A Vintage Odyssey cover image, featuring a vintage microphone.
Courtesy Rowman & Littlefield

The History of Vintage Recording Gear, Written by an All-Knowing Industry Veteran

Dan Alexander’s new book is a passionate, extensive study of classic audio equipment.
By Tom Morris
December 19, 2020
2 minute read

Music is art, according to Los Angeles–based musician and sound engineer Dan Alexander, who, since 1967, has bought and sold vintage recording gear (he’s also credited with coining the term “vintage” in the context of audio). This philosophy charges his forthcoming book, Dan Alexander Audio: A Vintage Odyssey (Rowman & Littlefield), a lyrical, emotive study of classic audio equipment. The 440-page tome comes with all the geekery one expects from a seasoned audiophile like Alexander, whose expert eye dissects products by 22 manufacturers, illustrated by hundreds of never-before-seen photographs and original sales brochures. There are also elaborate lists, including a catalogue of the more than 7,500 pieces of gear he sold between 1979 and 2000 (complete with each piece’s serial number, sale price, and buyer), as well as an inventory of every type of microphone produced by the German manufacturer Telefunken from 1928 to 1980.

Elsewhere, the author’s passion for his subject sings out of the pages—whether it’s in the section on the Redd mixing console used by the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios (“It certainly is the most iconic and charismatic piece of gear I’ve ever encountered,” Alexander writes) or a description of what he deems the “most valuable microphone in the world” (the Telefunken Ela M270 #101, currently residing in the personal collection of Nashville sound engineer John McBride). “It took me five years to complete,” Alexander says of the all-encompassing, labor-of-love project. “I learned that writing books is even harder than building studios.”