Book Review: The Insider's Guide to Home Recording

With an authoritative title like The Insider's Guide to Home Recording: Record Music and Get Paid, an engineering book had better be able to walk the walk—and the latest tome by Emmy-winning recording engineer and author Brian Tarquin does just that, bringing the thoroughness of a textbook together with the casualness of a veteran engineer sharing his thoughts over a burger and fries.
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With an authoritative title like The Insider's Guide to Home Recording: Record Music and Get Paid (Allworth Press; $16.95), an engineering book had better be able to walk the walk—and the latest tome by Emmy-winning recording engineer and author Brian Tarquin does just that, bringing the thoroughness of a textbook together with the casualness of a veteran engineer sharing his thoughts over a burger and fries.

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Aiming the book for recordists of varying levels of proficiency, Tarquin leads you through the complete recording process, placing an emphasis on how to make the most of typical home and project studio equipment. Some of the topics covered include studio location, set up and alteration (complete with lots of photos to illustrate his points); equipment like microphones, plug-ins, amps and mixers; recording software; mixing techniques; defining the roles of artists, producers and engineers; getting the right performance from a hired musician; and more.

Throughout, Tarquin draws from many different areas of his own expertise, so while there’s discussion on, say, using an analog mixer versus mixing ITB, there’s also in-depth discussion of topics as varied as the importance of the Live Television Videotape Supplemental Markets Fund, drum miking tricks and the pros and cons of a ton of signal processing gear.

Bringing the voices of other experts into the mix, he also interviews numerous respected producers and engineers like Neil Dorfsman, Sylvia Massey, Larry Crane and Mark Linett about their approaches and processes. Musicians such as Eric Johnson, Steve Morse, Steve Vai, Billy Sheehan and others also weigh in at points, sharing their knowledge, and Matt Gallagher of our fellow NewBay Media magazine, Mix, turns up as well, providing the book’s Introduction.

One of the most notable things about The Insider's Guide to Home Recording is its readability—Tarquin does a nice job of making concepts and explanations understandable without oversimplifying or going overboard with jargon. In all, it’s a good addition to any home engineer’s bookshelf.