www.ethanwiner.com - since 1997

The Audio Expert


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History

I've always wanted to write a book about audio, and a few years ago I started making notes about what I would include. As it happens, a major publisher of technical books approached me in early 2011 after seeing my hour-long AES Audio Myths video. So I submitted a proposal for my book, The Audio Expert, which they quickly approved. I worked on the book full-time for ten months, then spent several months more reviewing the page proofs and index. All that work paid off, the book came out great, and it is now shipping. The book totals 739 pages - it's a big book! - including three bonus chapters available online. There are also 65 audio examples, 31 demo videos, and five audio-related software programs available on the book's web site. The Audio Expert is also available as an e-book in Kindle format, which can be used with iBooks using the free Kindle app.

Buy This Book!

The Audio Expert is available at the Amazon Book Store, though I also sell signed copies directly, with several bonus features not available anywhere else. If you buy the book from my own online store you'll receive a personalized signed copy, plus my Tele-Vision and Cello Rondo DVD ($18.99 value), as well as a second DVD containing all the online content that accompanies the book - three additional chapters, software, audio examples, and demo videos. To reduce server space and bandwidth, the publisher's web site for my book streams low-res versions of the videos. The DVD included with books sold through my web store contains the original high-resolution MP4 files. So you avoid the hassle of logging into a web site to download files and view the videos online, and also get higher quality videos.

About The Audio Expert

The Audio Expert is a comprehensive "reference" type book covering all aspects of audio, with many practical as well as theoretical explanations. It's written for people who want to understand audio at the deepest, most technical level, but without needing an engineering degree. The Audio Expert explains how audio really works in much more depth than usual, using common sense plain-English explanations and mechanical analogies, with minimal math. It's presented in an easy to read conversational tone, and includes more than 400 figures and photos to augment the printed text. You can view the Table of Contents now, which includes a list of all the videos that total more than 3-1/2 hours running time.

However, this book goes beyond merely explaining how audio works. It brings together the concepts of audio, aural perception, musical instrument physics, acoustics, and basic electronics, showing how they're intimately related. It also describes in great detail many related practices and techniques used by recording and mixing engineers, including video production and computers. This book is meant for intermediate to advanced recording engineers and audiophiles who want to become experts. It's definitely not a "Dummies" type book for beginners, though there's plenty for beginners too.

One unique feature is explaining how audio devices such as equalizers, compressors, and A/D converters work internally, and how they're spec'd and tested, rather than merely describing how to use them. This book is also unique because it includes much original research, such as methods to test the audibility of distortion and other artifacts using your own listening system, while explaining why many common home-made tests are not valid. It also addresses the perennial "measuring versus listening" and "subjectivist versus objectivist" debates head on, and resolves them using science, logic, and hard proof. There's plenty of myth-busting and consumerism too. Indeed, truly understanding how audio gear works leads to smarter buying. So while I won't tell readers what brand power amplifier to buy, I explain in great detail what defines a good amplifier, so people can choose a first-rate model wisely without over-paying.

Most explanations throughout the book are platform-agnostic, applying equally to Windows and Mac computers, and to most software and hardware. Many audio and video examples are included to better present complex topics such as vibration and resonance. Other videos demonstrate editing techniques and audio processing, plus several video interviews with skilled musicians demonstrating their instruments and playing techniques. In the piano video, a professional piano technician disassembles a $100,000 Steinway grand to show how it works! Of course, there's also a comprehensive Acoustics section, bringing together much of my writings from past years into one coherent reference, along with a wealth of new information. There's literally nothing else like this book.

The last chapter I intended for this book was to explain music theory, but there wasn't room in the book. So instead I created a Music Theory Video and put it on YouTube for all to enjoy for free. (It's also on Vimeo because some segments are blocked by YouTube in some countries.) Explaining music theory makes more sense as a video anyway, since a video can include music as audio to accompany the written examples. This video packs a college-level course into just over 2-1/2 hours using detailed explanations and familiar musical examples. Segments include Notes and Melody, Intervals, Scales and Arpeggios, Musical Keys, Harmony, Chord Progressions, Musical Timing and Time Signatures, Conducting, as well as a section on musicians and musical instruments. Because of its length, the video is divided into five segments, organized as a YouTube play-list linked above. You can also purchase a DVD of this course for $9.99 postpaid from my web store.

Questions and discussions about my book or any of the topics covered, including music theory, are welcome in my Audio Expert forum. You do not have to own my book to participate.

This Addendum page contains corrections, clarifications, and additions to the book since it was published.

What Others Are Saying

In addition to the many favorable reviews that follow, and the snippets from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, my book has been selected as the main text for the Audio Technology course at Notre Dame University. The instructor, Doug Hall, emailed his class instructions to purchase the book, and cc'd me: "This book appears to be excellent, the book I've been looking for, and I am very excited to adopt it as a primary resource for our course!" I received similar praise from George Wurzbach, Specialist Professor of Music Theory and Technology at Monmouth University: "[The Audio Expert is] my go-to audio book. What a wonderfully eloquent treatise on an often muddy and dense area of study. It's a great book. Thanks so much."

Amazon Customer Reviews
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From the August 2014 review in AudioXpress magazine: "I think there is a lot of valuable audio listening and recording information in this book. Winer obviously has a lot of experience as a recording engineer, and he has formed opinions that go with it. As a result, I believe readers can learn a lot of practical recording techniques, particularly from Part 2 of his book. I found The Audio Expert to be a fascinating and technically valuable book."

From editor Tom Kenny's terrific review in the June, 2014 issue of Mix magazine: "Ethan Winer knows how things work. From lawn mowers to ham radios to DOS BASIC compilers, to, well, seemingly everything related to audio. In his immense and detailed 2013 book The Audio Expert ... Winer covers the science and math of music and recording in a no-nonsense, authoritative manner ... His work is thorough and presented in a forthright and logical manner, with plenty of examples to illustrate his points. The author asks in his introduction if the world really needs another book about audio. Yes, it does."

In his review for the May, 2013 issue of Pro Audio Review magazine, legendary recording engineer Lynn Fuston had only praise: "I especially appreciate the inclusion of a section on instruments because many engineers know lots about computers and software, but have precious little understanding of music and musical instruments. Thank you, Ethan ... Although there is a wealth of information contained herein, this is not just a book of facts. Winer's opinions are not white-washed either, such as the section called [suggestively] 'The Failings of Analog Tape' ... One thing I like is that Ethan shares my penchant for dispelling myths in the recording world. Like me, he has very little patience for nonsense and pixie dust ... More than anything else, the greatest compliment I can pay this book is that, in all my reading of it, I never once felt bored or like it was a waste of my time. For someone like me, who has spent a lot of time reading and recording already, that's saying a lot."

Greg Mackie (of Mackie loudspeakers and mixers fame) recently sent me this glowing praise by email: "THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS BOOK AVAILABLE!!!! My first impression when I opened the box and picked up the book was, Gawd, now that's a book! Just love the way you present so much information and in a clear and concise manner. I've pretty much read the book cover to cover, really helped firm up a lot of beliefs I already had, corrected many misconceptions, and educated me in areas I really needed it. I especially liked the sections on audio myths - that's one of my favorite areas. Thanks again for making the book available, really well done Ethan. If you need any recommendations for your book, you certainly have mine. If I started another audio company, I'd make your book required reading before I'd hire anyone that's expected to know about audio!!!"

Brandon Drury of the Recording Review web site and audio forum posted a wonderful review of my book. Here are some excerpts: "If I had this book in 2001 when I started, I believe I would be armed to effectively deal with the people who I feel misled me, regardless of their motives (malice, stupidity, ignorance, going with the flow of the herd), and I would have the foundation necessary to achieve my audio goals faster and at less expense. ... It really does appear that Ethan attempted to cover pretty much EVERYTHING about the science of audio. I think it's safe to say he succeeded. While there are entire books on probably each chapter Ethan has covered, he's done a phenomenal job of telling you what you need to know about practically every important 'audio guy' topic. In particular, the way he taught the electronics chapter REALLY impressed me. I've been reading endlessly for the past week [books] on C++ and have not come anywhere close to the caliber and effectiveness Ethan has executed in this book."

From audio journalist Jon Chappell's fabulous review on Harmony Central: "There is a veritable galaxy of books and book-and-media packages that will help you advance your knowledge of audio and music production. Many of these are written by accomplished and respected members of the industry. But none are as credible as Winer, who has made a crusade of debunking myths and other fanciful notions on internet forums, and has tirelessly sought to set the record straight ... You may understand many of the basic concepts in the early parts of the book, but even experts will find the material so thorough and artfully presented that they can take away something useful ... The book succeeds in both its ability to explain audio concepts straightforwardly (but no simpler than is necessary), and to bring the theoretical explanations into practical applications. This - and the book's massive wealth of solid information, broad scope, and rich multimedia support - make The Audio Expert a must-read for any recording musician at any level."

WusikSound Magazine is a free online magazine, and the October 2012 edition contains a fabulous review by David Baer on page 4. From that review: "The Audio Expert has the secondary title "Everything You Need to Know About Audio," and it honestly lives up to that billing. Ethan Winer is one of the few individuals who could single-handedly write such a book. If you're serious about music production, and especially if you're just starting as a hobbyist, you will benefit enormously from reading [The] Audio Expert. Ethan Winer is a fine writer and teacher and is unquestionably a true audio expert. He deserves our commendation for helping us to become audio experts ourselves."

Canadian Musician magazine recently arranged to publish excerpts from my book, and their editor Andrew King told me by email: "I love the writing style and tone of the book - sometimes complicated concepts presented in a very conversational, easy-to-digest format. That style made it very easy to share excerpts from the book in Canadian Musician magazine; we were able to share very valuable information with what's a largely novice audience to great success."

This is from the review by Yuvi Gerstein: "The explanations in each chapter are incredibly straight forward and the feeling is that Winer is not trying to prove his knowledge by making things complicated like many other authors unfortunately do. On the other hand, the level of detail is great and by no means superficial. You could get some serious knowledge, tips and a much better understanding of audio matters including some myth busting and setting the record straight on a few important audio issues."

Magazine editor Craig Anderton wrote a glowing review of The Audio Expert in the March 2012 issue of Electronic Musician magazine. (Scroll about 2/3 of the way down the page.) From his summary: "The book's overall tone is saturated with the enthusiasm of someone who clearly loves the subject matter, and loves disseminating it to others. No matter how much you know about recording and audio, you're sure to find material here that will add to your expertise." When Craig emailed me about his upcoming review he wrote, "Two words: great book."

From this interview by Keith Clark in the May 2012 issue of Live Sound Magazine: "The Audio Expert, a new book by Ethan Winer, exhaustively covers a plethora of important technical aspects of audio. But it goes much further, discussing and explaining the relationship between audio and a wide range of closely related factors. In short, it challenges you to think, to seek a deeper understanding. Just released by Focal Press, I received an advance copy and have had a hard time putting it down."

Microphone expert and author Bruce Bartlett emailed me this: "Ethan, your book and DVD are fantastic. Way to go! I really enjoyed the fun video - looks like you did too ... I very much like your myth busters. Somebody has to speak out against the nonsense."

From film composer and sound designer John Schuermann: "I can honestly say that this is the most valuable book I have ever read pertaining to audio in all its forms, from mixing and recording to home theater setup. The breadth of information in this book is nothing short of stunning, as is Ethan's ability to tie all of the different facets of audio together so you can see how everything interrelates."

Technical editor Mike Rivers also has nice things to say: "this book ... covers a lot of ground from the fundamental physics of audio, recording technology, how musical instruments work, MIDI, computer based recording, and of course acoustics ... The Audio Expert is a very comprehensive book, a good read, and a good reference."

From his terrific review on the SonicScoop web site, Justin Colletti writes: "In a sentence: It's a painstakingly well-researched, 650-page reference guide that seeks to fill in the gaps of knowledge so prevalent in the audio community today ... It's advanced concepts that Winer illuminates simply and cleanly in the opening chapters of his book ... there's no way you could read through The Audio Expert and not come out smarter than you went in."

From this review in the October, 2012 issue of Sound On Sound magazine, Hugh Robjohns wrote: "The book provides a useful working knowledge and understanding of audio engineering and an extended range of related topics and - more importantly, in some ways - how everything is interrelated ... The Audio Expert is easy to read, and is generously illustrated throughout. It also covers an unusually wide range of subject areas, with welcome material on the basic technology of common musical instruments."

Even Rane, a manufacturer of high quality professional audio equipment, had nice things to say: "It does a wonderful job in covering a wide range of audio fundamentals, including a great section on exposing audio myths. This alone makes it worth the investment ... All in all, a very fine package, highly recommended for the basics."


Ethan Winer has been a professional audio engineer and musician for most of his adult life. He now heads up RealTraps, where he designs acoustic treatment products for recording studios and home listening rooms.

Entire contents of this web site Copyright 1997- by Ethan Winer. All rights reserved.