From our CD collections to iPods bursting with MP3s to the hallowed vinyl of DJs, recordings are the most common way we experience music. Yet their ubiquity has deafened us to how our understanding of music is shaped by the processes that create them. Perfecting Sound Forever tells the story of recorded music from Thomas Edison’s claim, in 1915, that he could perfectly capture the sound of a live performance, to the digital tools used today which create the illusion of performances that never were. Along the way, Greg Milner introduces the innovators, musicians, and producers – from Les Paul to Phil Spector to Neil Young – who have affected the way we hear our favorite songs and describes the major achievements, breakthroughs and failures in sound technology. Exploring the balance that recordings strike between the real and the represented, Greg Milner asks the questions which have divided sound recorders for the past century: should a recording document reality as faithfully as possible, or should it improve upon or somehow transcend the music it records? What does the perfect record sound like? The answers he uncovers will change the way we think about music.