Introduction to “How Audio Works”

Introduction

This book is intended for music fans of all sorts and ages.

Whether a musician who wants to understand the engineering behind the music, a hobbyist who wants to record their songs, a music lover who wants to understand why certain records sound the way they do, an audio engineer who wants to make sure they can nail the basic technicalities of their craft, or simply someone eager to learn the basics of audio engineering, this book is for you.

The title of the book is “How Audio Works”. The problem is that audio gets hard quickly. This book aims at making the fundamentals of audio easier to understand, but it still is a challenging task that requires some thinking. Because audio is an engineering discipline, There Will Be Math. Simple functions, simple equations, but math nonetheless. Even if I tried to avoid mathing you out, it is the basic language of engineering. Understanding the equations is not required to understand the principles behind them, but it helps.

I decided to organize the book in the most intuitive way possible: follow the sound from its creation to its rendering, from the vibrating string to the sound in your ears. Chapter 1 deals with physical sound and its description in terms of waves. Chapter 2 explains how the sound is transformed and transported by a series of devices (microphones, cables, amplifiers, etc.) from the analog physical domain to the digital virtual domain. Chapter 3 describes the basic transformative operations available in the digital domain. Chapter 4 explains how the sound is transformed back into the analog domain and how we humans detect it.

Appendix A contains a list of sources; on that topic, I have removed all the Wikipedia references I had originally included: if a term of concept is not clear, there is a good chance that there is some Wikipedia article about it because, well, you and I are not the first ones to ponder the issue; if there is no article, call me. Appendix B is a short compendium to help the non-engineers make sense of the multiple units used in the book.

 

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