Tweaking Sound


"Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music" (Faber & Faber, 2009, $35) is a book for music nerds and casual fans alike. In it, Greg Milner explains sound recording from varied perspectives, analyzing its scientific beginnings with Thomas Edison to the latest techniques in digital recording, citing Desmond Child's obsessive use in the late '90s that propelled it forward. If you can last through the technical talk of engineers and the chapter-long focus on dynamics, you will enjoy learning about the recording process.

Milner explores how the presentation of dynamics in music has changed with the evolution of recording procedures. He argues that the ability to change dynamics for dramatic listening affects the sales of music, citing The Eagles as a prime example of success through dynamics. He also writes about how listening has changed as so many people now gravitate toward louder music. Albums that sell well in mainstream music are the ones typically cranked up throughout the disc.

Milner writes as a true fan of music whose heart lies with vinyl recordings, even ending the book with a quote from engineer Peter Dilg, "If there's ever a big bomb, they're gonna find little piles of these 78s. And they'll listen to them, ten thousand years from now. Everything else will be dead."


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