The best books for audio engineering, mixing and production

These days, it’s spectacularly easy to put vast amounts of studio power in the corner of your bedroom. Just grabbing an Avid Fast Track with the bundled Pro Tools Express gives you more technical power than was used to produce many of the albums you probably regard as ‘classic’. But, if you’re a newcomer to recording, or are a comparative ‘old hand’ and want to improve your skills and knowledge, then we have a treat for you! Here is Red Dog Music’s selection of some of the best books for audio engineering, mixing and production to make you an audio expert!

Best books for audio production

While you can learn nearly all you need to know these days from YouTube videos, the classic form of the printed word remains as important as ever. While short video clips are great for learning how to do particular things in your DAW, or what EQ settings to use on an acoustic guitar, they can often be overly specific.

For example, an online video may tell you to boost and cut particular frequencies on the distorted guitar playing muted power chords in a particular track, but what if your track features different instruments to the video? What if a different singer’s voice needs an EQ ‘hole’ created for it at a different space in the track? If you know the underlying principles of EQing, you’ll be in a better position to make your own judgments and adapt to particular situations.

Equally, if you know the principles of analogue and digital audio, how they work, how to balance headroom with the signal to noise ratio for recording at a particular word length etc, then you’ll be able to set up appropriate signal paths and gain structures for virtually any setup, rather than just knowing how to do it for particular pieces of equipment.

Also, there’s something just nice about having a nice couple of reference books sitting in your studio, there for, well, reference when you need. Textbooks are also handy as you find out solutions for problems you never knew existed.

With an internet search, you’ll get answers to the questions you ask; with a book, you’ll get answers to the ones you didn’t.

With all that said, let’s take a look at some of our favourite books to make you an audio expert!

Best books for audio technology and engineering

The best books for audio engineering - Mastering Audio by Bob Katz

Mastering Audio- the art and the science by Bob Katz. Truly THE book. Don’t be put off by the use of the word ‘Mastering’ in the title, Mastering Audio- the art and the science is a superb introduction to digital audio and provides an excellent overview of compression, eq, dithering, monitoring and much more.

Mastering Audio also contains a plethora of handy explanations and definitions such as the difference between level and gain, dBu and dBFS and plenty of the technical nitty gritty that you’ll want to know.

And it also comes with a handy Carnegie Chart!

Modern Recording Techniques by David Miles Huber & Robert E Runstein. With over 600 pages of information, there is plenty in Modern Recording Techniques to keep you going for quite some time!

Beginning with a great introduction into the recording studio and the business and covering everything from what sound is and how we hear it to the manufacture of the finished product, via all the important bases of studio acoustics, microphone placement, the digital audio workstation (DAW), dynamic range as well as a sections on the mixing and mastering stages of  the process, this book is a superb reference if you want to get your hands dirty and get up to speed with all aspects of recording technology and production.

Combine all of this with the online resources for training your ears to recognise the subtle problems to look out for and to get to the point where you can listen to a sound and say “that needs a 3 dB cut at 2.7k”, and this all adds up to a cracking resource.

The Audio Expert by Ethan Winer. This is my sort of book; I don’t have appropriate scales to hand, but there must be at least a couple of pounds of book here.

And these aren’t just any old pages. Oh no. They have graphs; and charts; and flow charts; and electrical diagrams; and just all sorts of things that audio techy nerds like myself just love.

Of course, it also has tables full of all those things you want to know and covers areas such as analogue and FM synthesis, how to measure your room’s frequency response and how digital audio works.

A cracking read that, while having a fair few equations in it, doesn’t assume that you want to derive them from first principles.

Best books for mixing and production

The best books for mixingMixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior and The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski.

What to say about these two, really? They are simply both wonderful guides to the world of the mix engineer and how to go about getting your mix to take shape.

With sections discussing how to begin your mixing session, from cleaning up your DAW session and getting organised, to compressing, eqing, volume automating and all that good stuff, Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio and The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook are both great references for the aspiring mix engineer.

Behind the Glass Volume II by Howard Massey. It’s all very well being technical; and, obviously, you’re going to want to know how to set up your outboard or your DAW for parallel compression, and know how to add ‘air’ to a vocal, or compress a bass guitar to within an inch of its life, but there’s more to it than that. You need to know when

The best books for productionBehind the Glass Volume II by Howard Massey gives you access to the production secrets of some of the world’s biggest producers. Daniel Lanois, Hugh Padgham, Jimmy Douglass, Bruce Swedien (best moustache in production), T-Bone Burnett and plenty more spill the beans on how they work.

Do you pull all the faders up and start sculpting with EQ? Do you craft the perfect vocal sound first and fit the track in around it? Do you work on the drums and bass so that the rhythm section is tight before you get to work on the rest of the mix?

In Behind the Glass, the top producers reveal how they work, and why…

Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and our London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

 

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Fynn Callum

producer, guitarist, engineer & dj
From indie guitarist to deep house producer via Northern Soul dj; mix engineer, producer and gear enthusiast. Jaffa Cake aficionado.

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