The Complete Guide to High-End Audio Paperback – Apr 1 2004
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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?Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a well-written "manual" for those who love music and want to maximize the performance of their audio systems. No, Mr. Read morePublished on April 4 2014 by Maestro
describes in total all you need to know about hight end audio, well covered explanations of principles of audio giving good explanations of the required audio devices of high end... Read morePublished on Feb. 7 2013 by pierre payette
This is great refresher course for those already familiar with audio - though you may find yourself bored out of your mind. Read morePublished on March 5 2004
If you are reading this review is because you are probably about to shell out some serious money on a high-end system, and you want to make a decision that you'll not regret... Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2004 by Ferran Prat
First things first: This book is one of the most comprehensive books I've come across in regards to high-end audio and its in's and out's. Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2002 by Boris
If you are the type of person who has a "critical ear" and is interested in learning about what is the full spectrum of options available in buying and setting-up a high quality... Read morePublished on March 11 2002 by Warren E. Bailey
As long as the author sticks to straight-forward info (such as explining why a pre-amp is often needed between a source component and a power amp) the book is useful. Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2001 by Desert Rat
Anyone who wants to improve the sound performance of his/her audio setup will find in this books the nuts and bolts to achieving the task. Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2001 by Marcelo A. Soto Quiroga
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