We used the second edition of this book when I was an undergraduate studying music theory. I loved that book and have always had it on my shelf as a reference for correct transpositions, ranges, and all the little things one needs to know to write correctly for an instrument. When I read through this edition I was simply blown away. You know how you can get attached to an older edition and not want to give it up because the improvements don't overcome the familiarity? Well, the sixth edition clearly obsoletes my trusty old friend.
The book still has the same general format in considering each family of instruments together and has all the good information of the previous editions. However, there is more information, better photographs, improved explanations, well chosen examples, great suggested readings, listenings, and assignments. And the included CD has over 90 short examples of the sounds any orchestrator needs to have in his or her mind when putting pen to paper (or pointing a mouse to the staff on a computer). The first few dozen are different versions of the same two measures of the Bach chorale designated in the book so the student can compare a variety of ways to set that four part chorale for various families of instruments (strings, woodwinds, brass, and in various combinations). Then several dozen orchestral chords of various combinations are provided. Every example is designated in the book and explicitly identified on the CD.
The appendices are also quite useful and contain ready references on ranges and specialized considerations. I especially appreciate the addition of vocal ranges since it is quite common to use voices with orchestras.
This is a terrific text for students, for teachers because the information is so well presented, and for reference after school. Heck, if all you do is read orchestral scores while listening to music, this book can be most helpful in helping you understand the instruments you are hearing and their transpositions.
Most wonderfully done.