The Must-Read Books on Music Production and Audio Engineering
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
This 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
I 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
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
This 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
All 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
This 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.
This 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.
Step By Step Mixing: Great Mixes With 5 Plug-ins
I’d be selling myself short if I didn’t add my very own book to the list: Step By Step Mixing: How to Create Great Mixes With Only 5 Plug-ins.
It regularly tops the best-seller lists on Amazon, and it’s helped thousands of engineers and musicians make a bigger impact with their music.
It’s ranked higher than books by both Geoff Emerick (the engineer of the Beatles), and Mike Senior (one of the brightest minds in home studio mixing).
Selling Better than the Beatles!
It’s flattering to say the least, and getting reviews like these ones really hit it home for me as well:
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 production book and a comment about why you like it below.
Image by: ShironekoEuro
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