Product: "To serve & groove" - book
Author: O.A. Masciarotte - USA
Book details: ISBN: 978-0-9858217-0-8 - Publ. 2012 by Other Munday Press
Official website: www.othermunday.com
Price: standard book 14.95$ - eBook 5$
Reviewer: Lucio Cadeddu - TNT Italy
Reviewed: November, 2012
Fan of liquid music anyone? Willing to build your own DIY audiophile music server? Are you a grey-haired old school audiophile willing to learn the basics of digital music and computer-based digital playback? Then this is the book you were waiting for! The author is O. A. Masciarotte, a graduate of the Lowell Institute of MIT, who has spent over 30 years working on facilitation, optimization, marketing and product development for a broad range of manufacturers and governmental organizations in Africa, the Pacific Rim and United States, and media production houses in North America, Europe and Asia. Over the years, his clients have included Apple, Harper Collins, Hit Factory, Universal, NASA Johnson, NPR, Panasonic Disc Manufacturing, Pioneer Electronics, the San Francisco Symphony and WHYY. Early in his career, he worked for dbx, Lexicon, and a/d/s on several home hifi product lines.
His articles have been published in many trade publications, including columns for dB and Mix magazines and articles for RE/P, Electronic Musician, Studio Systems, Surround Professional and NewMedia magazines. He also is an active member of the AES, SMPTE and DCS, and is on the board of the Pleasurize Music Foundation, a non–profit organization dedicated to fighting the Loudness War that currently is destroying audio quality in modern recordings. A man in the know, that's for sure! You can find more infos on Seneschal, his consulting Company.
"To serve & groove" is an extremely detailed manual which explains everything about digital music and computer-based audio. It contains all you need to know in order to build your own PC/Mac-based audiophile music server, starting from scratch!
Indeed, a subtitle for this book is How to make your Mac into a real fine music server. But it is much more than that! Even non-Mac users might find this manual extremely useful.
The book is organized in several chapters (nine, plus three appendices) and starts with a long introduction on what is digital and what is analog, it explains sampling, jitter, resolution, clocking, compression etc. An entire chapter is then devoted to The host, that is the computer which will be used as music machine (OS versions, disabling services, memory, bit-perfect playback, signal processing etc.). An entire section is devoted to reviewing commercial players, that is music playback softwares (as they don't sound all the same!) and file extraction softwares. Everything is meant to be used on a Mac platform but many advices can be successfully applied to Win- or Linux-based machines.
Chapter six is entirely devoted to DACs and the pro's and con's of each and any technology currently available: USB, Thunderbolt, Firewire, AES-EBU, wireless etc. while chapter seven explains everything you need to know about lossy and non-lossy file formats.
I admit I really enjoyed reading this manual, not because of its content, precious advices and in-depth analysis, but for its style, which is absolutely informal and easy to understand, humorous, light and witty. I can't imagine someone who will find it boring!!! Yes, the author succeeds in making all those technical aspects fun to read and easy to understand, even for the non-technically skilled readers! And if someone gets lost while reading, he will find a closing section, at the end of each chapter, titled The bottom line, a kind of a brief compendium of the main facts described throughout the chapter. I've found these final sections to be extremely useful and well written.
I have few minor complaints: sometimes the author refers to colors and color depth of the included images but these are all in black&white! Perhaps the pages were originally written for full-color web pages, with colors and the like, but they look odd when displayed on paper, in plain b&w! Sometimes the author refers to "red arrows" (fig. 2.4, for example) but the displayed image is in plain black&white :-)
At page 43, fig. 2.13, there's even a comparison between a 8-bit color image and a 3-bit greyscale image. Unfortunately both images are grey-scaled! :-) Perhaps the book was initially intended to display full color graphics and then everything has been grey-scaled to simplify printing job (and shave printing costs, I imagine).
Summarizing, this book is an absolute must-have for everyone who wants to learn (quickly) not only the fundamental facts of digital music and computer-based audiophile sources, but even for the DIYer who wants to build his own computer-based music server, starting from a Mac, for example. Even Win- or Linux-based audiophiles will find the advices given by the Author extremely useful. Actually, there's a strong need for tech manuals written this way, that is easy to understand for everyone, light and entertaining, while still being 100% technically precise and accurate. It's a kind of Computer-based HiFi for dummies, if I may.
The book is available in various formats, a classical 204 pages hardbound edition or in electronic form (Nook, Kindle, iOS etc), for example on Lulu.com or on Amazon.com and, of course, on Apple's iBookStore. The electronic edition is way cheaper too :-) (5$ vs 15$).
I was planning to write a basic guide to liquid music for our magazine but I've changed my mind after having read this manual. It will be hard to produce something better than this one. Definitely a must-have.
Copyright © 2012 Lucio Cadeddu - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.tnt-audio.com