremer, whom I interviewed HERE, mainly deals with turntable-related products (he is called an "analog guru") and, until recently, entry level audio products intended for beginning music lovers-audiophiles were covered by Stephen Mejias, whom I interviewed HERE (Stephen has recently become VP of Communications for AudioQuest, and his adventure with "Stereophile" came to an end). Each journalist can move in a wider range than planned, but they rarely go beyond their favorite area. I think that such specialization works well because individual products are reviewed by the people who know a lot about them and, additionally, for whom they are the most important thing in life. One of my favorite journalists is Art Dudley who writes the column Listening. The founder and chief editor of "Listener" between 1994 and 2003, also writing for "Fretboard Journal", he is known for his commitment to vintage products; he gives priority to the passion of listening over selectively treated measurements. As we read in his article from 2013, "Whether the subject is hi-fi equipment, films, restaurants, power tools, or condoms, reviewing should be off-limits to the perennially unhappy." He speaks about this and more in the interview below.

Wojciech Pacuła: Tell us something about yourself – how did your adventure with music start?
Art Dudley: I was raised in a household where music was appreciated and enjoyed. My mother played piano a bit – my parents were able to buy a piano when I was about 10 years old – and they owned a Webcor record player and a few dozen records. I started buying records of my own, to play on it, when I was 10. (My first purchase was the 45 Rpm record of Roger Miller's "King of the Road;" the first LP I bought was the Rolling Stones' first album – which, in the US, was titled England's Newest Hitmakers.)

Did you listen to them on some decent equipment?
Not really – not for a while. But when I was 16 I got a part-time job working in a grocery store, so I had the money to buy an inexpensive stereo, with a small turntable (10" platter, piezo-electric pickup) and a receiver in one unit, and two small, separate speakers. (This was around 1970.) Then, a year or two later, I upgraded to a Sansui AU 101 integrated amp, a Dual turntable, and a pair of loudspeakers that a furniture store was about to discard. And I bought more and more records – mostly folk music and rock ' n' roll.

After that, when I went to college, I got a part-time job at a very small hi-fi shop – and things really took off from there…

I’m not sure if I’m right here but I see you, along with Ken Kessler from “Hi-Fi News,” as the creators of “anachrophile” audio – is that correct?
It is an honor for me to
be considered in such a light – but here I must also give credit to my favorite audio writer, Herb Reichert, whose columns for Sound Practices inspired, in part, my interest in vintage gear.
I must also add that my friend and present-day editor John Atkinson is actually the person who coined the word "anachrophile," which he did back in the 1980s, when Ken Kessler served as his deputy editor on the staff of Hi-Fi News! :-)
Going back to my college days: At the hi-fi shop where I worked, I was allowed to purchase anything in the store for cost plus 10 percent. That applied also to used gear, and one day an older gentleman traded-in a nice old McIntosh FM tuner – mono, of course – and the store’s owner allowed him only a pittance. So, for a pittance and 10 percent, I brought it home. I was astonished at how good and lifelike it sounded, just as I was astonished at its beauty, and its build quality. (I can even remember what it smelled like!) Early in my "career" as an audiophile, I had the sense that our industry was moving backwards.

What are the worst enemies of today’s audio?
There are, in my opinion, two great enemies:
1) We are held back, at every turn, by those who would point to this or that element of design or construction and declare, "That does not matter." To which I usually reply, "Bullshit: EVERYTHING matters!"
Still, we hear it all the time. From manufacturers who say that it doesn't matter what sort of metal is used to make an amplifier chassis. From remastering engineers who say it doesn't matter if an LP is mastered from a digital recording (or mastered using a digital delay). From people who say that high resolution digital doesn't matter, because 44.1 kHz satisfies the Nyquist Theorem. That last one is especially troubling because, when you get right down to it, the Nyquist Theorem simply does not and cannot apply to the decimation and reconstruction of a complex music wave: Two samples can indeed be used to describe a single frequency, but that does not provide sufficient sampling density to describe the velocity with which the wave changes – and that is a key component of the difference between music and mere sound.

2) Our other great enemy is something I call the Tyranny of Frequency Response: an attitude that ignores the fact that there exist many different aspects to playback performance and that, in the absence of gear that does everything well – which does not exist – individual listeners should be free to prioritize those aspects as they wish. Traditionally, audio reviewers have exalted the notion of flat frequency response – or, if you will, the notion of freedom from "colorations" – as being of paramount importance. That may well be true for some listeners, but not for all; the idea that, say, dynamics and impact are of paramount importance is equally valid.
To the person whose musical enjoyment hangs on the thread of "neutrality," a Quad ESL63 is correct and an Auditorium 23 Solovox is flawed. To the person who savors tactile excitement, the Solovox is correct and the Quad is flawed – distorted, even! Both points of view are legitimate.

Do you think that the “Apple generation,” I mean young people with earbuds, will help audio to survive?
Although it pains me to say so, given the low quality of MP3 files and of most earbuds, I believe that the Apple generation already has helped audio survive, just as simplistic films help keep storytelling alive and taking the kids to McDonald's helps keep the idea of the family dinnertime alive.
The thing is, we could be doing better!

What is the worst problem of audio magazines?
Apart from signing-off on the whole Tyranny of Frequency Response thing, I believe that magazines fail their readers most grievously when they fail to note when a product is poorly built or overpriced (or both!).

Which direction will audio go?
Well, I hope that it will go in every direction at once – just like the art of music, which it serves!

What a fledgling innocent audiophile should start with to get a good sound?
A good dealer can be invaluable – but they are not as plentiful as they once were. So while I would encourage any newcomer to visit as many different shops as possible, I would also advise him or her to become acquainted with as many audio enthusiasts as possible, perhaps through Facebook or a local club. In each of those cases, I would recommend that they beware sonic gimmicks – "holographic" imaging, stomach-churning deep bass response, etc. – and simply listen for those products and systems that allow music to sound as stirring and moving as it is in real life. The newcomer, more than any other audio enthusiast, should remember to focus on the music, not the sound.

Is there an interesting new technology you are aware of?
Ultra-sonic record cleaners :-)

What can web-based magazines learn from print magazines? And the other way round?
Although there are a couple of good webzines, I think that most of them are in need of a good editor: someone who sets and enforces reviewing policies; who is very selective regarding both the writing ability and the behavior of their contributors; who understands the value of consistent style (punctuation, usage, grammar, spelling, etc.), and who understands what his or her readers hope to get from each and every piece that is published, and then sets about delivering precisely that.

And now for something different, which recording technique seems most natural to you?
That which suits the music being recorded.
For most acoustic music, a single Neumann microphone is not only sufficient – it is superior to anything and everything else. As for stereo, some of my favorite orchestral recordings were made with crossed pairs, plus the feed from a couple of "spot mics" or "touch-up mics," artfully mixed in. And when it comes to electric music, the desires of the artist and the producer must determine the technology. A lot can go wrong, but when the studio itself is used as an instrument – as part of the artist's palette – the results can be transcendent. Examples include David Bowie's Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, wherein acoustic guitars are mixed as loud as electric guitars, where drums are artfully compressed, and where nothing is actually "realistic," per se, and yet the finished product is moving and enjoyable for what it is.

10 albums you can recommend to “High Fidelity” readers and why?

- Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster, One of my favorite jazz albums (and it sounds great in mono).

- Eric Weissberg, New Dimensions in Banjo & Bluegrass, Elektra – Contemporary bluegrass starts here. Some tracks feature the late Clarence White on guitar.

- Du Pre/Barbirolli, Elgar Cello Concerto, EMI – A recording that belongs in every home. No other version comes close.

- The Move, Message from the Country, Harvest – A wonderful bit of semi-progressive pop, with lots of studio trickery.

- Joanna Newsom, Ys, Drag City – creative songs, with arrangements by Van Dyke Parks..

- Johanna Martzy, Bach - violin sonatas and partitas, EMI – Indispensable. Achingly hypnotic performance, transcendent mono sound.

- Janet Baker et al., Purcell, Dido & Aeneas, L'Oiseau-Lyre – Chamber opera at its best, also in brilliant sound.

- Big Dipper, Craps, Homestead – My favorite record by one of the best bands of the 1980s. Heartfelt and funny. Great sound, too.

- Procol Harum, A Salty Dog, Regal Zonophone – The masterpiece of a sadly underrated band.

- Charlie Parker, New Sounds in Modern Music Vol.1, Savoy – Music that's as physical as it is intellectual, in great, impactful mono sound. Rare.


Analog front-end

  • Thorens TD 124 turntable
  • Garrard 301 turntable in my own plinth, with Auditorium 23 arm mount
  • Linn LP12 turntable
  • EMT 997 tonearm
  • Grado Laboratory tonearm (1960, I think)
  • Ortofon SPU pickup
  • EMT TSD 15 pickup
  • EMT OFD 25 pickup (mono)
  • EMT OFD 65 pickup (mono, 78 Rpm)
  • Miyajima Premium Mono cartridge
  • Miyabi 47 cartridge
  • Hommage T2 step-up transformer
  • Silvercore One-to-Ten step-up transformer
  • Keith Monks RCM
  • Shindo Masseto preamplifier
  • Fi Preamplifier (original)
  • Shindo Corton-Charlemagne mono amplifiers
  • Shindo Cortese amplifier
  • Fi 421A amplifier
  • Croft Phono Integrated amplifier
  • Altec Valencia (1966)
  • DeVore O/96
  • Quad ESL
  • Auditorium 23 speaker cables
  • Shindo silver interconnects (various)
  • Audio Note AN-Vx silver interconnects
Digital front-end
  • Wavelength Proton D/A converter
  • Sony SCD-777 CD/SACD player

The Linn turntable, Grado tonearm, and Fi preamplifier are presently retired from active duty; everything else is used, at least occasionally. The Garrard 301 setup is my go-to source!

BTW, the photos also show an Octave V 40 SE amplifier and a Monks discOvery One record cleaner; I don't own those products – they just happened to be here for review.

As far as records are concerned, some are in the shelves at one end of my room, while others occupy boxes that are scattered all over the house. I think I have about 6000 titles in my collection, including a few hundred 78s, but I don't really know for sure.

In “THE EDITORS” series we have interviewed so far

  • Helmut Hack, “Image Hi-Fi”, Germany, managing editor, interviewed HERE
  • Dirk Sommer, „”, Germany, chief editor, interviewed HERE
  • Marja & Henk, „”, Switzerland, journalists, interviewed HERE
  • Matej Isak, "Mono & Stereo”, chief editor/owner, Slovenia/Austria; interviewed HERE
  • Dr. David W. Robinson, "Positive Feedback Online", USA, chief editor/co-owner; interviewed HERE
  • Jeff Dorgay, “TONEAudio”, USA, publisher; interviewed HERE
  • Cai Brockmann, “FIDELITY”, Germany, chief editor; interviewed HERE
  • Steven R. Rochlin, “Enjoy the”, USA, chief editor; interviewed HERE
  • Stephen Mejias, “Stereophile”, USA, assistant editor; interviewed HERE
  • Martin Colloms, “HIFICRITIC”, Great Britain, publisher and editor; interviewed HERE
  • Ken Kessler, “Hi-Fi News & Record Review”, Great Britain, senior contributing editor; interviewed HERE
  • Michael Fremer, “Stereophile”, USA, senior contributing editor; interview HERE
  • Srajan Ebaen, “”, Switzerland, chief editor; interviewed HERE

    • Pokój Arta, z zainstalowanymi kolumnami QUAD ESL.
    • Pokój Arta, miejsce, w którym siedzi i kącik, w którym pisze.
    • Ukochany gramofon Arta, Garrard 301 z podstawą wykonaną przez Arta, z płytą montażową dla ramienia Auditorium 23.
    • Na zdjęciu widać zdziwionego Arta, przyglądającego się dziwnie wyglądającym stożkom fazowym kolumn bazujących na przetwornikach Lowthera.
    • Kolumny Altec Valencia na podstawkach.
    • Naprawdę nie pamiętam, skąd w mojej łazience znalazła się mapa Irlandii!!!