The authors: Gary D Davis and associate Ralph Jones. Gary D Davis has written manuals and spec sheets for Yamaha audio products since 1974. Some of those manuals were so thorough in covering and explaining sound that they became standard text in some colleges. Bob Ludwig is among those credited for their collaboration and input for the book.
Publication date: Yamaha; 2nd edition (June 1989)
This book is a reference for live sound and has been so for many years. It was written for Yamaha in 1988 (second edition 1989) but as clearly expressed by the author, it was not to be a sales presentation for Yamaha products. The book even includes competitors’ names. Yamaha has always been active in designing equipment made for live sound and today some of their digital boards (such as the M7CL, PM1D and PM5D) are ubiquitous staples at many live venues.
The book offers complete coverage of sound reinforcement. Sound reinforcement is the use of audio amplification systems to ‘reinforce’ a sound source. This generally involves a sound source not loud enough to be heard by an audience without a sound system. Sound reinforcement includes public address systems and musical performance.
The YSRH is a classic for a reason; it goes through everything you need to know about live sound that can be taught in a book. It is a technical read, there are no anecdotes, just straight facts. The book covers the audio theory involved and the practical applications of that theory, that will allow you to design, use and troubleshoot a sound system for a variety of needs.
Many of the topics covered in this book will already be familiar to Musitechnic students but as the name of the book implies the topics are explained from the perspective of a live show. The various sections include the physics of sound, decibels (along with an appendix on logarithms), dynamic range and other basic concepts. There are also sections on acoustics (inside and outside), reading and interpreting technical specs (which is very helpful to be able to read between the lines when looking at equipment specs). The live signal chain (from microphone to the preamp and mixer, to the power amplifier and speakers, via signal processing) is studied and explained. We learn why gain structure is particularly important in locations that are loud and/or noisy and how a good gain structure can minimize feedback (the live engineer’s enemy). The book also covers cables and test equipment for live situations. The YSRH goes into electronics, bloc diagrams and how to read them. The book includes the necessary math’s. The authors walk you through the calculations and explain a few examples, so you are not left by yourself if your math’s is a bit rusty! There are sections that cover MIDI and synchronization which may have been a plus in 1989 but feel a little old today!
If you have an interest in the live field, the very technical aspects of sound or you want to be a very effective sound engineer; it’s an inexpensive book you can often refer to. However it’s a big book (10.8 x 8.4 x 1.2 inches) in black and white with ugly graphics (from 1989!) and not an easy read! Even though it is particularly aimed at live sound, many of the topics covered are very useful to any sound engineer. For someone who has never done any live and is interested in that part of the audio industry the YSRH is a good start. You’ll still need the hands on experience of dealing with last minute problems and the adrenaline rush associated live shows but solid knowledge can help compensate for lack of experience. Studios may not be offering many job opportunities these days but there is always plenty of live work available. You can learn a lot from the knowledge collected in this book, you can also learn a lot by working for free in a live venue.