Best Books for Audio Engineers and Musicians

Exposed light bulbs showing shelves stacked high with books for audio engineers

As a lecturer in audio engineering and music production techniques, there is always one resource that I recommend to every student. That, of course, is books! Despite the fact that the internet is a seemingly endless source of knowledge, there is still plenty of misinformation that slips through the net. With books, you can be very certain that the information you read is correct because they all have to be proofread and fact-checked before publication. It’s for this reason that, while they might seem old-fashioned, I will always recommend learning from books. Today, I want to make a few suggestions on the best books for audio engineers as well as some great reads for the musicians out there.

The Best Books for Audio Engineers

First up, let’s take a look at some reading material for the engineers out there. From beginner to expert, this list will have something for everyone. I’ve kept it quite varied so that I’m not just providing you with how to books but rather something insightful and inspiring!

Recording Unhinged by Sylvia Massy

Some might consider this to be an unusual place to start. However, this is hands down one of my favourite books relating to engineering that I’ve ever read. This book compiles a whole bunch of wacky and unusual recording and production techniques. Techniques used by some of the greatest engineers and producers to have ever graced the music industry. As far as books for audio engineers go, this is my holy grail.

One of the big reasons for this being such a great book to read is just how inspiring it is. Even if you’re new to audio engineering and still have a lot to learn, this book will help to make the future seem just that much more exciting. It’s a book I recommend to all aspiring audio engineers that I meet or teach because it teaches you to be resourceful and to think outside the box. Sometimes, the audio world can be confined by too many industry rules that don’t really exist. The motto that this book helps to teach is that if it sounds good, it’s right.

A small mixing desk in a small studio space

Mixing Secrets in the Small Studio by Mike Senior

A book by Mike Senior on mixing tricks is bound to be a valuable tool to have. A renowned engineer and writer, Seniors book not only teaches invaluable mixing lessons but also offers a universal appeal. Absolute beginners to experienced engineers will definitely take something away from reading this book. This is why this one is on the list of best books for audio engineers.

For any home studio owners reading, this is probably one of the best ones for you to pick up. Seniors book works to show how great results can be achieved regardless of studio size and available facilities. This is always an important notion to understand at any level. If you don’t have access to great gear, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do great work. Equally, all the best audio equipment in the world won’t make a good mix if you don’t understand it. In my opinion, this one is well worth a read.

Zen and the Art of Mixing by Mixerman

Mixermans books have always stood in a class of their own. They tend to be very opinionated and targeted more towards those looking to work in the music industry in a professional capacity. However, the defining point of this book is the marriage of science an art. How mixing, whilst complex and precise, should still be viewed and treated just like the creation of music.

A large format mixing console

An insightful and humorous read, Zen and the Art of Mixing is a fantastic insight into the industry that is oozing with handy tips and suggestions for ways to improve your own work. This is definitely one of the best books for audio engineers but it’s also just a great book for anyone that’s interested in what happens in the recording studio. Pick up a copy and get some zen into your life.

The Recording Engineer’s HandbookThe Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski

Finally, we come onto a pair of books written by producer and engineer Bobby Owsinski. Like the titles suggest, these are the types of books that are great to read but also great to have sitting around in the studio. Even for experienced engineers, they are incredibly useful for double checking things and confirming your own ideas. Can’t remember a thing about mixing drums? Forgotten the difference between a compressor and an audio limiter? These books have got you covered.

Unlike the previous books in this list, these are a little more fact-filled and a little less storytelling. If what you’re looking for are cold, hard facts about the way to do things then look no further. I feel that these are the perfect way to round off a list of the best books for audio engineers. Concise, helpful and truly motivating.

Two hands on a mixing desk

The Best Books for Musicians

Now I could just rattle off a list of books on electric guitar chords or how to write songs. Instead, these last couple of books are going to be aimed more at the idea of being a successful musician. This, to me, seems far more valuable. Whilst I say these books are great for musicians, they could also be considered the best books for audio engineers as well. Whether you write music or record it, you’re still a creative person. As such, these books might just help you out.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This is a fantastic read for anyone that struggles with creative hangups. I love engineering and producing other peoples music. It never ceases to please me. I also love to make my own music, but that regularly frustrates me. I’ll sometimes go for months without making anything, putting roadblocks in my way and making excuses for myself.

The War of Art isn’t just some self-help guide. It’s a great device for tearing down the things that stop you from being creative. It will help you to realise the resistive forces that stop you from being creative whilst pushing you to get things done and remove distractions from your life. Great for anyone who is creative but struggles to really progress their art.

A pencil drawing the word creative

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

With over 25 million copies sold, I don’t think anyone can doubt the power of this book. This book seeks to help you take control of your life, reassess your goals and become an effective and efficient creative individual. Plenty of fantastic advice coupled with great suggestions and challenges make this book a perfect read for musicians. Especially those that struggle with finishing songs, doubting their work, or sticking to goals and deadlines.

TL;DR

Books really are invaluable. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a total pro, there will certainly be something you can learn from a book. The best books for audio engineers, for me, cover basic facts as well as interesting and unusual ideas. They make you think, inspire ideas, and hopefully teach you something new. If you’re looking to learn, make sure to check out something on this list.

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