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The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World Hardcover – February 10, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0393239799 ISBN-10: 0393239799 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (February 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393239799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393239799
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As a seasoned architectural acoustics specialist, Cox has made a living out of retrofitting theaters and classrooms to minimize unwanted echoes and other sonic distortions. While visiting an unusually reverberant London sewer, Cox had a sudden epiphany that spawned a new hobby somewhat at odds with his chosen profession: seeking out and cataloging unusual noises. One result of his research is this enchanting guidebook to the “sonic wonders of the world,” in which he analyzes such aural anomalies as humming sand dunes and chirping Mayan pyramids. Without getting lost in arcane scientific minutiae, Cox provides several easily digested lessons in acoustics on his way to describing the many sonic marvels he visited and studied around the world, from the famous whispering gallery of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral to the melancholy underwater songs produced by bearded seals near the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Interspersed with witty anecdotes and surprising observations on the nature of hearing, Cox’s work will give readers a new appreciation for both the odd and the ordinary noises that form the soundtrack of our daily lives. --Carl Hays

Review

“A riveting ear-opener, Trevor Cox describes in lyrical detail a range of sonic events and new ways of listening that can only brighten our experience of the acoustic world around us. A must-read for sound-lovers of all stripes.” (Bernie Krause, author of The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places)

“Cox reminds us not only of the sonic marvels we often miss, but also how those sounds affect us.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This small encyclopedia of strange sounds reveals how much art there is in the act of listening. Reading it made my ears more mindful.” (Adam Gopnik)

“A technological travelogue conducted by an expert tour guide, bursting with aural arcana that adds just the right amount of tech-savvy detail, The Sound Book brings into relief a world often obscured in our image-heavy existence. Even as we follow Cox to the ends of the Earth, what makes his book a real rush is that it's ultimately an ear-buzzing journey to the center of our minds.” (Greg Milner, Perfecting Sound Forever)

“An intriguing tour d’horizon of the world of sound.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Turns up the volume on…sonic oddities.” (NPR)

“[A] mission to make sound tourism the next big thing.” (Gemma Tarlach - Discover)

“From its first page to its last, The Sound Book invites readers to close their eyes and open their ears to the sounds, both normal and peculiar, that surround us all.” (Science News)

“Charming… From its first page to its last, The Sound Book invites readers to close their eyes and open their ears to the sounds, both normal and peculiar, that surround us all.” (Sid Perkins - Science News Magazine)

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Customer Reviews

A great read, very informative and fascinating.
Karen
A great book on the sounds that occur in nature and the influence that structures, natural and man-made, have on what we hear.
George R. Koonce
This book was ordered as a gift and the recipient was happy to get it.
Phyllis Poparad

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas C. Fletcher on August 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Trevor Cox is an acoustics professor in the UK who loves his work and has spent many years traveling and listening to any number of things that make sounds, some of them human-made, others natural.
I first heard of Prof. Cox and his new book on an NPR interview in early 2014. It sounded intriguing and is! This is not a scientific or engineering text; in fact, it's not very technical at all. What it is is a book of adventures by Prof. Cox as he travels and listens to things that are interesting; this includes auditoriums, underground storage facilities (which have some very interesting reverberations), singing sands, ancient Greek amphitheaters (yes they have very good acoustics, but no the ancients didn't know more than modern engineers).
He covers bird songs in some detail. There are a lot of birdwatchers out there, unfortunately there seem to be many less who listen to them.
He is an acoustics professor, but he covers so very many things that it's difficult to recall them all. It does whet the appetite for more and that's all to the good. Any number of the things discussed can be pursued by the avid reader -- perhaps a little more research online or even trying to make your own recordings. With the number of small portable computers on the market, a microphone or two, and a video camera you can capture sight and sound alike. A modest priced system should get the interested person started.
I could go on, but I won't; the list of things covered is large and it'll do you more good to read the book than to hear me go on and on about it.
If you want a technical book on any of the many areas of sound, from recording techniques to acoustics, to FFTs and DSPs,do look elsewhere; Amazon has many. But for a nice popular book with a sense of adventure, well written by a man who's not only an expert but obviously loves his calling, this is a very nice book indeed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H. R. Drackett on March 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Interesting to learn how musical instruments reverberate, as explanations for some of the great sonic spaces in nature and man made. I will now listen to everything differently, and as a result, hear my surroundings differently.
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Format: Hardcover
(This review refers to the audio CD edition which I purchased directly from Tantor Audio). This is an entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking book that examines a wide variety of acoustical effects. It may be a bit light on the science and a bit basic for the acoustical engineer, but for a lay person, it should be quite enlightening. Unfortunately, the audio edition did not fully capitalize on that medium to convey examples of sound described in the text, but it was still a quality production, Jonathan Cowley, the narrator, having a great voice and style for delivering the content.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anton Stayduhar on April 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those with scientific interest in acoustics, you'll find little science here. The book reads more like a tour guide, complete with over the top and unnecessary scenic detail, that falls far short of increasing anyone's knowledge of acoustics in more than the most elementary terms (and that's an understatement). Best placed in the travel section.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although I enjoyed the book, I was expecting more "science." Additionally, writing a book about sound is like giving a slide presentation about color photography - in black and white. Fortunately, I read the book on my kindle fire and on my Kindle for PC. This allowed me to highlight and then search the internet for audio files of his examples. That made it a lot more fun. Thank Amazon for this wonderful technology!! I love my Kindle.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an absolute gem for anyone who is curious about the world. Yes it's about sound, but it's a journey with a person who has so much to teach us about the world. You'll never wince from a subway train in quite the same way, nor will an autumn chorus of crickets ever escape you. I urge anyone to buy this book and cherish it. It will reward you over and over again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After hearing an interview with the author on NPR, I was intrigued enough to order this book. It was very much well worth it. If you're an audio engineer or lay-person interested in the way sound works in our world, you'll enjoy this book. From natural phenomena to man-made artifacts, both old and new, the way sound works in our world is intriguingly explored in a very easy to read manner. This is not a technical book, nor a difficult read - and neither is it unnecessarily dumbed-down either. Get it. You'll enjoy it!
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By pauli on June 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There was so much information, much of which I had never focused on before and/or thought about. Today, I listened to my favorite birds singing with an even more sensitive interest.
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