“The Perfect Sound, A Memoir in Stereo”
by Garrett Hongo, poet, professor and audiophile.
This book is a wonderful read, incorporating life’s trials and tribulations with a search for better and better music reproduction. Hongo shares his life story while incorporating the importance of music and HiFi in his life throughout the book. He was born in Hawaii where he spent his early years listening to Hawaiian music. His family then moved to Los Angeles where he spent his adolescence trying to figure out where he fit in society and finding music that spoke to him which included R&B. On to college and then pursuing a career as a poet, Hongo expanded his listening experience to include opera, classical, blues and jazz.
All through the description of his life’s story, Hongo describes in detail his different listening experiences. From tube-swapping sessions with his father on a Dynakit amp his father had built, to his search for his own HiFi equipment that he sought to convey the emotions he felt while attending live opera; he describes and catalogues the various speakers, amps, cables, etc. he tried during his quest for better and more accurate music reproduction. The descriptions of songs and artists intermingled throughout the memoir represent milestones in his musical path are more than a music review, they dig deep into the passion and musical connection he felt. Hongo also includes some history of HiFi equipment (tubes, mono, stereo) and musical instruments (lyres, pre-electric guitars) that provide interesting context to the path of improving music reproduction.
Other interesting pieces included in the memoir are visits with musicians, reviewers (including Fremer), HiFi shows, poets and foreign travel drawing the reader into some fascinating life experiences by the author.
Garrett Hongo currently lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon.