Review - The Producer's Manual, Paul White

The Producer's Manual is a definitive guide to recording and mixing in the project studio.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 14 Nov 2011
  • min read
The Producer's Manual is a definitive guide to recording and mixing in the project studio.

Sample Magic, who have published the book, is the world's leading provider of pro-audio loops and samples to music producers across a range of genres, from house and electro to disco, so they should know a thing or two about the best recording and mixing techniques in the studio. The book's author Paul White, editor of Sound on Sound magazine, certainly does.

Many music handbooks out there are published in black and white, containing reams and reams of text with the odd black and white diagram and picture of recording equipment if you're lucky.  The Producer's Manual uses full-colour images and diagrams brilliantly to illustrate a point and to bring ideas to life, which really helps engage the reader.

The book can be used as a reference tool whether you are an aspiring producer, somebody more seasoned or even a recording artist with their own basic home studio looking to understand more about the different recording techniques available.  It is refreshingly low on jargon, and where jargon is present it is clearly explained. In the age of DIY, this flexibility will set this book apart from others.

There are plenty of tips on classic recording techniques, getting the best from performers and how to master your own material when the budget doesn't stretch to professional mastering.

The book is logically set out, with separate chapters dedicated to all aspects of recording and production including acoustics, equipment, reverb techniques, and even 'pitch correction' - popularly known as 'Auto tune', the pros and cons of which are discussed.  Particularly interesting are the chapters that go into the preparation and recording techniques needed for vocals, bass and guitar, acoustic instruments, and drums.

The book was a pleasure to read mainly because the author's passion and enthusiasm for music shines through.

Here's a few of Paul's tips that we particularly liked:

  • Arrangement is key.  Not every part should play all the time.  Music comprises both notes and spaces.  If you lose all the spaces, you lose the music.

  • Stick a mic in front of a singer and what does it 'hear'? It hears the singer, of course, but it also hears reflections from the walls and other hard objects in the room, as well as unwanted sounds from outside - such as passing cars and next door's dog.  While the human hearing system is adept at ignoring unwanted sounds, a studio mic picks up everything. This means that to get a good vocal sound you need to stop as much unwanted noise as you can from reaching the mic's capsule.

  • If there's a single relationship in the mix that the engineer needs to get right, it is the one between the kick drum and the bass...get it right and the rest of the mixdown becomes a whole lot easier.

  • The interpersonal skills of a seasoned producer are as important as any other...Creative people under pressure can be volatile.

Read more great tips in the Producer's Manual, available from for £29.95.