The Producer's Manual
Sound On Sound editor Paul White delivers the definitive guide to recording and mixing in the project studio.
N.B - this book is available as a PDF OR a paperback.
Featuring 350+ full-colour pages packed with pro techniques, practical photos, detailed illustrations and hands-on walkthroughs, The Producer’s Manual brings together everything you need to take a mix, from initial recording to final master, including:
- All you need to get great recordings.From vocals and drums to guitars, bands and acoustic instruments. Choose the right mic, review classic recording techniques, learn how to tame spill and get the most from performers.
- In-depth 101-style guides.From dynamics and compression, reverb, pitch correction, studio acoustics, monitoring and more.
- Taking your mix to the next level.Explore the techniques and the pitfalls.Essential jargon-free theory backed by practical insights on everything from EQ through mixdown approaches to classic hardware profiles.
- How to master your own material when the budget doesn’t stretch to professional mastering.The Producer’s Manual is supplemented by tricks and insights gleaned from over 20 years in the industry and interviews with some of the industry’s biggest producers, including Tony Visconti, Alan Parsons and many more.
Full breakdown of what's inside
- The History of Recording- 150 years of change / The genesis of tape Digital recording / Recording today / The mp3 / The benefit of digital / Analogue artefacts (Or does tape really sound better?) / Changing roles in the studio / Today's producer.
- Classic Kit- Evolution of a guitar sound / Classic mics / Classic compressors / Classic EQ / Classic reverb / Classic delay / Classic multi-fx and exciters / Future classics.
- The Studio and its Kit- The mixer / Inserts and aux buses / Levels and gain structure / EQ - types, uses, phase, where to cut and boost / Pre- and post-fade / Volume and panning / Software instruments / Fader and group buses / Resurgence of the mixing desk / Using hardware with software / Latency / Basic studio hardware - audio interface, DI boxes, speakers and headphones / Microphones / DAW and Monitor controllers / Pre-amps / Keyboards / Other hardware in the recording chain: EQ, compressors and beyond / Wiring / Ground loops (and how to avid them) / Patchbays / Graphical spread: The project studio - Basics and areas for investment.
- Walkthroughs: Using EQ to tame rogue frequencies / Direct monitoring with DAW reverb.
- The Microphone- Dynamic mics - how they work, pros and cons / Ribbon mics - how they work, pros and cons / Capacitor mics - how they work, pros and cons / Boundary mics - how they work, pros and cons / Phantom power / The capsule / Mic spec sheets - behind the jargon / Polar patterns / Omnidirectional mics / Figure-of-eight mics / Cardioid mics / Exploiting polar patterns / Proximity effect / Stereo mic'ing / Coincident (XY) pairs / MS pairs / Spaced mic techniques / The ORTF pair / Phase / The DI box / The 'five to one' rule / Graphical spread: Mic compared - an overview.
- Walkthroughs: Setting up an MS co-incident pair.
- Studio Acoustics- Why acoustics matter / What you hear in the studio / Sound waves: The physics / Diffusers / Absorbers / DIY projects / Bass traps / Flutter echoes and standing waves / Studio layout /Setting up speakers / Choosing the right monitors / Positioning the sub / The live room / Acoustic compensation / Soundproofing / Which mineral wool?
- Recording Vocals- Capturing the right signal / The recording chain / Choice of microphone / Ribbon mics for vocals / Shock mounts / Pop shields / Sibilance control / Signal level / Using an external pre-amp / Using headphones / Dynamic range / Setting up the monitor mix /The recording / Order of recording / Bigger backing vocals / Proximity effect / Getting the best from singers (and other performers).
- Walkthrough: Killing the acoustics, Setting up separate monitor mixes.
- Recording Electric Guitar and Bass- A million tones / Recording the DI way/ Modelling pre-amps / Traditional mic'ing techniques / Choice of mic / Mic position / Two-mic methods / Tuning /Room reflections and phase / Advanced mic'ing techniques / Low noise options: Power soaks, dummy loads and isolation cabinets / Controlling noise / Splitting signals / The big guitar sound / Recording electric bass.
- Walkthrough: Guitars using the DI method
- Recording Acoustic Instruments- Acoustic guitar - What the mic needs to hear / Recording using pickups / The importance of environment / Right mic for the job / Mic position / Stereo recordings / Rule-of-thumb mic placement technique / Grand piano - The right mic for the job, mic position, stereo spread /The upright piano / Strings - Right mic for the job, mic position /String sections and orchestras / Brass and wind instruments - The right mic for the job, mic position / Brass sections / Double bass / Moving targets / Percussion.
- Recording Drums- No typical drum kit / Prepping the kit / Tuning / Taming noise and rattle / Recording - the simple way / Recording - multi-mic options /Room acoustics / Mic'ing the kick and snare / Mic'ing the toms / Phase / Tricks of the pros.
- Recording Bands- The options - 'All-at-once' vs overdubs / Recording to a click / How many passes? / Who plays? / Bass / Drums / Electric guitars / The silent band / Case study: amp separation / Acoustic groups / Graphical spreads: typical setups.
- Compression & Dynamics 101- How does a compressor work? / Compression in the mix / Auto attack and release / The transient designer / Peak and RMS sensing / When two are better than one / Using (and abusing) the side-chain / Multi-band compression / Multi-band processing / Dynamic EQ / Parallel compression / Parallel distortion / DIY excitement.
- Walkthrough: When two are better than one / Parallel compression / Advanced parallel compression / DIY parallel distortion.
- Reverb & Ambience 101- What is reverb / Why we need reverb / Reverb in nature / Synthetic reverb / Pre-delay/ Tonality / Early reflections / Decay / Density and diffusion / Modulation / Convolution reverb / Convolution limitations / Stereo reverb / Reverb in the mix - on vocals, on drums, on guitars, on keyboards / Reverb effects - reverse and gated reverb / Reverb ducking / Reverb and perspective / Advanced reverb techniques.
- Walkthrough: Reverse reverb.
- Pitch Correction 101- A modern phenomenon / Auto-Tune / Melodyne / Which correction to use? / Limitations / The ethics of correction / Production tricks.
- Walkthrough: Using Auto-Tune on the lead vocal / Editing the lead vocal in Melodyne / Artificial harmonies in Melodyne / Pseudo double-tracking.
- Vocal Production- All about the performance / Preliminary edits / Dynamic processing - automation, compression and limiting / Parallel compression / Vocal rider plug-ins / De-essing / Vocal EQ - make way for the vocals / Reverb / Delay / Advanced processing / Doubling and layering / Ad-libs / Effects on vocals / Advanced vocal production techniques; / Stereo width: a warning / Auto-Tune abuse.
- Walkthrough: Hard-hitting vocals / Setting up a de-esser / Auto-Tuned vocal spins.
- Electric Guitar Production - Guitars in the mix / The way that you play it - Power chords, Two-pass takes, Open tuning, Drop tuning, Rhythm damping / Doubling / Guitar separation - organic methods / EQ / Phase to shape tone / Guitar ducking / Distortion and overdrive / Rock guitar / Guitar solos / Clean guitar / Different tones: the E-Bow and beyond.
- Walkthrough: Layered distorted rhythm with DI signal / Ducking using a gate / Chopped guitar.
- Drum Production- The sources of drums - recorded kits, samples, mix of the two / Drum replacement / Drum replacement using contact mics / Drum replacement using the recording of an acoustic kit / Timing / Phase / Mixing sampled kits / Mixing acoustic kits - close mics first vs overheads first / Drum fills / Panning / EQ / Compression / Gating / The kick drum / The snare drum / Toms / Mixing overheads / Room mics / The drum bus.
- Walkthrough: Drum replacement with a contact mic / Drum replacement with a mic'ed kit / Drum replacement on a stereo file.
- Pre-mix Housekeeping- Planning the mix / Track cleanup / Guitar noise / Drum spill / EQ cleanup / Visual cleanup / Headroom / Bus and fader grouping / Comping / Vocal fine-tuning / Backing vocal timing / Consolidating Midi instruments / Time and phase forensics.
- Walkthrough: The audio clean-up / Gate on the snare / Comping the lead vocal / 'Cut & move' backing vocals / Melodyne timing tweaks / Timing harmonies in Melodyne.
- Arrangement- Why arrangement is a production priority / Common mistakes and solutions / Groove / Humanising the groove / Shape of the track / Colour - maintaining listener interest / Terms of the trade / The power of four / The salvage operation.
- Walkthrough: Using custom groove templates / The dreaded salvage operation.
- The Mixdown- Before you start / Approaches to mixdown / Headroom / Monitoring 101 / A/B referencing / Mixing for club rigs / Early preparations / Less is more / Bass in the mix / Bass salvage and layering techniques / Kick and bass / Drums and bass: the radio perspective / Where bass is boss / Panning / Polishing the mix / The master bus / Compression in the mix - channel compression, bus compression, parallel compression / Vocals - intelligibility / Loudness / Modulated delay FX / Augmenting and polishing the mix / Overall tonality / Common mix problems - spill, room, brightness and beyond / Exporting the master.
- Walkthrough: Frequency-dependent bass ducking.
- Mastering- What is mastering? / The home master / Comparing the master / Cult of the mastering engineer / EQ / The stereo mix / Loudness / Compression / Limiting / Mono bass and M/S techniques / Technical chores / Mastering: the pro route.
- Walkthrough: First steps in the home master / Next steps in the home master / Exporting an mp3 master.