10 Books on Audio Engineering That Will Change Your Life

Reading is my favorite thing to do besides making music. And when I get to read about music, that’s the sweet spot. 

So after doing some research, I’ve decided on the top 10 best audio engineering books (plus one bonus book). Collectively, they cover every aspect of capturing and polishing audio - recording, mixing, and mastering

Whether you’re an audio engineer with a day job or if music is your full-time gig, these books can be a huge help to you.

P.S. This article was ​written by Caleb J. Murphy. He ​actively runs a blog ​all about being a musician while having a day job. Definitely check it out if that's something that interests you. Now let's get down to the book choices.

mixing secrets for the small studio

Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio

Written by Mike Senior

Key ​Topics You’ll ​Learn:

  • Methods for editing, arranging, and monitoring during mixing
  • Ways to avoid rookie mixing mistakes
  • Tips on what (and what not) to spend money on
  • Advice from expert engineers, like Michael Brauer (Coldplay, John Mayer), Serban Ghenea (Taylor Swift, N.E.R.D., Bruce Hornsby), Chris Lord-Alge (The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen), and many more

Mike Senior is an audio engineer and works in the editorial department at Sound On Sound magazine. And in his goldmine of a book, Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio, he teaches the reader how to mix radio-ready songs with a small studio or home studio. He explains how to use the simplest of mixing techniques (like EQ and compression) but also more advanced methods (“fairy dust” effects), all in a super easy-to-understand way.

Along with the book, which includes assignments and simple chapter summaries, you’ll get a access to online resources. Basically, it’s an interactive book that helps you learn how to mix in a hands-on teaching style.

And it’s geared toward those with small studios, small budgets, but big dreams. So it’s perfect for every DIY musician.

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks


​Written by Oliver Sacks

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • The power of music to help those with amnesia, Tourette’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia
  • How music therapy is an under-appreciated yet powerful tool to help people heal
  • How music affects our emotions (Important for anyone making music to know)

This is more of a book that could spark your creativity rather than a book about audio engineering, but it’s one I think every musician should read.

In Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks begins by telling the story of a man who realized he had a love for music after lightning struck him. I know, crazy.

He goes on to tell more crazy-but-true stories of his patients and people he knew who both thrived and suffered because of their experiences with music. And because Sacks was a British neurologist, physician, and music lover, he approaches all of the stories with a medical, philosophical, and musical point of view. So his observations are pretty interesting.

The overall theme of the book is that music is powerful. And as an audio engineer, it’s important to know how music can affect people so you can mix with that in mind.

The Complete Beatles Recording Session

Written by Mark Lewisohn

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • How one of the most successful bands recorded music
  • How The Beatles helped change the way musicians would record music in the future
  • Interesting stories that give you a look into The Beatles creative process

This amazing book by author and historian Mark Lewisohn will make you feel like a fly on the wall of Abbey Road. It takes you through every single Beatles recording session at the famous recording studio.

It covers how many takes they did for each song, who played what instrument on each song, interviews with people involved with the recordings, and so much more. Plus, it has over 350 photographs of the recording sessions, including some rare ones of Linda McCartney.

Even if you’re not a Beatles fan, you’ll learn how one of the most successful bands recorded some of the biggest songs in music history. You’ll get a look at their recording, creative, and mixing process -- so no matter what type of audio engineer you are, you can benefit from this book.

Zen and the Art of Mixing

ZEN And The Art of Mixing

Written by Mixerman (aka Eric Sarafin)

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • How to harness the zen of mixing so you can work without getting distracted
  • Mixerman’s approach to recording and mixing
  • A step-by-step guide on how you can mix songs

In Zen And The Art Of Mixing, Eric Sarafin (Barenaked Ladies, Ben Harper, Foreigner) focuses on mixing as an art rather than a robotic approach. He makes the point that technology is important and every engineer should understand it, but mixing is really an artistic endeavor.

"Even if you're not a professional mixer, even if you're a musician trying to mix your own work or a studio owner in a smaller market,” he says in the intro, “you have your own set of pressures to deal with while you're mixing. Regardless of what those pressures are, it's important to identify and recognize them, if for no other reason than so you can learn to completely ignore them."

Hence, finding the zen in mixing.

Also check out Zen and the Art of Recording too!

Mastering Audio by Bob Katz

Mastering Audio: The Art And The Science

Written by Bob Katz

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • Sequencing, leveling, and processing
  • Monitoring, mastering, and how to use dithering and decibels
  • How to mix in light of mastering

This book is not only about mastering audio as in the final step in the music creation process. It’s also about mastering audio in the sense of becoming an audio ninja.

In Mastering Audio, Katz covers the philosophy and art of working with audio as well as the practical steps to making your songs radio-ready. His focus is on mastering, so any tips on mixing and recording he gives are within that context.

Art of Mixing by David Gibson

The Art Of Mixing

Written by David Gibson

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • How your recording equipment works together
  • How to get certain effects when dealing with different genres
  • How to visual your mix

Composer and audio engineer David Gibson shares his special way of mixing in The Art Of Mixing. He uses a 3D visual of all the sounds in a mix to help show how an audio engineer can control the sound of a song.

Gibson goes through a bunch of different genres so you know how to handle a mix in any situation. We’re talking bluegrass and heavy metal, hip-hop and jazz, classical and rock.

Modern Recording Techniques book cover

Modern Recording Techniques

Written by David Miles Huber

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • How to improve your recording techniques
  • The theory and practice of recording audio
  • How to set up a studio and what gear you’ll need

Huber not only teaches the daily practices of a typical audio engineer, but he also teaches the specifics of treating a room and setting up a studio. He gets into the nitty-gritty of mic placements, gain settings, and how to run a recording session.

Modern Recording Techniques covers both the theory of recording and the business side of recording, all with eye-catching graphics. It seems to be a good option for the pro or beginner and is often used in classrooms as the guiding textbook.

Behind the Glass

Behind The Glass

Written by Howard Massey

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • The recording and production techniques and secrets of the biggest producers ever
  • How big-name bands like The Beatles and Pink Floyd recorded some of their best music
  • All about mics, mic placement, mic preamps, and how to capture the best sound possible

Behind The Glass is basically a collection of interviews with some of the best audio engineers ever. Massey collected creative and technical insight from 37 of the planet’s top producers who discuss their secrets of making some of the biggest records in history.

For example, George Martin talks about the ups and downs of working with The Beatles. Phil Ramone, who’s worked with Billy Joel, talks about how to treat studio walls. On top of these names, we hear from producers and musicians like Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin), Alan Parsons (Pink Floyd), and many more.

The Mixing Engineer's Handbook cover

​The Mixing Engineer's Handbook

Written by Bobby Owsinski

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • The six main elements of a mix
  • The general rules of arrangement
  • How to build a mix
  • The secrets of EQ and "magic frequencies”

Owsinski, like many other authors on this list, calls mixing an art. And in The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook, he teaches the reader how to approach this art, backed by his decades of audio engineering experience working with artists like  Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Weird Al Yankovic.

He breaks down each step in the mixing process, taking into account the different mixing styles. He also talks about adding things like EQ, reverb, knowing how to use delay time, and adding other effects.

Recording Engineer's Handbook

The Recording Engineer's Handbook

Written by Bobby Owsinski

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • How to track different instruments
  • Mic placement techniques
  • What EQ settings to use and when
  • How to capture the best audio possible

Before you pick up Owsinski’s mixing handbook, you’ll probably want to first check out his handbook for recording engineers.

In The Recording Engineer’s Handbook, he takes you through the steps of recording a song, from choosing the appropriate gear to understanding how to use it to how to process a signal. There are tons of options when choosing gear, setting up the gear, and different ways to use the gear. Owsinski helps the reader figure all that out.

Mixing with your Mind book cover

BONUS: Mixing With Your Mind

Written by Michael Paul Stavrou

Key ​Topics You’ll Learn:

  • How to properly set up your speakers
  • Miking techniques
  • The difference between digital and analog mixing
  • Caring for your ears and hearing

With a foreword by Sir George Martin (The Beatles), Stavrou’s Mixing With Your Mind shares his mixing secrets.

He gives tons of practical tips and doesn’t get very technical, which makes it a good read for both the beginner and expert mixer. The overall approach of the book is to have the right philosophy and artistic perspective when sitting down to mix. He even realizes that the technical and artistic sides of mixing are controlled by different parts of the brain.  


So there you have it. Ten (plus one) of the best books on audio engineering. For the books on this list that I haven’t read yet, they are now on my Goodreads To-Read list.

Are there any books you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments!


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