Art Dudley & Co. and the Virtues of Vintage

from left to right: Art Dudley, Robin Wyatt, Jonathan Halpern, and Herb Reichert

Stereophile's Editor-At-Large Art Dudley did a wonderful job hosting a panel discussion titled Virtues of Vintage: Audio Gear from the Early Days of High Fidelity. Panelists included Robin Wyatt of Robyatt Audio, Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports, Herb Reichert one of my favorite writers on hi-fi, and Jeff Dorgay of Tone Audio Magazine. The first half of the 1-hour session consisted of Art asking the panelists questions and the second half opened up the Qs to the full to overflowing crowd.

One of my favorite moments came when Herb Reichert responded to a question from Art that I don't recall but he answered that many people (i.e. audiophiles), perhaps because of the influence of magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound, appear to listen to music played over a hi-fi with a mental check list in mind. Ticking off various sonic elements like bass response, soundstage, etc. seemingly keeping them distanced from the actual music being made. By contrast, Herb pointed out that when he was writing about hi-fi, people listened for things like color and texture, elements of music-making. Art reminded the audience that Herb once designed an amplifier he called the "Flesh & Blood" putting a fine point on Herb's point.

Why was I covering a panel discussion on Vintage Hi-Fi you may very well ask? One reason is I own some, including a 1967 pair of Altec Valencias (Art wrote about his pair in the current issue of Stereophile), and an old Voice of Music tube tuner. The other reason is I've long felt that our hi-fi hobby tends to have too short a memory. The audiophile curse of the endless upgrade being one of its worst symptoms and by learning that some things, like turntables, loudspeakers, and tuners from decades past, can still offer a musically satisfying experience is one cure.