The Must-Read Books on Music Production and Audio Engineering

library of audio books

Ah, the holidays. Time for a break from music production right?

Hmm…guess not.

If you’re like me you probably get super busy during most of the year. Sometimes I feel like I need to plan my day to the millisecond just so I can kick back and relax. School or work can really get in the way of learning something new but there’s nothing like the holidays to catch up on your favorite topic, audio production!

I’ve read a small shipping container’s worth of audio engineering material over the years but there are some books that stand out from the rest.

The following books are my all-time favorite books on audio production, books that I couldn’t have lived without when I was starting out.

Modern Recording Techniques

modern_recording_techniquesThis is the recording bible. If you want to get one book that has a broad overview of everything you need to know, this one comes closest.

I grew up on the fifth edition, but I believe the 7th is now out. It can get quite technical at times, but don’t get put off by the equations.

Most of the info in this book is easy to understand and the techniques are easy to implement.

Instrument and Vocal Recording

instrument and vocal recordingI use this book as a reference book whenever I’ve forgotten how to approach a specific recording situation.

This book is a part of the greater Hal Leonard Recording Method of books, each book teaching a specific subject. Instrument & Vocal Recording goes into details of how to record the most common instruments, such as drums, vocals and guitars.

The coolest thing about this book is how it gives you different solutions for different possible scenarios, like how to record drums if you only have one microphone. Definitely a great read for a solid understanding of the various recording techniques. 

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook

Mixing Engineers Handbook

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook is a goldmine of great mixing information.

I particularly like the production analysis section, something Bobby Owsinski still does on his blog.

It has a bunch of great interviews and great go-to starting points for compression and EQ’ing. The handy EQ charts are great for understanding the EQ spectrum as well as the jargon that goes along with it.

It really helped me out when I started mixing because it lays everything down in simple to understand terms.

The Art of Mixing: A Visual Guide Recording, Engineering, and Production

the-art-of-mixing-a-visual-guide-to-recording-engineering-and-productionThis book is awesome! Whether you like text or diagrams, this book combines the two for a much easier understanding.

It combines the mixing jargon with diagrams to show you how each genre is mixed differently. Just the diagrams in the middle are worth the price of the book, and it has so much more to offer!

By using a three-dimensional diagram you can better understand how various genres are mixed and how they all fit together in a 3D sound scape. A great book for a different perspective on mixing.

Master Handbook of Acoustics

master-sound-handbookAll of the books in this round-up are books that I have read and recommend highly. This book is on this list due to the recommendations of others. I bought it after a few engineers recommended it as the great bible of acoustics and I am currently reading it.

Acoustics is definitely one of the more important things to get right in your studio. If you record in rooms with lousy acoustics your sound will suffer. Similarly, if you mix in a control room with lackluster acoustics you are more likely to EQ incorrectly, add too much(or too little) bass or generally create an unbalanced mix.

The Master Handbook of Acoustics explains all the aspects of acoustic environments and teaches you how to create your own. Yes, it does have a bunch of math, but it also explains everything really well. It’s a great read for those that are looking into creating their own studio and want to know how to treat their rooms.

Behind the Glass: Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft the Hits

behind-the-glass-top-record-producers-tell-how-they-craft-the-hits.--largeThis book is stock-full of great information from the leaders of the field. It’s filled with insightful information from famous producers that share their secrets and approaches to making some of the greatest records of modern music.

It’s a pure interview book, there are no diagrams, equations or complex techniques to understand. It’s just a dialog between Howard Massey and some of the greatest producers of all time. Inspirational and insightful, it’s definitely one of my favorite books about audio.

There’s also a Volume II that’s equally awesome and has some of the newer producers responsible for the more recent hits in history.

Unlocking Creativity

unlocking creativityThis one is the newest on my list.

It’s one of my favorite books on music production because it bypasses all the technical crap that’s irrelevant to creating art. It’s not about the pre-amps or the microphones.

It’s about how the soul of the performance and the right artistic mindset can create truly great art.

I read this book immediately when it came out. I then gave it away to someone, I forget who. I immediately bought it again. I wouldn’t be surprised if I repeated this process multiple times over my lifetime.

 

What’s Your Favorite?

I think all the books above are some of the best-selling books about audio on the market. However, you might have a favorite I didn’t list, and you’re probably cursing me for it.

Add your favorite audio book and a comment about why you like it below. I’ll be sure to add it to the post the next time I update the list!

P.S.

If you’ve been following Audio Issues for a while you might know that I tend to stick to the basics most of the time.

I try to keep it simple and practical because that’s how you get 80% of the way there. Even if you’re a seasoned veteran in the industry it’s always good to have a beginner’s mind and keep a good grasp on the basics.

The Beginner’s Mind, or “Shoshin” is an interesting concept, especially when we’re thinking about all the technical aspects of mixing.

Instead of getting wrapped up in the technicalities, just use any tool at your disposal to take your mix to where you want it.

  • Think of your plug-ins as paintbrushes that add dynamics and contrast to your mixes.
  • Think of the mix as “getting more exciting” not “more technically perfect.”

Use plug-in bundles such as the Maserati or CLA packages as artistic devices that can take your parts to a newer level. Don’t stray away from using them just because you don’t see the nitty-gritty technical details they’re hiding behind the interface.

Think of your rough recording as a block of marble and your plug-ins are your chisels. It doesn’t matter what kind of plug-ins you are using, as long as the sculpture takes the shape you want it take. If you end up with a great mix after a rewarding creative effort on your part you’ve accomplished your goal, no matter how many “rules” you’ve broken.

The Beginner’s Mind is a great place to draw inspiration from, but I also understand that you have a need to improve and get more advanced in your mixing.

That’s why I wanted to draw your attention to Advanced Mixing from The Pro Audio Files:

Introducing Advanced Mixing

advanced mixingMatthew Weiss is behind the Advanced Mixing course and he’s pulled out all the stops to give you some truly in-depth and advanced techniques.

Like Dan Comerchero, editor of the Pro Audio Files told me:

“The course fuses a ton of nitty-gritty mixing techniques with his signature philosophical approach to mixing. This is his magnum opus of training courses.

He reveals actionable tips, tricks and techniques for getting a great mix out of any situation, as well as tons of of obscure creative ideas for using EQ, compression, MIDI and more on bass, guitars, dobro, drums, claps, stomps, vocals and the mix buss.”

If you’re looking to beef up your mixing skills with some new advanced techniques, head on over and check it out here:

www.audio-issues.com/advancedmixing

Image by: ShironekoEuro

  • Recording the Beatles could be the single greatest book ever written and the best $100+ I ever spent. John Keane’s Musician’s Guide to Pro Tools is fantastic for PT beginners. The Daily Adventures of Mixerman helps with perspective. Finally, though I used to think it was a great book back when I started in ’86, skip The Musician’s Guide to Home Recording by McIan and Wichman. Their intentions were good, but it’s light by today’s standards on specifics.

    • John

      Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki

      This is the book I recommend a lot.

    • John

      Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki

      This is the book I recommend a lot.

    • Yeah I guess in the span of almost 30 years the home recording business has changed a little 🙂

  • Luiz Freitag

    Nice ones, I’ve read some, will ckeck it out the others. The one I’m reading right now is “Mixing Secrets” by Mike Senior. It’s simple and clever, and explains really well some things that we all have heard, but nobody explains, also is helping me to organize my knowledge.
    Really worth the money, I’m reading the kindle version.

  • Mixing Secrets for the small studio by Mike Senior 
    Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki 
    Zen and the Art of Mixing by Mixerman 
    Mastering Audio, Second Edition: The art and the science by Robert A. Katz

    • Mixerman is always good. I read his diaries online, and I loved them

    • Uni-VERSE

      Amid all these book i was hoping someone would mention Bob Katz… I think he gives such comprehension knowledge and insight for everyone. What the essence of the book is that he teaches you to best prepare a song for mastering.

      I produce, write and mix and getting everything right at the most fundametal levels is essential. Im keen on Mixing strategies and think that is what the book will make mention of as well (seeing at BB does the same)

      • Yeah, I’ve heard about Bob Katz’s books but since I haven’t really read them I didnt’ want to recommend them. But that’s what you and this comment thread is for! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I wrote up a review on Mixing Secrets by Mike Senior you can read here.  Pro’s and con’s.
    http://www.behindthemixer.com/content/mixing-secrets-by-mike-senior-book-review

  • John

    Opps! My post should have went here! Sorry Reid!

    Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki

    This is the book I recommend a lot.

  • John

    Opps! My post should have went here! Sorry Reid!

    Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools by Roey Izhaki

    This is the book I recommend a lot.

  • I use Bobby Owsinski’s pair of books The Recording Engineer’s Handbook and The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook on sessions ALL THE TIME. The first has an index of classic mics and their traditional uses, also an index by instrument of mic techniques, a perfect compliment to the Mixing Engineer book above.
    Bobby runs two blogs that are great for music biz and production stuff alike. He’s pretty much the boss of print media for producers.
    Great post Bjorgvin!

    • Oh cool, I didn’t know that about The Recording Engineer’s Handbook. I’ll have to check that out, He also writes premium tuts for AudioTuts+ as well as his cool blogs.

  • Daniel Davies

    I love Mixing With Your Mind by Paul Stravrou. Some very interesting approaches to audio. Lots of tips and tricks that you won’t read anywhere else. His website often has some great tips too.
     http://www.mixingwithyourmind.com
    He also writes great articles for Audio Technology magazine in Australia. 

    • Theo Nt

      best audio engineering book in the market from my point of view…

  • Andre’

    Definitely Owsinski’s Mixing Engineer’s Handbook and Mixing Audio by Rhoey Izhaki

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  • Definitely a fan of Bobby Owsinski’s book. He was on Pensado’s Place talking about everything in it a couple months ago…Here’s a list of my favorites. Not all music related but all of them metabolized into my production side…. http://emeritus-hotel.blogspot.com/2013/05/10-books-that-made-me-better-at.html

  • Ivan

    Thanks for the list. The book that definitely helped me a lot is Internal Mixing by Friedemann Tischmeyer. Really excellent stuff if you’re mixing in the box. It totally changed the way I approach my mixes and they sound much better now thanks to the excellent insights and tips from the book 🙂
    BTW his video tutorials are also one of the most helpful ones out there!
    http://www.tischmeyer-mastering.de/pwde/content.asp?id=62&subid=74&sound=1&lang=EN

  • prabhaat sharma

    Hello Bjorgvin , I want to learn to make perfect professional Karaoke tracks from a song mp3. Please suggest that Which book can help me completely ? Please tell me methods and software which are used to make karaoke tracks. In India, Many people are making karaoke , But they do not provide their knowledge to others. I don’t want to make vocal cut karaoke, I actually want to learn to make original quality perfect professional karaoke tracks. No one from India helped me regarding this. I hope, Perhaps you may help me. Thanks.

    • Björgvin Benediktsson

      Sorry but I can’t help you. I don’t know how to, but I know you can’t make one from any recordings. Usually those karaoke versions are re-recordings of song without the vocal so unless you can find an instrumental version on the internet then I wouldn’t know where to start.

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  • Abbey Thomas

    Hi! I know literally nothing about sound engineering, but feel that as a musician I would like a basic understanding of it, as well as being able to record and basically mix some simple stuff to post online, or at least understand what kind of equipment I need. Which book is best for me as a complete beginner? Thanks in advance!