What Hi-Fi (UK)
BEST BOOKS ABOUT HI-FI
The best books to improve your hi-fi knowledge
e are glad people still enjoy reading about hi-fi; it keeps us in a job, after all. There have been plenty of insightful words committed to paper about our industry and the technologies, brands and history that define it, and here, we’ve listed some of our favourite books. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the subject, we hope there’s one for your coffee table on this page.
WTHE ART OF IMPOSSIBLE:
THE BANG & OLUFSEN DESIGN STORY (2016)
Considering Bang & Olufsen’s commitment to style and design, it’s little surprise their books are so nicely presented that you feel you should wear silk gloves to turn the pages. A behind the scenes look at B&O’S philosophy, illustrated by an impressive collection of sketches and photographs, The Art Of Impossible is an ode to the company’s landmark products, from its early creations in the 1930s to the Beolab 90, and the design principles and people behind them.
REGA: A VIBRATION MEASURING MACHINE (2016)
Few people are better placed to talk about turntables than Rega founder Roy Gandy. His thesis on hi-fi turntable engineering, A Vibration Measuring Machine, is an entertaining and informative read, taking us from the company’s humble beginnings in 1973, when Gandy and Tony Relph (hence Re-ga) began making turntables in their spare time, to the engineering principles involved in turntable design.
PRINCIPLES OF DIGITAL AUDIO (2010)
Currently in its sixth edition, professor emeritus Ken C Pohlmann’s definitive guide on digital audio is a crucial read for those interested in the academic side of sound engineering. A thorough explainer on everything from conversion and compression to transmission and coding, it has served as a reference book in the industry for more than three decades.
LOUDSPEAKERS: THE WHY AND HOW OF GOOD REPRODUCTION (1948)
Audio technology has advanced dramatically over the past five decades, but the fundamentals of speaker design haven’t changed that much, which is why this book is still relevant more than 70 years after it was written. The first book, written by Gilbert Briggs, who founded Wharfedale in the 1930s, is an introduction to audio: a primer on the principal theories of loudspeaker design, covering everything from magnets, cones, cabinets and baffles to impedance, frequency response, crossover networks and phase.
KEF – 50 YEARS OF INNOVATION IN SOUND (2011)
A beautifully written (and photographed) record of KEF’S first five decades, released to celebrate the company’s half-century in 2011, 50 Years documents the history of one of Britain’s most iconic hi-fi brands. Co-authors Dr Andrew Watson, former head of acoustics at KEF, and hi-fi journalist Ken Kessler trawled through the vast archives to tell the brand’s story. Comprehensive listings of every KEF product, including drive units, are included too.
QUAD: THE CLOSEST APPROACH (2003)
Another definitive guide on one of hi-fi’s most iconic brands, again written by Ken Kessler, this time celebrates Quad, one of Britain’s oldest and most innovative hi-fi companies. This beautifully illustrated coffee-table tome covers the company and its classic products. It features words from company founder Peter Walker, as well as reproductions of AES technical papers and, of course, Quad’s famous ads.
THE PRODUCER’S MANUAL (2011)
If you want to know how a recording should sound, it’s good to have some understanding of what goes on in the studio. Paul White’s The Producer’s Manual is a starting place for those who want to learn about everything from compression to microphone techniques – covering everything you need to take a mix from the initial recording to final master.
HIGH PERFORMANCE LOUDSPEAKERS: OPTIMISING HIGH-FIDELITY SYSTEMS (2018)
An encyclopaedic lowdown on loudspeaker design and performance from a designer’s point of view, High Performance Loudspeakers is engineer and design consultant Martin Colloms’ magnum opus. First published in the late 1970s, this book’s seventh edition incorporates up-to-date analysis on compact systems and DSP integration, as well as musings on recent technological advancements.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO HIGH-END AUDIO (2015)
Robert Harley, editor-in-chief of Absolute Sound, channels his three decades of experience into almost 600 pages of advice on how to make the most of high-quality hi-fi. It covers topics such as how to set up and tweak your system – starting with the basics and getting more comprehensive as each chapter goes on. Its fifth edition includes the more modern aspects of music consumption, such as streaming, wireless networking and hi-res downloads.