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The Complete Guide to High-End Audio Paperback – Apr 1 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Acapella Publishing; Third edition edition (April 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0964084961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0964084964
  • Product Dimensions: 25.5 x 4.1 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #943,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Robert Harley is the editor in chief of The Absolute Sound, the world's most respected magazine on high-performance audio. He is the author of Introductory Guide to High-Performance Audio Systems and Home Theater for Everyone and has written more than 1,000 product reviews and articles on high-quality music reproduction. He lives in Carlsbad, California.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Koko the Talking Ape on Sept. 24 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of the very few books I have ever returned to the bookstore (and I have bought thousands of books.)
Why don't I like this book?
1) It contains many, many, factual errors. These errors would be easily spotted by any freshman physics student, and should have been spotted by the publisher. For example, the author Robert Harley apparently doesn't understand the difference between electrical current and voltage.
2) It doesn't actually explain things. To me, an explanation shows how something works in terms of basic principles. Mr. Harley simpley states "facts", e.g., an outboard D/A converter will improve your sound, without explaining how or why.
3) Many photos and diagrams have mistaken or even irrelevant captions, leading me to conclude that Mr. Harley doesn't understand his own diagrams. For example, a diagram of an amplifier that uses feedback is used to "illustrate" a point about amplifiers that don't use feedback.
This last is the most serious point to me, because it makes me suspect that much of the technical-looking stuff in the book is included to impress the reader, not to actually explain things. In other words, it creates the impression of dishonesty.
To the people who defend the book as not intended for technical readers, I say this: even a non-technical book should be written by someone who understand the technical issues, so he or she can explain things clearly and truthfully. If it turns out that the author doesn't know the technical stuff, why should we read the book?
I might add that Robert Harley has a very poor reputation among respected audio engineers and other commentators in the field. Some audio manufacturers (but not all) pander to him apparently because he edits a high-end audio magazine, and his reviews can make or break a product.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew M. Ward on May 29 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is:
Almost what the High-End Audio industry needs
It's important for me that a book be written on the advantages of high-end audio. It's the business I'm in and it is dear to me on a personal level. There are many excellent portions and handy information pieces scattered about the book and that's the good news.
I will refrain from personalizing my complaints and stick to the issues as I see them. To write this book as the author, you should know Ohm's Law. Harley does not. This is made evident in several examples. Amperes, voltage and wattage are all part of a greater equation that appears to mystify the author. The basic laws of physics and simple electrical concepts need be firmly grasped prior to making an endeavor such as this. There are many elements of "Dark Science" in the high-end audio realm and a mystique that is largely relevant. This book does a strong job of handling that delicate balance between science and myth, that is so important to this industry. Along the way however it forgets to "check the science"
That's too bad, but not a total loss...
A serious explanation of negative feedback as used in power amplifiers would have been pretty easy to put down for the record. Most power amp manufactures have fascinating solutions to the problems associated with negative feedback. A breakdown of a few of the key developments in this area would have been excellent. An opportunity missed. Instead he uses an example of a negative feedback amplifier and calls it just the opposite! At that point in the book I admit I was a bit frustrated.
The good parts are many!
It's an enjoyable read when the author sticks to what he actually knows, acoustics and auditioning gear. I learned much and felt the key points were illustrated clearly and in the contexts of meaningful application. I am not saying "don't buy"
I guess I'm saying this book missed a huge opportunity simply by not getting some important parts right. That's all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8 2004
Format: Paperback
Consumer Audio is a field rife with baloney. The higher end you go, the sillier *some* of the hype gets as well. There are a number of honest, high quality boutique audio manufacturers that can get lost in the shuffle with all the dubious claims made by some firms. Audio shops can also be very intimidating as well - especially when you don't know how to ask the right questions or what they might be. How can a budding audiophile put together the a great sounding system he or she can afford while avoiding spending a lot of money on things that don't matter and cut through the baloney?
First thing - aside from reading materials - is locate a store where you can rely upon the experience and knowledge of the people to steer you to the right system - and one that is interested in your business long term (Audiophilia is a life long pursuit with upgrades, subtractions and additions over a few decades).
Second thing - self education. A lot of people pick up magazines and read the reviews - and this set would likely be interested in a book like this, written as it is by the founder and editor of The Absolute Sound.
This book, unlike most audio magazines, does not review equipment, but is a road map through the embarrasement of riches that high end has become. How do you evaluate speakers and, as the author said - find the 2% of speakers worth owning? How can you evaluate a system to find if it is right for you? If you are going to buy a high end CD player - what things make a high end player sound good? How does the current round of SACD and DVD-Audio disc players work - and are they worth it to a prospective audiophile? How does a turntable work - and what considerations do you have to give when you go and purchase one? How important are interconnects?
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