A generally thorough analysis of a much-misunderstood topic. Many writers have produced books and articles on amplifier design, but only a few have explored the topic in a truly scientific fashion. Many writers instead adopt a "cookery" approach, citing "ingredients" as the key to a good design (e.g. special capacitors and resistors, silver wire etc.) but with no clear justification except their own (biased?) personal claims of superior sonic performance. As a seasoned professional electronics design engineer, and at the same time an audiophile, I suspect many of these "designers" are using speculation and opinion to account for effects or perceptions that are better explained by psycho-acoustics... (...and I can back up that from some experiments I've carried out on other audio enthusiast friends). The real problem arises, though, when this sort of superstition is used as a substitute for a clear and proper understanding.
Read the papers and book by Floyd Toole (e.g. Sound Reproduction: The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms) for lots more about psycho-acoustics and a tour-de-force of how how we hear and perceive sound.
Love him or hate him, Douglas Self at least avoids the sort of traps I'm admittedly ranting about above, and refreshingly (for me at least) confines himself to demonstrable facts. Some of his comments will inevitably be ill-received by the subjective audio community - see above - but his challenge is simple enough: if your approach really sounds better, then prove it. For example, he recommends we use blind listening tests under properly controlled conditions. Hopefully someone will rise to this challenge and perhaps subjective reviews will gain a better standing; and if Self is proven wrong in the fullness of time, then we'll have really learned something.
Some of my design philosophies differ from his, and there is certainly no shortage of other opinion out there! But whether or not you end up agreeing 100% with Mr. Self doesn't really matter. Either way, this book remains an excellent tutorial in the nitty-gritty of power amplifier design. In particular I found the breakdown of the amplifier into its key stages,and the discussion of how these stages interact, most illuminating.
Study of this book will help amplifier designers of all persuasions in understanding and optimising their work, and I throughly recommend it.
Self is clearly an expert in his field and advocates a logical approach to audio amplifier design.
Sadly this is overshadowed a poor and irritating style of presenting information. As well as an extensive rant against subjectivism (where a paragraph would have sufficed). Throughout the text Self is perpetually telling the reader how he is the authority on the subject and correcting various fallacies that have been published by others. His points may well be true, but good technical texts present the bare technical facts and allow them to speak for themselves. Perhaps the occasional technical critisism of others is appropriate, however, the text is littered with the author's personal agenda. Also his means of expressing technical information is exceptionally rambling. I guess this is to allow for the lay reader ? Douglas, could you produce an Engineer's version of the book that includes a few more equations and a far more concise text ?