Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Week: Pt 1 - The Early Years

It gets asked a lot in the forums, "Can anyone recommend some good books on audio?" So I thought we'd devote a week of posts to the topic. Back in the dark days of the 1980s when I was getting my start print materials were all we had. True there were some forums on USENET but hardly anyone was connected in those days, especially high school students looking to learn about pro audio. So we relied on a few trusted tomes and the rest we picked up from propaganda advertisements from the manufacturers.

 The very first audio reading I ever did was the good ol' Radio Shack catalog. I wasn't much into comic books, so I'd hide under the covers with my flashlight poring over adapters and cables and whatnot. (I was a weird kid, but so were you so shut up.) Eventually I was at a point where I owned some gear and wanted to build speakers. That was when I got my first book, borrowed it from the library I think, about building small speaker projects. It really wasn't a huge help to me because it had a ton of math in it and I'm not the sort of sound guy who wants to bury himself in equations.

Shortly though a friend turned me on to the Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook. It was a good deal over my head at the tender age of fourteen and that was a good thing. Nearly every chapter caused me to have to run to the dictionary or encyclopedia to get myself up to speed. I even had to hit up the physics teacher a couple of times.

There are many other books on the market these days but this one has hung on. I don't know what edition they're up to but it's been updated at least a couple of times since I first read it in about 1989. It does a good job getting you through the basics of things like sound waves moving through air, amplifiers, basic equipment and even some more advanced methods and techniques. While it's not the book I use to bring new volunteers into the fold, it's still a pretty good starting point even after all these years.
So Brethren of the Knob and Fader, what books have helped you with your understanding of the arcane world of audio? Send us your pics and we'll get them up later in the week.

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