What do you need to know as a music producer or audio engineer? And how can you learn music production and audio engineering? With this list of best books on music production and audio engineering, you will boost your learning curve!
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Music production and audio engineering are about so much more than what most people assume. It is a complex world where multiple fields of music and technology come together. In the end, it’s all about music making!
As a music producer, you need knowledge about songwriting, mixing, recording and arranging. That’s why for example you want to read books about music production. As an audio engineer, it will definitely benefit you to know a thing or two about mixing and writing music.
There are many music production books and audio engineering resources out there, but not all of them are complete, up-to-date or accurate. So are there any good books on music production? Yes there are! And that’s why in this list I will only recommend books for music producers and audio engineering books that I have personally read.
To make this list easier for you to navigate and read, I have divided the music books into different categories. Also, if you are more into songwriting or music composition then I recommend you check out my list of the 12 best songwriting books for songwriters and my list of the best books for music composition.
Music Production: Mixing and Mastering Books
1. Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior
Mixing Secrets by Mike Senior is as complete as it gets when it comes to learning how to mix. This is the ultimate resource for students who are just starting to learn how to mix music. But it also has enough interesting tips and tricks for the more seasoned mixing student. If that’s not enough, each chapter has very elaborate online videos and sound materials. Here is a short description:
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio is the best-selling primer for small-studio enthusiasts who want chart-ready sonics in a hurry. Drawing on the back-room strategies of more than 160 famous names, this entertaining and down-to-earth guide leads you step-by-step through the entire mixing process. On the way, you’ll unravel the mysteries of every type of mix processing, from simple EQ and compression to advanced spectral dynamics and “fairy dust” effects. User-friendly explanations introduce technical concepts on a strictly need-to-know basis, while chapter summaries and assignments are perfect for school and college use.
2. Mixing Audio by Roey Izhaki
The book ‘Mixing Audio’ by Roey Izhaki is an absolute must-have book! It has so many great tips and techniques that will teach you all about mixing music. But not only limited to that. All this information is essential when you want to explore the world of music production and audio engineering. Also, I find the book to be really pleasant to read. It’s an absolute easy read and not boring at all. The online materials are perfect to help you along with your mixing journey. Here is a short description:
Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices, and Tools, Third Edition is a vital read for anyone wanting to succeed in the field of mixing. This book covers the entire mixing process – from fundamental concepts to advanced techniques. Packed full of photos, graphs, diagrams, and audio samples, it teaches the importance of a mixing vision, how to craft and evaluate your mix, and then take it a step further. The book describes the theory, the tools used, and how these are put into practice while creating mixes.
3. Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science by Bob Katz
This book is as complete as it gets. And what I like is that it is practical and not too long of a read. If you want to become better at music production and audio engineering by reading and learning about mastering music, then this is your book. Mastering Audio by Bob Katz is a book that you will see on any music producer’s or audio engineer’s bookshelf. Here is a short description:
Become a master of audio. This bestselling book has shown thousands of mixing and mastering engineers, musicians, A&R producers how to create great sound. It fully integrates technical with artistic and is ideal for students and working professionals. Mastering Audio is your complete reference: don’t leave the studio without it!
4. Audio Production and Critical Listening by Jason Corey
Together with the online tools that are available, I find this to be a very solid book. So if you want to really develop critical listening skills and knowledge about production mixing then you should read it. It’s a bit of a tough read so you cannot read it on the fly like Mixing Audio by Roey Izhaki or Mixing Secrets by Mike Senior. But nevertheless, it is a valuable resource for people who want to learn all aspects of audio engineering. Here is a short description:
Audio Production and Critical Listening: Technical Ear Training, Second Edition develops your critical and expert listening skills, enabling you to listen to audio like an award-winning engineer. Featuring an accessible writing style, this new edition includes information on objective measurements of sound, technical descriptions of signal processing, and their relationships to subjective impressions of sound. It also includes information on hearing conservation, ear plugs, and listening levels, as well as bias in the listening process.
The interactive web browser-based “ear training” software practice modules provide experience in identifying various types of signal processes and manipulations. Working alongside the clear and detailed explanations in the book, this software completes the learning package that will help you train your ears to listen and really “hear” your recordings.
Recording and Audio Engineering
5. Recording Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior
Being able to record your songs and music as well as possible is an essential skill for a music producer or audio engineer. That’s why this is also a recommended book for music producers. Luckily Mike Senior who also writes articles for the famous Sound on Sound, has made a comprehensive guide.
Especially for all the musicians, songwriters, composers, and producers who make music at home or in a small studio. Each chapter also has elaborate online materials that you can listen to and read. This book is highly recommended as an audio engineer resource for beginners or intermediate engineers. Here is a short description:
Recording Secrets for the Small Studio is based on the backroom strategies of more than 250 famous names. This thorough and down-to-earth guide leads you through a logical sequence of practical tasks to build your live-room skills progressively from the ground up, with user-friendly explanations that introduce technical concepts on a strictly need-to-know basis. On the way, you’ll unravel the mysteries of many specialist studio tactics and gain the confidence to tackle a full range of real-world recording situations.
Specifically designed for small-studio enthusiasts, this book provides an intensive training course for those who want a fast track to releasing quality results, while the chapter summaries, assignments, and extensive online resources are perfect for school and college use.
6. The Recording Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski
Some things that I found missing in other books were clear pictures of multiple different recording techniques. And that is exactly what I found in this book. Bobby Owsinski has written many books about music production and audio engineering.
If you want to record an acoustic guitar but don’t know how? Just look it up. Want to record voiceovers? Just go to the pages where everything about voiceovers is explained. I really love this book. It’s easy to read and navigate. A superb music production book and audio engineering companion! Here is a short description:
The Recording Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski has become a music industry standard found in studios all over the world, and this fully updated fifth edition once again offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the art of audio recording. Written with today’s technology and workflows in mind, The Recording Engineer’s Handbook Fifth Edition is a must-have resource for anyone interested in recording either in their home or a commercial studio.
7. Modern Recording Techniques by David Miles Huber
If you are looking for one of the most complete books on music production and audio engineering books then look no further. This is the ultimate handbook and maybe the most complete audio engineering resource for beginners and professionals. I often catch myself grabbing this book just to check some things. Of course, you cannot read everything, but that’s the great thing about this book. You just take it, look up your topic and put it back. It’s super handy! So as a valuable music and recording resource, I definitely advise you to buy it.
Here is a short description:
Modern Recording Techniques is the bestselling, authoritative guide to sound and music recording. Whether you’re just starting out or are looking for a step-up in the industry, Modern Recording Techniques provides an in-depth read on the art and technologies of music production. It’s a must-have reference for all audio bookshelves.
Using its familiar and accessible writing style, this ninth edition has been fully updated, presenting the latest production technologies and includes in-depth coverage of the DAW, networked audio, MIDI, signal processing and much more.
Music Theory and Songwriting
As a music producer, it is essential that you know a thing or two about music theory and songwriting. Music production and audio engineering is not only about the technical aspect of audio and music. This is not a standard repertoire like audio engineering resources, but I believe it is a must to learn.
8. Great Songwriting Techniques by Jack Perricone
This is hands down the best book a songwriter could read. The first time I picked up this book I was amazed by how clearly everything was explained. Practically any topic ranging from writing melodies to amazing chord progressions is covered. Jack Perricone has delivered a masterpiece and if you only buy one book from this list, then let it be this one. This will be one of the only songwriting books for music producers you’ll need. Here is the short description:
Perricone teaches readers with a targeted series of lessons on key elements of songwriting from building blocks like melody, harmony, and rhythm to more advanced topics like lyric placement and tone texture. Chapters explore loop-based harmonic patterns, tone tendencies, form, function, and lyric writing, all in service of preparing the aspiring songwriter to be a master of prosody and keen in
understanding the relationship between words and music.
9. Chord Progressions For Songwriters by Richard Scott
If you want to dive into chord progressions. Then here you go! Chord Progressions For Songwriters by Richard Scott is an amazing resource. There is enough to explore for an entire songwriting career. And I should not forget to mention that you will find chord progressions that will inspire you greatly. All in all this book is a creativity bomb. Here is the short description:
Each chapter of Chord Progressions For Songwriters provides a comprehensive self-contained lesson on one of twenty-one popular chord progressions that every songwriter should know inside and out. Lessons cover ascending, basic (I-IV), blues, circle (VI-II-V-I), classic rock (I-bVII-IV), combination, descending, doo-wop (I-VIm-IV-V), ending, flamenco (Im-bVII-bVI-V), folk (I-V), introduction, jazz (IIm-V-I), minor blues, one-chord, pedal point, rock and roll (I-IV-V), standard (I-VIm-IIm-V), and turnaround progressions as well as rhythm and Coltrane changes.
If you want to learn more creative songwriting techniques and hear them in action then check out my video tutorial playlist called: Songwriting Tips & Music Theory for Composing Music. Or check out all the educational music videos and articles on this site.
Music Industry: Marketing and Productivity
10. How To Make It in the New Music Business by Ari Herstand
For me, this book was a revelation. And I think I have read it three times already. Strictly it is not really like any of the books about music production, but it is a must-read! Ari Herstand has done a fantastic job of lining up important things that you need to know and do as somebody who wants to earn money making or doing music.
If you ever thought that you only need to know the creative and technical things then you are definitely wrong. Today’s music business is so versatile and there is just so much competition from other music producers, musicians, composers and audio engineers who are hitting it out of the ballpark. It truly is an indispensable guide for anybody interested in the music industry. Here is a short description:
How to Make It in the New Music Business, since its first publication in 2016, has become the go-to resource for musicians eager to make a living in a turbulent industry. Widely adopted by ambitious individuals and music schools across the world and considered “the best how-to book of its kind” (Music Connection), this essential work has inspired tens of thousands of aspiring artists to stop waiting around for that “big break” and take matters into their own hands. In this highly anticipated new edition, Ari Herstand reveals how to build a profitable career with the many tools at our fingertips in the post-COVID era and beyond, from conquering social media and mastering the digital landscape to embracing authentic fan connection and simply learning how to persevere.
11. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Essentialism by Greg McKeown is one of those books that makes sense from the beginning. Nowadays we just want to do everything at the same time. Multitasking is hip and buzzing. But does that really work? Learn how to do more by doing less. Here is a short description:
Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, and then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.
Biographies and Books About Music Producers
12. Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick
Not only fun for Beatles fans! This book gives you a very juicy, fun and inspirational insight into the recording process of the biggest band in the world. Apart from being a very interesting and entertaining read, this book is full of music production and audio engineering tips and tricks. So I really consider this to be one of the easiest-to-read audio engineering resources out there. Here is a short description:
An all-access, firsthand account of the life and music of one of history’s most beloved bands–from an original mastering engineer at Abbey Road.
Geoff Emerick became an assistant engineer at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in 1962 at age fifteen and was present as a new band called the Beatles recorded their first songs. He later worked with the Beatles as they recorded their singles “She Loves You” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the songs that would propel them to international superstardom. In 1964 he would witness the transformation of this young and playful group from Liverpool into professional, polished musicians as they put to tape classic songs such as “Eight Days A Week” and “I Feel Fine.”
Then, in 1966, at age nineteen, Geoff Emerick became the Beatles’ chief engineer, the man responsible for their distinctive sound as they recorded the classic album Revolver, in which they pioneered innovative recording techniques that changed the course of rock history. Emerick would also engineer the monumental Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road albums are considered by many the greatest rock recordings of all time.
In Here, There and Everywhere he reveals the creative process of the band in the studio, and describes how he achieved the sounds on their most famous songs.
13. The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Ruben
Rick Ruben. Do I need to say more? For anybody interested in music production or audio engineering, this name should ring a bell. This surprising and inspiring book should be on any musician’s or music producer’s shelf. Actually, anybody in the art scene should have read it! Here is a short description:
Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound that has its day. Rick Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can home in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable.
Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.
The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distils the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments—and lifetimes—of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us.
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