The Guru speaks: Doug Schneider

Professional Reviewer Questions

1. Without giving the standard "weakest link" or "synergy" answer, what would you as the most important component?
Speakers make the biggest difference, although you can still make substantial gains with other components.

2. How did you cross over from hobbyist to professional writer?
Started an online publication.

3. Review superlatives often give the impression of "huge gains". How do you reconcile years of "huge gains"? Are they still that big?
The important thing is to only say something's huge if it's huge.

4. Is the sound often simply different and not better?

5. Do you have a clear metal image of great sound or does it require constant renewal? Are you in AB hell?
It's more of a "know it when you hear it" thing.

5a. How long does it take before your know how good a product is?

6. What are your audition strong points and weak points, i.e., what problems do you find most difficult to pick up in listening tests?
What do you "hate to admit"? Extraordinarily subtle differences.

7. What to you think is that "special something" is that makes some systems sound so good?
I don't think there is a "special something." In fact, I don't know what it is.

8. How much of the process is collaborative versus on your own?
It's collaborative because in any good publication there's an editor.

9. The constant evaluations and power listening must be very hard. How do you keep it fresh?
It's not that hard.

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?
I don't use any.

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

12. Which components are peaking in the sense that you no longer have to spend a lot to get great sound?
Potentially, everything. You can buy great speakers, a great source, and a great amp for very little money. Of course, you *can* get better for more.

13. When you get cornered at a party, what is the question asked most often?
Am I married or single.

14. How much should we envy Sea Cliff, really?
I don't at all. From what I know, my place is way better.

15. What is the best listening experience you have ever had (other than live)?
About 15 years ago -- Apogee Stages driven by ML 20.6 mono amps with an Aragon DA up front and a Wadia transport.

16. Without blaming engineers, where do you think the most loss in sound quality occurs, live to listener?
With too much processing between recording and final product.

17. Have you ever been wowed by a $500-$1000 system?

18. How much in analog is really the "Zen" of analog versus true accuracy of reproduction?
Quite a bit, although analogue does have a special something.

19. Will we ever find the Holy Grail in sound reproduction?

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

21. What does the future hold for audio?

Doug Schneider is a writer for SoundStage on-line magazine.

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Copyright: Peter J. Smith 2005 Return to