An Essential Reading List for Classical Music Recording


Classical music recording is quite a niche area of the audio recording world that can take time and experience to build skills in. Fortunately, there are some excellent books out there by audio engineers who have been perfecting their craft for years, to aid and inspire us in our ongoing learning journeys and the quest for capturing compelling classical recordings. Several of these have become go-to references for many classical audio engineers.

Classical Recording in the Decca Tradition

By Caroline Haigh, John Dunkerley and Mark Rogers

Written by three highly experienced tonmeisters who have worked for Decca and Abbey Road Studios, this comprehensive guide offers detailed explanations of recording techniques (such as the Decca tree) and useful diagrams and photos. It covers all kinds of formats from solo instruments to large ensembles, orchestras and operas.

Recording Orchestra and Other Classical Music Ensembles

By Richard King

Another comprehensive exploration of recording techniques, written by a Grammy award-winning recording engineer and professor. It also has useful sections on the role of the producer, productions with video, and multi-channel recording as well as “Quick Start Guides” labeled by ensemble type.

New Stereo Soundbook

By Ron Streicher and F. Alton Everest

A guide that delves into stereo perception and recording, exploring what it is, how it works, and how to use microphones to achieve stereo effects – knowledge that is central to classical music recording. It includes a glossary of terms, basic principles of stereo microphone techniques, binaural techniques, multiple-mic recording, the early history of stereo techniques, and how to optimise listening environments.

Recording Music on Location: Capturing the Live Performance

By Bruce Bartlett and Jenny Bartlett

Classical recording more often than not involves recording on location in different venues, and this book provides lots of information on recording outside of the studio, including a section on classical music. Other useful chapters include gear and pre-production, and in-depth explanations of stereo and surround recording techniques.

Concert Halls and Opera Houses: Music, Acoustics, and Architecture

By Leo Beranek

Called the “definitive work on the architectural acoustic design of classical music spaces”, this book is an illustrated guide to 100 concert halls and opera houses throughout the world. It explores how architectural features affect acoustical aspects such as reverberation time and frequencies, and how this relates to classical music of different periods. It also features comments from conductors and musicians on how acoustics affect their performances.

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