As an audio engineer you have an obligation to never stop learning. When an artist or production house hires you for a new project, they are expecting you to be the best of your peers. It’s no surprise that for many, that expectation will be built on your practical experience. But when it comes down to it, you will also be judged on your knowledge of theory and new and emerging trends. This is because as technology changes, so to does the practise of audio engineering as a whole.
To be the very best at what you do takes more than just going to music production school and gathering your 10,000 hours, it means keeping the pursuit of knowledge alive and seeking new information. Whether you are just starting out or farther along in your career, here are some books that will greatly help you broaden your horizons.
Modern Recording Techniques
Author: David Miles Huber
David Miles Huber’s Modern Recording Techniques is the Bible when it comes to audio engineering. You will find this book in almost every AE / music production class as it is the authoritative textbook for audio engineers, old and new. This best-selling book will teach you everything you need to know about music production both from a technological point of view and from a creative standpoint.
From this book, you will learn how to get the best use out of your studio, whether it be live or digital, with useful info about working with DAWs (Digital Audio Workspaces), networked audio, MIDI, signal processing and more. Now in its ninth version, Modern Recording Techniques has been modified to reflect the most recent updates for common DAW systems, plus signal processing, and mixing and mastering.
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook
Author: Bobby Owsinski
As technology made computers smaller and smaller, thus shrinking the requirements of studio spaces, audio engineering became accessible to everyone with a few hundred bucks. The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook explores this new world of audio engineering, breaking down the process for engineers of all calibers, from the DIY basement studio mixers to the full size studio owner.
One of the most useful aspects of the book is it’s breakdown of the mix into six elements. Owsinski offers numerous tips and tricks on how to maximize interest through a balanced mix. This book also offers a number of lessons on advanced tools such as automation, pitch correction, sound replacement and more.
Audio Engineering 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Music Production
Author: Tim Dittmar
You’d be hard-pressed to find a list of books out there on this topic without Tim Dittmar’s brilliant Audio Engineering 101: A beginner’s Guide to Music Production. As the title suggests, this book breaks down the entire music production process from mic placement to mixing in a easy to read and relatable manner.
You’ll learn about the different types of microphones and best uses for each, analog recording, digital recording, mixing, mastering and everything in between. I highly suggest this book for anyone running their own studio, whether you’re just about to get started or already have a few years under your belt.
All You Need To Know About The Music Business
Author: Donald S. Passman
Understanding how to produce music is one thing, but how to run a business in the music industry is something else completely. This book is the quintessential guide to getting started in the music industry in a broad sense. Producers, artists, music lawyers, managers and more–if you want to work in music, this book will tell you everything you need to know. Passman provides insight into nearly every corner of the industry, such as navigating a record deal, organizing tours, negotiating music licensing and more.
Although All You Need To Know About The Music Business has been around for 20 years, now in its ninth edition, it has been recently updated to include current industry trends and technological changes.
Hack The Music Business
Author: Dave Kusek
For musicians and producers looking to get a running start on their business, Hack The Music Business is a must-read. Written with the modern-day business owner in mind, this book will teach you tips and trick on how to survive as a one-man business, as opposed to the old days of record deals and big label money.
Indie musicians these days have to operate as a start-up business, which is why Kusek wrote this book. Based on 20 years experience, Kusek shares his insights on touring, recording, writing, self-promotion, writing and producing. While this book doesn’t have a lot to offer in way of hands-on music producing, the knowledge that it will teach you about the industry as a whole is invaluable.
The Song Machine: Inside The Hit Factory
Author: John Seabrook
What makes a hit song a hit? Is it having a new hook every couple of seconds? Is it the melody, or the chord structure it’s written in? All of these questions and more are answered in John Seabrook’s astounding book The Song Machine: Inside The Hit Factory. Examining some of the greatest pop tracks of all time from the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry and more, Seabrook takes us behind the board and into the minds of some of the industry’s most successful producers including Max Martin and Dr. Luke. By examining the psychology of why we like what we like, Seabrook is able to provide concrete evidence for what makes a song a “hit”.