In print for almost half a century, the eighth edition of Vance Dickason’s loudspeaker bible is as relevant as ever.
Vance Dickason’s Loudspeaker Design Cookbook (ISBN 9798549209930) is as much an institution as it is simply a dense volume on the theory and practice of speaker design. I say that not only because, with its eighth edition, it’s been around now for 46 years, but because it is and always has been truly unique. There are quite a few books on speaker design out there, but no other is quite like Vance Dickason’s.
Along with his very long‑term commitment to writing about speaker design and engineering, Vance has a parallel career as a speaker design consultant working across pretty much every sector where speakers are present — from simple consumer electronics products, through in‑car audio to the highest of high‑end hi‑fi. He’s also the editor of Voice Coil, the loudspeaker designer’s trade magazine (I bet you didn’t know we speaker geeks have our own monthly magazine). Vance, perhaps as much as anybody else in the speaker design world, has earned the right to author the definitive book on the subject.
While I’d wager that the majority of Loudspeaker Design Cookbook readers fall into the ‘amateur speaker‑building hobbyist’ category and probably live in the US (where speaker building as a hobby is rather more popular than it is in the UK), I’d also wager that if you were to glance along the reference bookshelf in pretty much any professional speaker R&D office you’d find a copy of LDC. And the reason for that goes back to to a word I used up in the first sentence: dense. If you could rank technical books in terms of nuggets of information per paragraph, LDC would be up near the top of the charts.
There’s quite a few books on speaker design out there, but no other is quite like Vance Dickason’s.
Beginning, as it does, with chapters on subjects that cover the deep nuts and bolts of basic loudspeaker engineering, electro‑acoustic theory, enclosure construction and crossover design, LDC at first glance looks perhaps a little too niche for the typical Sound On Sound reader. But for the eighth edition, along with very significant revisions and expansions of existing material, and a brand‑new chapter on computer‑based speaker design tools, Vance has added a couple of chapters towards the end of the book that cover room acoustics and room correction systems, and the history, engineering and application of studio monitors. For those of us for whom these subjects are of day‑job significance, I think these two chapters are worth the LDC purchase price alone. And once you’ve got used to Vance’s straightforward yet engaging writing style, one that manages to make approachable even the most complex electro‑acoustic concepts, I reckon the rest of the book will begin to draw you in. You’ll become a speaker geek by stealth.
LDC is not a book you’ll read from cover to cover, and nobody’s ever going to write that it’s ‘unputdownable’, but as a resource to dip in and out of and which contains a very significant proportion of everything there is to know about the practice of speaker design, it is unique and completely unrivalled.
Comprehensive and engaging, Loudspeaker Design Cookbook is essential reading for any budding speaker designer.