The Guru speaks: Steven R. Rochlin

Professional Reviewer Questions

1. Without giving the standard "weakest link" or "synergy" answer, what would you as the most important component?
The listening room and how the loudspeakers interact/placement.

2. How did you cross over from hobbyist to professional writer?
Insanity has its privileges ;) Simply was tired of answering the same questions over and over in the early days of the Internet so made a web page many years ago on CompuServe (Mosaic and the CE Audio board anyone... or BBS).

4. Is the sound often simply different and not better?
Sometimes different, at times better, or worse. As an example, remember reviewing the very impressive Maggie 3.6 for Ultimate Audio magazine. Sure they were fast and clean, BUT they lacked the physical feeling of moving air i feel during live acoustic musical performances. My then Avantgarde Acoustic Uno did better is some ways, not others. In the end i did not buy the Maggie 3.6, though admit they did have advantages over the then Uno.

5. Do you have a clear metal image of great sound or does it require constant renewal? Are you in AB hell?
Hell is usually of one's own making. As a musician I have years of experience, though it is skewed, per se, as being a performer is different than being a member of the audience. Attending various live events over the many years does indeed help... FYI: most recent was at the MET in NYC for Valentine's Day (La Boheme). But if you REALLY want to open a can of worms. Do ANY of us REALLY know what a recording REALLY should sound like? Gosh, feel like the Oracle on the Matrix here, yet even if one attended the LIVE performance that was recorded, the possible coloration of the mics/placement and other gear can indeed color the actual music on the recording. And (to really open one's eyes) if said colorations are on the recording yet one's system reproduces the live performance they attended 'perfectly' versus the recorded version, then that means your system has reverse colorations of the recording method/gear (think RIAA encoding/decoding here). So ask yourself... do ANY OF US ever REALLY know?

6. What do you "hate to admit"?
That I hate reviewing gear. Would rather just sit back and enjoy the music. Think of it as the difference between when I am having fun with jam sessions versus being a paid studio musician.

7. What to you think is that "special something" is that makes some systems sound so good?

9. The constant evaluations and power listening must be very hard. How do you keep it fresh?
Enjoy live music all around the world. Oh the memories of music during my visits to Venice at various churches... If you ever get a chance to visit Venice i can highly recommend it!

10. What are some of the secret terms you use to lets us know the component really is not as good as it could be?
Secret? If I hate it, you'll know.

11. Someone recently said, "All SS amps not driven to clip sound the same". Do all SS amps sound the same?

13. When you get cornered at a party, what is the question asked most often?
How much I paid for the car. My answer is decades of hard work. If you mean audio-wise, most folks ask about Bose and the like. Now HERE is where being a VERY careful diplomat is key. Sometimes men and egos... well...

14. How much should we envy Sea Cliff, really?
Envy? Please explain. Is this some place where only G-d/Jesus or some other form of miraculous event(s) happen exclusively that can not be achieved anywhere else in the world? Have never been to Sea Cliff, though do admire parts of America, Italy, France, Brazil, Asia...

15. What is the best listening experience you have ever had (other than live)?
Growing up hearing music through dad's 1969 Tannoy 12-inch Gold Monitors in custom cabinet. Maybe it is akin to ALWAYS loving "mom's cooking?" Hope that makes sense.

17. Have you ever been wowed by a $500-$1000 system?
Yes, remember it well. House of Stereo in Jacksonville (Florida)about 15 years ago. A pair of Maggies hooked up to some Yamaha gear. Hmm, perhaps it was over $1,000.

20. So, which is it, tubes or SS?

21. What does the future hold for audio?
My apologies, for linking here, though please see: The Future of Music.

Again, hope the above helps. Of course in he end what really matters is that YOU . . .

Enjoy the Music, Steven R. Rochlin

Steven R. Rochlin is a writer for on-line magazine.

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Copyright: Peter J. Smith 2005 Return to