Focal Press Audio Production Tips by joe_04_04
Book Title: Audio Production Tips: Getting the Sound Right at the Source
Author: Peter Dowsett
Publisher: Focal Press
Price: $35 USD
The Scope: Author Peter Dowsett, a full-time audio engineer who has tracked world-famous artists, such as Snoop Dogg and the Black Eyed Peas, releases his first book tutorial on the early stages of preparing to track and actually tracking music in the modern studio.
Disclaimer: As a short disclaimer, I will inform you that this book has so much information packed into it, that there’s no possible way for me to list, or even try to sum up, all that it has to offer. My review just quickly touches on a few aspects of the book, mostly just sections that really stuck out to me, but there’s much more hidden in the pages.
Book Synopsis: Audio Production Tips: Getting the Sound Right at the Source is a totally self-contained audio production course. Not only is a guide on how to capture performances to the best of your ability, it comes with downloadable content, in the form of .wav files (or in the form of a Pro Tools session) that allow you to practice exactly what Peter is trying to teach, right alongside the lessons in the book.
Content 5/5: Audio Production Tips covers a vast array information about the earlier stages of the recording process, such as the importance of pre-production and gathering ideas before going to the studio, to more specific and in-depth topics, such as tuning drums/replacing drum heads and proper mic choice, and even covers philosophical ideas, such as obtaining the proper mindsets/mentality prior to beginning the arduous journey of tracking a band in your studio. Before getting the book and taking on the review, I wasn’t quite sure where the author was going to draw the line with the teachings and lessons, but I quickly found out that the book was packed with a wealth of knowledge. There amount of content in the book honestly surprised me, as it seems to cover everything I initially expected and much more beyond my expectations as well. For instance, one of my favorite aspects is that the book has two sections covering both basic, and advanced, topics in music theory. I was delighted to see this, as some production books don’t emphasize the importance of having even a little background knowledge on music theory. Including such foundational elements in a production book is entirely practical and justified, if I’m allowed to opine on the matter. While the book does touch base on actual mixing concepts and ideas, it mostly does what the title suggests, focuses on “pre-mixing” process, from planning/pre-production all the way to setting up audio levels and dialing in pre-amps, compressors, and equalizers during the tracking phase.
My short summary doesn’t quite present the mounds of information in the book, so I’ve chosen include a breakdown of the chapters of the book, just so you can get a better idea of what all it touches.
- Production Philosophies, Your Ears, and Critical Listening
- Project Management and Pre-Production
- Basic Music Theory
- Song Structure, Lyrics, and Melody
- Advanced Music Theory
- Arrangement and Orchestration
- Demystifying Recording Levels
- Microphone, Pre-Amp, and Live Room Choice
- The Critical Listening Environment
- Decision-Making and General Recording Techniques
- Tracking Drums
- Tracking Electric and Bass Guitar
- Tracking Other Instrumentation
- Tracking Vocals
Bang for Buck 5/5: At 35 dollars, this book is a great value. It’s quite literally impossible to talk about everything that this book covers, which makes it hard to convey just how valuable of a resource it is, but just by checking the chapter listings, you can get a good gist/overview of what you are getting (though each chapter has tons of subsections in each category). I honestly don’t think it’s totally possible for anyone to read this book in its entirety and remember every single subject it touches, which is why I constantly refer to it as a “reference.” Based on just the amount of content alone, I have to give it a 5/5.
Physical Quality 5/5: I wanted to spend a quick minute discussing the quality of the print, because I do take quality into consideration when purchasing any item, or assessing its Bang for Buck. Simply, the book is entirely professional. The book has weight to it and has an overall sturdy feeling to it, ensuring that it certainly isn’t a cheaply produced book. I would like to point out that included in the purchase, is a download to a digital copy of the book, if you are a person who does not like to handle books, or you just prefer to read via mobile device.
Verdict 5/5: My verdict is that Audio Production Tips is an extremely great reference for any person who is serious about learning the craft of tracking artists. It’s something to keep handy, close by the studio room, so you can reference it when you need to. There are tons of diagrams, depictions, and graphs included, so the book isn’t entirely text-based - deep planning went into the writing of this book, making it a totally coherent and logical read. As a last note, I’d like to say that this isn't really a book, it's an entire course/tutorial for training someone who’s eager to learn this art form, as in includes download links to a session (“Take Her Away,” by Luna Kiss) that allow you to practice the ideas you are reading about. Also, I believe that even seasoned professionals will be able to benefit from having this as a reference, as it sheds light on some fairly cryptic and not-frequently-discussed topics. Overall, I believe this book is a solid 5/5.