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No. 202 March 2021


Images: Wojciech Pacuła

No 202

March 1, 2021

Or, what’s worth reading and viewing related to audio industry

The world of perfectionist audio, or the AUDIOPHILE WORLD, is not rich in literature - neither as subject nor as object. Each new release that comes out is therefore automatically interesting. Below you will find a list of books that are really interesting, and some of them are also beautiful.

UBLISHED ON THE BLOG AN ARTICLE BY RAFAŁ CHRIST Poles read more during the pandemic. Empik says which books we read most often drew attention to the fact that closing people at home brought an unexpected benefit in the form of an increase in readership - in the Polish case it’s an activity in stagnation.

According to the data provided by the EMPiK, the largest increase, by as much as 260%, was recorded with publications dedicated to children aged 3-5. Foreign fiction was second (230%), and the podium was closed by titles addressed to young people (200%). The following categories are: crime / sensation / thriller (198%), personal development (150%), fantasy (140%) and guides (116%). These are data from April 2020.

I had my doubts about the sustainability of this trend, but as it turns out, it is quite stable. The portal, popular among readers, wrote in the summary of last year: "[the pandemic] did not have a negative impact on readership, our statistics give us optimism". And no wonder - this is the time when network resources turned out to be the most important, thanks to which the sales of e-books also increased rapidly.

I have been using this invention for several years, persuaded by my son, and although I love physical contact with a book, its smell, texture, etc., it turned out that this way I can choose reasonably, what I would like to read and what I wish I had which is not the same. Thanks to this, I was able to focus on selected, physically purchased books, especially those devoted to broadly understood audio issues.

I would like to share these thoughts and choices. Below you will find a few selected publications that I acquired last year, either purchasing them myself, or received as gifts. Not all of them are the latest releases, but all of them create a map that you can use in your own peregrinations around the nooks and crannies of the audio world.


KEN KESSLER Making The Music Glow
Audio Research Corporation, Maple Grove 2020 | EN

KEN KESSLER, AN AUDIO JOURNALIST associated with the British magazine "HI-FI NEWS", is known not only for his articles, but also monographs which already constitute quite a large library. He started in 2011 with a story about QUAD called Quad: The Closest Approach, then gave us McIntosh "For The Love Of Music and KEF 50 Years of Innovation in Sound, and last year, Making The Music Glow, a book about AUDIO RESEARCH.

All the mentioned titles were published in a format called 'coffee table', meaning they are large - exactly 12 x 12” ... Kessler's latest position is written with knowledge of the subject, with panache, in a light way. It is mainly company’s story told from the perspective of the company's founder, his wife and their employees, as well as a list of devices that are historically important for Audio Research Corporation. A kind of "hagiographic" approach to the subject is inevitable - the monograph was ordered and financed by the manufacturer, so it is hard to expect that it will be an in-depth analysis of its ups and downs, but rather a description of its ups. Nevertheless, it is another important item, and it also features some great photos.


MATT ANNISS & PATRICK FULLER Winyle. Podręcznik miłośnika winylów (original title: Vinyl. Owner’s Workshop Manual)
Translated by Tomasz Prochenka, Bellona, Warszawa 2019 | PL

THIS IS ONE OF ABSOLUTELY FEW ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ITEMS in the field of perfectionist audio, which was released in Polish. It was prepared jointly by Annis, an album collector and author of articles and books on DJ music. The second author, Fuller, also comes from this circle. And it was from this perspective that it was written, that is from the perspective of people for whom the turntable is first and foremost a musical instrument and only then a precise tool for its reproduction.

The book is divided into chapters from which we will learn about the history of sound recording, turntable design, its variants, and also how to play records. It is also an interesting insight into the culture related to vinyl, both in terms of reproducing and collecting them. The book is approximately A4 in size, has a hardcover and is printed on glossy paper.

It is not as graphically sophisticated as Kessler's monograph, and the photos are not as well reproduced. It is also not a translation that would allow me to read it read it through at once, although it is bearable in small doses. Nevertheless, it is worth having it, even for curiosities and details known only to "insiders".


TERRY BURROWS The art of sound. A visual history for audiophiles
Thames & Hudson, Londyn 2017 | EN

IT IS AN OLDER POSITION, BUT EVERY TIME I reach for it, it evokes only good feelings in me. It was beautifully prepared by Thames & Hudson, an English publishing house founded in 1949 by Walter and Ewa Neurath, specializing in luxurious items in which the visual layer plays a major role.

The art of sound. A visual history for audiophiles is a a monograph on EMI publishing and recording studios and how this iconic company shaped the soundscape. It's an EMI-centric position, but I got used to it pretty quickly. The book is published in an outstanding way, ranging from the binding, through photos, to typography; it has a format similar to a 10” LP.

On 350 pages we get the history of the reproduced sound, with an emphasis on Europe, broken down into "eras": acoustic, electric, analog, digital, etc. The verbal layer is important here, it is surprisingly good, but the most important are photos and figures - and they are outstanding! Many of the microphones, tape recorders, mixers shown (did you know that the EMI already had a digital mixer prototype in 1979?!) were for the first time pulled out of museums and warehouses. Moreover, they were simply photographed brilliantly and described in a meaningful way.


JOHN FOSTER Album art. New Music Graphics
Thames & Hudson, Londyn 2018 | EN

A YEAR LATER, THE SAME PUBLISHER prepared an item in which the most interesting album covers were presented and discussed. Contrary to the popular "The best of ...", this time we get a very interesting analysis of the latest trends in design related to record releases. In a series of interviews with graphic designers, we learn about the details of their workshop, learn about their most important orders and how they fulfilled them.

These covers include DAVID BOWIE’S The Next Day, TAME IMPALA’s Currents, DURAN DURAN’S Paper Goods, JAY Z albums, a special single release Sledgehammer by PETER GABRIEL, FOO FIGTERS album covers etc. This is a very good overview lesson on contemporary graphics - you might say - functional one. As befits this release, the whole thing is classy and great looking.


GIDEON SCHWARTZ Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design
Phaidon, Londyn 2019 | EN

SCHWARTZ'S BOOK TALKS EXACTLY ABOUT WHAT we do at "High Fidelity", that is the history of manufacturers and audio products. Its author is a true passionate - a former attorney-at-law who left the law firm and founded Audioarts in New York in 2010 to sell high-end devices.

Hi-Fi: The History of High-End Audio Design is divided into chapters titled like the decades they describe: 1950s, 1960s etc. Within the chapters, you will find short entries about brands that were important at that time. It's an interesting read, the whole thing is well written, with gusto and knowledge of things. I do not agree with everything in it, not all hierarchies are clear to me, but this only makes it more attractive - ultimately, new things are built on such disagreement.

The photos are just as important as the text - they are excellent and I saw most of them for the first time, and almost all of them for the first time in such good quality, many of them are archival photos. Which is my sole objection, related to copyrights. There is a short entry about the Thöress brand on page 244. It is a German manufacturer of high-class tube devices, which was featured in our website (more HERE; accessed: 21.01.2121). I like this sound and this style.

When I got to this place in my reading, I was struck by the photos of the company's products - really excellent ones. I quickly checked and it turned out that their author is BARTOSZ ŁUCZAK from Piksel Studio, who has been preparing the graphic side of "High Fidelity" for over a dozen years (and privately, a multiple medalist of national and international competitions in long-range shooting; his magazine on long-range shooting is titled

Anyway, the thing is that in the book the photos were signed with the name of the Thöress company, even though they did not belong to it and were not taken by it. I have tried to trace this issue and it seems that the error arose somewhere between all involved parties despite the good intentions. Perhaps it will be corrected in the next edition of this title. In any case, it is a book that every audio lover should have, no matter what language he or she speaks.


MARIA ANNA MACURA NAGRASTORY. Stefan Kudelski, jego cztery Oskary i… inne opowieści (NAGRASTORY. Stefan Kudelski and his four Oscars and… other storyes)
Muzeum Kinematografii w Łodzi, Łódź 2020 | PL

BOOK DEDICATED TO STEFAN KUDELSKI, one of the few Polish audio engineers known all over the world (and perhaps the only one), was written by his second wife, who accompanied him for the last ten years of his life (Kudelski was also her uncle …). These are memories, more of an oral history than a list of facts. The publication was commissioned by the Museum of Cinematography in Łódź, so it focuses primarily on the relations between the founder of Nagra and the film industry.

And there is a lot to write about. It was thanks to the portable reel-to-reel tape recorder of its design, the Nagra 4.2L, that in 1978 Stefan Kudelski received an Oscar in the science and technology category. His tape recorders also accompanied the expedition to Mount Everest in 1952, the expedition to the bottom of the Marian Trench in 1960 and the landing on the moon in 1969 - thanks to Kudelski and his tape recorder we could hear the famous words of Neil Armstrong. Polish-born engeneer received the Oscar statuette twice: for the second time in 1990 (honorary Gordon E. Sawyer award).

There are many anecdotes and stories rather than history, plus some photos. During his retirement, Kudelski did what he liked best: he flew a private plane around Europe or sailed a yacht in the Mediterranean, so it's not about his job, but rather about his personal life. I admit that I just started reading it, so I will not tell you too much about its artistic and substantive value, but it is still a must - in Polish we have far too few stories about the backstage of audio companies with a Polish accent (I dream of an album devoted to design of Polish audio from the communist era). This is the second, revised edition; the first was released in 2019.


FOR THIS YEAR, ONE OF THE ICONS OF THE PUBLISHING WORLD, London-based TASCHEN, announced the re-launch of the 2016 monograph on CAPITOL RECORDS: 75 Years of Capitol Records (probably under the new title - it's already the 80th anniversary!). I can not wait. Especially since I am reading and viewing another fantastic book, devoted to BLUE NOTE, beautifully published by - already mentioned - Thames & Hudson Blue Note: Uncompromising Expression from 2014.

I hope that I managed to encourage - at least some of you - to do your own research and got interested in one or more titles. And although these are real books, and not their digital representation, which materializes on reader screens, in this case it is an advantage, not a burden. The slogan "reading has a future" finally has a chance to be true also in Poland ... WP

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “Enjoy the”, “”“”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years it has been published both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.

Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one of reviews published online. This unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland, held in November of each year.

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