Books!


I realized that all of my other hobbies - cooking, biking, photography, brewing, have plenty of books written about them, and I in turn have many of them. Listening to my stereo system is probably the hobby I spend the most time with yet have absolutely no books on the subject. So I ask of you, what are the essential books? 
I will l note I’m more interested in the “how to listen” flavor versus the super super technical end of things. Ideally it would be a nice mix of both, how a and b leads to this, and how c and d leads to that and later on I could get more into the engineering side. Also would be interested in historical context reads. Lastly I would like recommendations that are actually published in book form. Look forward to your responses.  Thanks all! 
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For classical, try The Symphony, For the Love of Music, and The Concerto, all by Michael Steinberg. The NPR Listener’s Encyclopedia is a huge, but handy guide with recommended recordings. The encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues is a bit out of date due to artists dying off, but aside from that, the info is accurate and it is excellent. You can usually these used on Amazon and other book sites. Hope this helps, I’d love to hear other folks chime in on this. 

Modern Recording Techniques by David Miles Huber, 9th edition.

The book is written for those seriously looking into the studio recording industry but I’ve found a wealth of information in there.

My sons book I pretty much took over.

“How to listen can be a difficult one” but you know how to listen ;-)

But you will find ear training on page 450

And Hello
The Complete Guide to High End Audio, by Robert Harley, is exactly the book you seek. It covers the subject so well that even my first edition now nearly 30 years old still covers so much it is hard to believe. The book is beautifully organized in a way that helps you understand not only exactly what each component does but why and how, and even helps with system building advice.   

One of the best parts of the book for me is the section on how to listen, what to listen for, and a glossary of terms to describe what you are hearing. As strange as this might seem but it turns out to be very hard if not impossible to hear things you do not have words for!   

I don't know about the latest editions but in my first edition he compares learning to listen critically to learning to read an x-ray. In both cases everyone knows enough to sort of be able to tell what is going on. But the more you learn the less the x-ray looks like a lot of shades of gray. After you learn a lot of physics, anatomy and pathology eventually the flat x-ray looks almost 3D and you see so much more. This made a lot of sense even before I became an x-ray tech. Now I can say for sure he is right on.   

Highly, highly recommended!
Get Better Sound - Jim Smith

How Music Works - David Byrne

Enjoy the journey…
Great thanks to everyone thus far, lots to dig into!
My favourites include:

Sound Bites: 50 years of Hi-Fi News by Ken Kessler

Ken’s travelogue never fails to captivate each time I return to it.



A Pair of Wharfedales: The Story of Gilbert Briggs and His Loudspeakers by David Briggs

A great historical read. Plenty of good photographs and an even handed tone. G.A.B. himself would have been pleased.



Sound Reproduction by Gilbert Briggs

An almost ancient tome in 2021 but rarely, if ever, have the fundamentals of audio been written with such clarity.


Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms by Floyd Toole.

This one’s more educational, and I’ve only read the 2nd edition, but there’s a lifetime of knowledge in these pages.
In thee area of historical context I would recommend "Putting he Record Straght" the autobiography of John Culshaw.  For the younger generation, JC joined Decca Records in 1946 and served as it's foremost producers of classical music through 1967, when he left Decca and ended up at the BBC.  He was instrumental in assembling Deccas recording team for classical music as well as producing many of the greatest Decca recordings of that era.  His autobiography is not a technical account but does provide a fascinating look at the growth and development of the record industry from its infancy to becoming a multimillion dollar industry.  Topics include the birth of stereo recordings, personal recollections of artists of the time (HVK, Solti, Pavarotti, Neilson. Ansermet, Kubelik and others), and the economics and politics of producing recordings.  This book may be difficult to find but is definitely worth finding/reading if classical recordings are of interest to you.
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In addition to books, consider studying the liner notes on the backs of your LPs and/or the inserts that come with your CDs. Lots to learn there. 

 

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