The Validity of Doug's Sonus Faber Olympica III Review

To Doug Schneider,

I have just read your review of the above speaker. All very fine but your actual examples were not real music, not real live music. So your comparisons are actually completely invalid.

Sorry, but I get tired of reading reviews where there is never a single example of comparison to a real live musical instrument. How can you know how good a speaker is if you don’t compare it with the real thing? No amplifiers, no speakers, no electronic processing.

How about a symphony orchestra or a string quartet? They are live and they don’t use amplifiers and speakers, etc.

Best wishes,
Richard Goulden

In some ways I agree with you, but in other ways I don’t. While audio systems should be able to faithfully reproduce the sound of acoustic instruments in live settings, they must also be able to reproduce electronically amplified instruments, purely electronic instruments, and, oftentimes, sound effects as well, particularly if they’re going to be used for movies. Furthermore, even spare recordings of unamplified instruments in a live setting won’t all sound the same, whether that’s due to acoustics of the venue, the placement of the microphones and instruments, the equipment used to record, or something else. Granted, these simpler recordings are usually more natural sounding than most modern studio recordings where plenty of processing usually goes on. Still, no recording will sound exactly like actually being in the venue. As a result, there’s no actual recorded reference that can be truly used as a baseline -- the recording process, regardless of how elaborate or simple it might be, changes the original sounds in some way. For these reasons, I think a variety of music is best. It must also be music you know really well.

That said, I agree with knowing what the “real thing” sounds like and what I like to use is for reference is the human voice, which is why many of my musical selections have singers prominent in them. Why voices? From a very early age, we all learn what voices sound like. Think about it: a voice is one of the first sounds a baby hears after being born. Therefore, someone who listens to a stereo system, regardless of whether he or she is an audiophile, knows if it sounds realistic or not. . . . Doug Schneider