Garrett Hongo, a professor of poetry at the University of Oregon, ... has spent the last few decades searching for the perfect hi-fi system. His book “The Perfect Sound: A Memoir in Stereo” is itself a stereo recording, with autobiography in one channel and his search for the best sound in the other—a search that involves learning about different kinds of tubes, impedance, transformers and circuit design. It’s about Hawaii and exploring his family tree. Mr. Hongo’s late father, an electronics technician at Learjet, was partly deaf but loved music and had an extensive record collection. As the author, now 70, tries to reconnect to memories of the man and connect the pieces of his own childhood, he is also connecting and reconnecting dozens of audio cables in different configurations. And, like the recent movies “Licorice Pizza” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” his memoir is a paean to old Los Angeles—Felix Chevrolet, Hawthorne Boulevard, the mostly Japanese-American suburb of Gardena, the aerospace industry. Along the way Mr. Hongo provides one of the most colorful accounts of ’60s-era adolescent sexual fumbling I’ve ever read. I won’t spoil the ending, but his is an amazing story—deliciously wonky, exquisitely paced, and with a surprise artfully revealed.

‘The Perfect Sound’ Review: Quest for a Groove
Can the right turntable or the ideal amp bring a listener to musical nirvana? Garrett Hongo was determined to find out.