The Friendly Audio Guide
Available in both print and Kindle editions
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* If you buy the print edition from Amazon, the MatchBook program enables you to buy the Kindle ebook for $1.99 (reduced from $5.95 list price).
About the book
Putting together your first stereo system but donít know where to start? Want to upgrade a system that never made you happy? Audio critic Mark Fleischmann has written this very brief how-to guide especially for beginners and anyone else who needs to decode the technical rhetoric surrounding audio gear. In addition to the basics of loudspeakers, amplifiers, digital sources, turntables, and other products, it also offers pragmatic advice on how to put together a system, how to set up a system, how to collect a music library, and the act of listening itself. Mark has decades of experience as an audio equipment reviewer. He is also the author of Practical Home Theater.
About the author
Author of The Friendly Audio Guide, Practical Home Theater, and Happy Pig's Hot 100 New York Restaurants, Mark Fleischmann has been a technology writer and reviewer for more than 30 years. He has served as founding editor-in-chief of etown.com, audio editor of Sound & Vision and its predecessor Home Theater, senior editor of Video Magazine, audio critic of Rolling Stone, and columnist for Audio Video Interiors, DigitalTrends.com, Premiere, and The Village Voice. His writing has appeared in Bloomberg Personal, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com, Details, Entertainment Weekly, The Men's Journal, Newsday, Spin, The Ultimate AV Guide, The Washington Post, and many other publications. He has lived in New York City since 1975. Visit Mark's homepage.
The Friendly FAQ: Read Before Buying!
Q: Mark, how is The Friendly Audio Guide different from your last tech book, Practical Home Theater?
A: It is shorter, oriented exclusively to beginners, and not a home theater book.
Q: How short are we talking about?
A: The page count is just over 100, but the core of the book is well under 100 pages. I've dropped the print and Kindle prices accordingly.
Q: Your last book was nearly 300 pages. Why is this one so skinny?
A: In keeping with the orientation to beginners, I wanted the reader to be able to get through the whole book in a single evening, then go out the next day and buy an audio system.
Q: Were you also influenced by criticism of your previous book?
A: Yes. Most Amazon reviewers gave it five stars. But about one in seven said it was too complicated, that there was too much information to wade through to get to the essential points they needed. I felt bad about that. This book is for them. Basically, it's for a new kind of reader.
Q: Besides length, how is this book different from Practical Home Theater?
A: It is not a home theater book. The dominant focus is on stereo. The book contains virtually nothing about video and a lot less information about the nuts and bolts of surround sound.
Q: Since both books cover audio technology, is there any overlap?
A: Yes, the chapters on loudspeakers, amplifiers, and other product categories are very similar. My ways of explaining tech specs haven't changed much—I basically got that stuff right the first time—though I did condense a lot of the duplicated material for a faster read.
Q: Is there anything new in this book, then?
A: Yes, the chapters on recommended systems, putting together a system, collecting a music library, and listening are totally new. There is also a freshly written chapter on turntables and phono cartridges, which were mostly ignored in the last book.
Q: Didn't your last book include recommended systems?
A: No, Practical Home Theater just mentioned a few products here and there as illustrative examples. The Friendly Audio Guide recommends whole systems from budget to high-end gear, based in part on my own extensive hands-on reviews. This is a major departure.
Q: Should the people who bought Practical Home Theater support your new book?
A: The short answer is no. There is a lot of duplication. I don't want any of my loyal readers to feel burned. But if you desperately need a basic primer on turntables or capsule reviews of recommended systems, maybe. If you have a friend or family member who needs to get up to speed on audio fast, then definitely.
Q: What else is different about this book?
A: I'm proudest of the chapters on collecting records and listening. Most books on audio tend to gloss over music software, which is the whole reason for getting into audio technology. The chapter on listening, I felt, was the perfect way to end the book. Listening is how you get closer to music, and getting closer to music is what audio is all about.
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