Deaf audiophile, a moving story

This needs an introduction, hold on. There are many reviewers of audio equipment in magazines on the Internet as well as on paper. But very few of them transcend the all too common audio speak of distortion, coloration, truly amazing, impressive, betters the competition, etcetera. At Stereophile, a magazine I wrote for from 1988 to 2005, there were two: Sam Tellig and Art Dudley. Tellig used to write a querulous column called The Audio Cheapskate in which he took a look at very affordable but promising products. His writings were entertaining and educative but most of all they showed how much fun he had in conveying his opinions. I always read his column first and regretted when he retired in 2015.

But it took a certain concentration to read the articles written by Art Dudley, because of their unusually literary style. He never took off like “Last week when I…” or “Audio Note launched its first…”. Instead, a cryptic anecdote or contemplation often took half a page in his “Listening” columns before slipping seamlessly onto the point of that month’s contributions. His articles were next on my list and I frequently reread them, in silent admiration. Dudley was more an author than a writer, maybe I should say an artist. He died, rather unexpectedly, in April 2020.

Also in his choices of equipment was Art Dudley different from most of his colleagues. Distinctive were his love affair with his idler-drive Garrard 301 and his strong preferences for flea power amps and high-efficiency loudspeakers. After his death one pair of these loudspeakers, the Altec-Lansing Flamencos, eventually landed with Bob Lichtenberg. 

Now Lichtenberg (64) suffered from loss of hearing from the age of 5, and was stone deaf at 8. Lichtenberg had nevertheless become an audiophile and a devoted reader of Dudley’s columns. He has hundreds of LPs as well as a complete quality stereo system, and is now very happy with Dudley’s Altecs.

So how does he listen to music? Well, he discovered that when holding a large thin-wall balloon between his hands the vibrations caused by the sound waves from his system could find their way to the auditory part of his brain. He developed this aptitude over the years to such an extent that he is able to hear differences between cables in his set. He sways with the music, and taps his feet. He loves Muddy Waters, Grateful Dead and John Coltrane. 

As a tribute to Art Dudley and to the remarkable abilities of Bob Lichtenberg, Stereophile made a beautiful and truly moving video portrait of Bob Lichtenberg after he acquired Art’s Flamencos. Highly recommended.

Peter van Willenswaard