The history of high-end audio

January 6, 2016 | 23:02
The history of high-end audio
The history of high-end audio
Although most people nowadays only listen to compressed audio, there are still a lot of audio enthusiasts who pursue high-quality audio reproduction with high-end equipment. Starting in the 1950s, there has been a tremendous boom in loudspeakers and amplifiers as well as other audio reproduction equipment. For all audiophiles interested in this history, Robert Harley (Editor in Chief of the well-known US magazine The Absolute Sound) has authored two attractive books that describe and illustrate the evolution of this technology.
The Illustrated History of High-End Audio describes the evolution of high-end audio components since about 1945. Part 1 focuses on loudspeakers, while Part 2 is dedicated to audio amplifiers. A third part dealing with analog and digital signal sources is currently in progress, with publication scheduled for 2017. Each part is generously sized and covers well over 300 pages, printed on top-quality paper that shows the many photos to best advantage.
When you browse through these books, the first thing that attracts your attention is the many splendid photos, which are a special feast of memory for old-timers in the high-end audio sector. Some of the equipment also immediately recalls personal memories or experiences. After the first impression, you start looking at specific items and reading in more detail. That’s when you see how much interesting information – often previously unknown – these books contain. That’s because they are not limited to the history and development of equipment and companies in the audio world, but also focus strongly on the people behind them and what inspired them to develop or manufacture specific products. Once you start reading about something in one of these books, the evening is over before you even think about playing a LP or SACD on your own sound system.
Although these books could be described as “coffee-table” with regard to their appearance and finish, that term does not do justice to the quality and value of the content. They are truly intended to be read – that’s when you learn what’s behind each photo or product. Highly recommended for everyone who is or has ever been interested in high-end audio equipment and the people and stories behind the equipment.

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