3rd Edition

Understanding and Crafting the Mix
The Art of Recording

ISBN 9780415842815
Published October 29, 2014 by Routledge
518 Pages

USD $52.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Understanding and Crafting the Mix, 3rd edition provides the framework to identify, evaluate, and shape your recordings with clear and systematic methods. Featuring numerous exercises, this third edition allows you to develop critical listening and analytical skills to gain greater control over the quality of your recordings. Sample production sequences and descriptions of the recording engineer’s role as composer, conductor, and performer provide you with a clear view of the entire recording process.

Dr. William Moylan takes an inside look into a range of iconic popular music, thus offering insights into making meaningful sound judgments during recording. His unique focus on the aesthetic of recording and mixing will allow you to immediately and artfully apply his expertise while at the mixing desk. A companion website features recorded tracks to use in exercises, reference materials, additional examples of mixes and sound qualities, and mixed tracks.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Exercises to Develop Listening, Evaluation and Production Skills

Foreword by Rupert Neve




Overview of Organization and Materials

Establishing an Accurate Playback of Recordings

Part One.

Defining the Art of Recording: The Sound Characteristics and the Aesthetic Qualities of Audio Recordings

Chapter 1. The Elements of Sound and Audio Recording

The States of Sound

Physical Dimensions of Sound

Perceived Parameters of Sound


Chapter 2. The Aesthetic and Artistic Elements of Sound in Audio Recordings

The States of Sound and the Aesthetic/Artistic Elements

Pitch Levels and Relationships

Dynamic Levels and Relationships

Rhythmic Patterns and Rates of Activities

Sound Sources and Sound Quality

Spatial Properties: Stereo and Surround


Chapter 3. The Musical Message and the Listener

The Musical Message

Musical Form and Structure

Musical Materials

The Relationships of Artistic Elements and Musical Materials

Equivalence and the Expression of Musical Ideas

Text as Song Lyrics

The Listener


Part Two.

Learning to Listen, Beginning to Hear: Acquiring Fundamental Listening Skills and Establishing an Effective Approach to Listening

Chapter 4. Listening and Evaluating Sound for the Aspiring Audio Professional

Why Audio Professionals Need to Evaluate Sound

Talking About Sound

The Listening Process

Personal Development for Listening and Sound Evaluation


Chapter 5. Fundamental Listening Skills


Background Knowledge and Preparation

Self Discovery and Realization: "What is Sound to You?"

Beginning to Hear the Relationships and Qualities of the Mix

Hearing Subtle Qualities



Chapter 6. A System for Evaluating Sound

System Overview

Sound Evaluation Sequence

Graphing the States and Activity of Sound Components

Plotting Sources Against a Time Line



Part Three.

Understanding the Mix: Developing Listening and Sound Evaluation Skills

Chapter 7. Evaluating Pitch in Audio and Music Recordings

Analytical Systems

Melodic Contour

Pitch Area and Frequency Band Recognition


Chapter 8. Evaluating Loudness in Audio and Music Recordings

Reference Levels and the Hierarchy of Dynamics

Program Dynamic Contour

Musical Balance

Performance Intensity versus Musical Balance


Chapter 9. Evaluating Sound Quality

Sound Quality in Critical Listening Contexts

Sound Quality in Analytical Listening Contexts

Sound Quality and Perspective

Evaluating the Characteristics of Sound Quality and Timbre



Chapter 10. Evaluating the Spatial Elements of Two Channel Sound

Understanding Space as an Artistic Element

Stereo Sound Location

Distance Localization

Environmental Characteristics

Space Within Space


Chapter 11. Evaluating the Spatial Elements of Surround Sound

Format Considerations

Surround’s Sound Stage and the Listener

Sound Location and Imaging

Evaluating Location in Surround Sound

Distance Localization

Sound Sources and their Environments


Chapter 12. Complete Evaluations and Understanding Observations

Pitch Density and Timbral Balance

The Overall Texture

Relationships of the Individual Sound Sources and the Overall Texture

The Complete Evaluation

Using Graphs for Making Evaluations in Production Work



Part Four.

Crafting the Mix: Shaping Music and Sound, and Controlling the Recording Process

Chapter 13. The Roles of the Recordist and the Aesthetics of Recording Production

The Functional Roles of the Recordist

The Artistic Roles of the Recordist

The Recording and Reality: Shaping the Recording Aesthetic

The Recording Aesthetic in Relation to the Performance Event

Altered Realities of Music Performance


Chapter 14. The Sounds of Recordings: Shaping Musical Ideas and Musical Expression

The Artistic Elements of Sound as Musical Materials

Sound Qualities

Timbral Balance and the Mix

Sound Stage


Noises, Distortions and Unwanted Sounds

Musical Balance

Chapter 15. Preproduction and Preliminary Stages: Embracing Reality and Defining the Materials of the Project

Sound Sources as Artistic Resources, and the Choice of Timbres

Microphones: The Aesthetic Decisions of Capturing Timbres

Equipment Selection: Application of Inherent Sound Quality

Monitoring: The Sound Quality of Playback



Chapter 16. Recording and Tracking: Capturing and Shaping the Performance

Approaching the Recording: Tracking and Recording Sessions

In Session: Shifting Focus and Perspective

An Overview of Two Production Sequences

Editing: Rearranging and Suspending Time

Signal Processing: Refining Sounds and Music

Preparing for the Mix


Chapter 17. Crafting the Mix, and Finalizing the Production

Mixing to Support the Music and the Text

The Mix: Composing and Performing the Recording

Mastering: The Final Artistic Decisions

The Listener’s Alterations to the Recording

Concluding Remarks






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Dr. William Moylan has worked with leading artists across the full spectrum of jazz, popular, and classical genres. His recordings have been released by major and independent record labels, resulting in wide recognition, including several GRAMMY award nominations. A leading educator and an active recording engineer and producer for over 30 years, he is a Professor and Coordinator of Sound Recording Technology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.