The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio, Volume Two: Electronics

Special Preview

Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Tubed preamplifiers,
Integrated amplifiers,
Disc players,
Multi-format disc players,
Digital-to-analog converters
The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio, Volume Two: Electronics

I’m thrilled to announce that by the time you read this the second volume of The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio will be at the printer. As you may know, the Illustrated History is a series of richly illustrated large-format books celebrating high-end audio’s most legendary designers and their iconic products. Volume One on loudspeakers, published in 2013, has already met with overwhelming acclaim. The third and final volume, on analog and digital sources, will be published in 2017.

This new volume brings you the inside stories of the most fabled electronics designers, how they started their companies, and the secrets behind high-end audio’s classic products. We cover the entire history of high-end amplification, from the Western-Electric SETs of the Twenties and Thirties to the famous Williamson Amplifier of 1947 through to today’s cutting-edge products. You’ll find detailed histories of legendary brands like Marantz, McIntosh, Dynaco, Threshold, Mark Levinson, Audio Research, Spectral Audio, and Krell. And those are merely eight of the 97 companies we profile. We’ve even included special sections on SET and OTL amplifiers, Japanese artisanal audio, legendary British companies, and switching amplifiers. More than a collection of company resumés, Volume Two puts the evolution of high-performance amplification into historical context with insightful essays, informative interviews, and expert commentary by the TAS writing team and industry luminaries. What were the reasons for the explosion of creativity in the early 1970s? Why did the vacuum tube—all but forgotten for nearly two decades—make such a spectacular comeback? How do the world’s most famous amplifier designers view their art and contributions to the high end? It’s all here in Volume Two of the Illustrated History.

This lavishly produced book includes never-before-published interviews with the founding fathers of the high-end amplifier industry in addition to informative profiles of each of their companies, timelines detailing the most significant advancements in each company’s history, classic and contemporary TAS commentary on the company’s landmark products and technical milestones, and an overall assessment of each company’s contributions to the high end.

In addition to these in-depth company profiles, we’ve included a historical overview of nearly 100 years of amplifier design. Even more special, in this volume, amplifier-design legend Nelson Pass weighs in on the most significant and influential solid-state amplifiers in audio history, while Bob Carver looks at the five most important tube amplifiers and what made them so special. In addition, Scott Frankland contributes a fascinating technical history of the amplifier’s early development. The insights of these famous engineers into why certain products became classics is essential reading for all audiophiles.

As with the first volume, we’ve spared no expense in the production of this comprehensive book. Nearly the size of an LP cover and spanning 336 pages, The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio is printed on super-premium paper, features a sewn binding for longevity, and comes complete with a full-color dust jacket.

The Absolute Sound’s Illustrated History of High-End Audio is a celebration of the individuals who, often armed with nothing more than a brilliant idea and a dream, created an industry that has brought great joy to countless music lovers. The interviews are the definitive and fascinating personal stories of each of these company founder’s aspirations, challenges, and triumphs.

Those of you who own the first volume in the Illustrated History series already know just how chock-full of fascinating details these books are, as well as their cost-no-object production values. And if you’re discovering the Illustrated History for the first time, you’re in for a genuine treat.

I invite you to enjoy a special preview of this new volume in the Illustrated History series at There you’ll find a table of contents listing all the companies profiled and designers interviewed, sample pages of the layout, selected excerpts from the book, and details about the publication. I encourage you to sign up for exciting e-mail updates that will give you exclusive information along with special previews of the book’s content.