When I first got hooked on recording and mixing audio, my enthusiasm far outweighed my ability. I purchased a few books, and Roey Izhaki’s was the first I read cover-to-cover. In fact, I could not put the book down, and to this day, it is still a great source of reference.
Author : Roey Izhaki
Published : Focal Press ISBN: 978-0-2405-2068-1
Williams Sound Studio Rating: A worthy 8.9 out of 10
Is ‘Mixing Audio’ a good read and worth the $45 price tag? Whether you are new to mixing or a seasoned professional this book is something you need to have on your home studio bookshelf. At almost an inch thick with 556 pages of essential reading and reference material, this book is certainly worth the price tag. Highly recommended addition to your mixing arsenal.
Many new home studio owners struggle to get mixes to sound professional. Roey’s book contains all of the fundamental building blocks to lay the foundation for great sounding mixes and can definitely take you to the next level.
In Summary ‘Mixing Audio’ is a mammoth resource for mixing pros and wannabe Andy Wallace's. Roey’s coverage of the subjects is clear, concise, and most importantly, highly digestible. The various figures and illustrations help readers understand the concepts and technicalities in each chapter.
If you are hesitating to get a hold of a copy of this book for yourself, read on, and find out a bit more about the book and its contents.
The book itself is very well structured, which if you follow page-to-page front-to-back provides a logical roadmap to develop your mixing skills. The book is separated into three main parts and contains 31 Chapters and Appendices for ‘Notes to Frequency’ and Delay Times for varying time signatures. The book is rich in figures and illustrations, which immensely helps the learning process, especially when seeing or reading the concepts for the first time.
Accompanying the book is the website www.MixingAudio.com for continuing and assuring your quest for mix knowledge and excellence. The website contains over 2000 audio samples in WAV and MP3 format for download and several multitracks for personal mix practice.
Part 1 discusses and explores mixing concepts and practices. Chapter 1, for example, delves into the importance of attaching emotion to the mix from the onset. As an eager student, when I read the book for the first time, I was surprised not to find Pro-Tools or my favorite Waves plugin mentioned.
However, I soon realized that great music is not borne from how well we can technically manipulate the source recordings, but rather how well we can envisage the emotions we want to evoke in the listener. Of course, technical skills are necessary, but technical skills can be learned over time or when required. However, hold on - this book teaches that too!
In the book’s introduction, the author reiterates the concept that “Mixing is an art.” He follows on to discuss the gap between previously available material (the book was first published in 2008) and the need to first understand music as an art form, before twiddling with EQ knobs, panning, and fader rides.
As excitement and reactions are much more complicated issues to come to terms with and mix into music, this short review does not give the book its full recognition. To find out more about Part 1 you can read my detailed analysis of each chapter here.
Part 2 deals with studio tools such as monitors, desk (or DAW) functions like level, panning, and equalization. With the increase over the last decade of processing speed on home computers, the big name DAW companies like Avid and Cubase have developed their products way beyond what was possible in the early days with console desks.
Likewise, plugin manufactures like Waves, Softube, and Izotope create intelligent predecessors of old school modules for frequency manipulation (EQ), dynamic leveling (compressors), delays, and modulation effects. Don’t get me wrong, this explosion of technology and competitive pricing have allowed home studios, like mine and yours, to have tools in our bedroom or spare room previously only available to big studios. However, this upside has its own nemesis. We now have so many toys to play with we can easily get lost and lose focus on the art of the music.
The essential tools are discussed in detail in the book's middle chapters. Important concepts such as gain structure, phase, dynamic range processing, and automation are expertly covered. There is also a chapter on drum triggering, something particularly useful for those of us who rely on augmented drum room sounds to get past limitations in our drum recording space.
‘Mixing Audio’ takes you through the fundamental tools you need to get to a great sounding mix. Following this book will help you to stay focused on the core technology required to mix like a pro, and it will get you there in the shortest time.
Part 3 provides guides for five contrasting mix genres. In these five chapters, Roey masterfully details mixing drums, bass, guitar, vocals and adding effects like EQ and reverb. The one thing I like about Roey’s approach is that he encourages his readers to mix in context.
I have seen so many YouTube videos and professional mixers mixing ‘just the kick drum’, or ‘just the bass.’ But when I have tried that myself, the results have been less than pleasing. The limitation, for beginners at least, to the YouTubers approach is that we lack the experience to mix a kick drum out of context. It takes years of experience and a professional studio to get your results using that approach!
I have mixed a kick drum in solo to absolute perfection so many times after watching someone else do it. Only to find that when I listen to the whole mix, the kick has lost its punch, or lost its body. One of the book’s resounding commandments is Mix in Context – great advice from my own experience!
In each song, and for each instrument, the text details which plugin choices were made, their specific settings – for example, ‘compressed by DigiRack Dyn3. The threshold set at 12.6dB, ratio 5.3:1’. This detail is something much sought after by beginners and not discussed on mix forums in enough detail. Standard, unhelpful answers on many forums include the reply ‘just use your ears’ and ‘I sprinkled some of my own brand of fairy dust on it’. Grrrrrrrr!
Most frustrating when all you want is the name of the plugin, the exact value the threshold was set at or the precise ratio that was used.
Progress through the book can be made quickly, even for someone with little or no previous technical knowledge of the subject. Moreover, you will likely find yourself using your new found learning straight after reading Chapter 1 – I did! I would read a chapter and try out each new concept on my own mixes and exclaim (aloud!), ‘Ahhhh, that makes sense now!’. The book certainly helps the pennies to drop!
The subject matter of mixing is so broad that, in my opinion, one book cannot rule them all. Further discussion on ‘best books for learning to mix audio’ are below. However, I would say that Roey Izhaki’s book must be the first purchase you make if you are serious about getting good with your own mixing. Its also the type of text that you can, and will, read again and again. My testament to this is the rather dog eared copy I always have close to hand!
Not convinced about the value of this book? Check out Good Read’s 263 ratings giving it just under 4 and a half stars. Also, check out the positive reviews on Amazon. WSS give it a solid 8.9/10.
What are the best books for learning to mix audio? Without a doubt, the best books for beginners to learn mixing concepts and advanced techniques are ‘Mixing Audio’ by Roey Izhaki and ‘Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio’ by Mike Senior. ‘The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook’ by Bobby Owsinski is also a notable reference and handbook. For those interested in delving deeper into the science of audio should check out Bob Katz’s book ‘Mastering Audio the art and the science.’ The section on the K-system is a must read.
Is Mike Senior's ‘Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio’ worth reading? Mike Senior's book is definitely worth a read. If you are starting a small professional studio or home studio, the contents of ‘Mixing Secrets’ will save you a tremendous amount of time and money from the onset. Mike will teach you how to avoid basic rookie mistakes and how to utilize your equipment effectively. The book is jam-packed with tricks and tips from some of the biggest names in modern mixing.
How do I become a better mix engineer? To become a better mix engineer, you need to focus on a few things. First, you need to become well acquainted with your hardware, such as your room and home studio monitors. Second, you need to be sufficiently proficient using your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and software plugins. To mix well, you need to have a stable environment where you can reliably reproduce audio for the real world. Also, you must be able to mix quickly without having to worry about basic moves that are necessary to operate your DAW and plugins. Finally, you need to practice a lot and compare your work to commercially available productions.