I'm interested in digging deep into the science of sound and I was wondering if there are any must-read resources that anyone could point me to. I understand that this is a broad topic, so I am prepared to read a lot. Thanks!

  • Try google! i didn't read a book but i read probably 400 science articles related to different sound concepts and also i studied oscilloscopes in reaktor3 and decomposed synthesizers for many hours. for synths, The "Synth Secrets" series from Sound-On-Sound describe drums (chaotic waves that form noise on a drumskin) gongs(a random distribution of perfect sine waves) strings(sawtooth waves) flutes, filters etc etc. Reaktor is a good learning environment because you can simply hook up classic components of sound generators like filters additions multplications and see and listen to what it does Jan 12, 2016 at 0:21

7 Answers 7


This is a very interesting read.



That should keep you busy for a short while.


Sound For Film and Television by Tomlinson Holman goes quite extensively into the physics, psychoacoustics and practical applications of sound as related to the production and post production film industry. It's a good textbook to read and have as a reference.

  • Im reading all the time as a reference, its a fantastic resource. Recommend! Aug 20, 2012 at 10:07

the 'science of sound' of sound is an incredible wide area. I'll recommend some books too, but first I think you need to clarify what you will do. If you start thinking about a career in the audio-business, I'd recommend to you to get an overview what you're interested in. Because you have posted here, you probably are interested in filmsound and also this field is a wide area by itself: -Location Sound -Post Production Sound -Sound Editing -Sound Design -Foley -ADR -Music Recording -Music Programming -Studio Desiging -Acoustic Engineer and so on.

I'd recommend to all folks who are interesting in this jobs to go out and have a look. Call the guys in your environment and ask them if you can work as a trainee for some days. I'd recommend to ask a location sound engineer, if you can come to the set. Everything you see in real, helps you can decide if you really want to do it for a longer time. Filmmaking as a sound editor is not always having fun in recording some fancy stuff, it also means to sit alone for weeks in front of a computer, chopping sounds. Find out, if you like/can do that or not.

For film sound I'd really recommend you this books: 'Audio in Media' by Stanley R. Alten: This is your book! it shows the principles of sound, like 'what is a sound', 'what is a sine', 'how does we hear', also it goes into music theory, acousitic, live sounds, orchestra sounds, film sounds, studio design, microphones, signal flow and a lot more.

'Sound on film' by Vincent Lobrutto: Great book with 25 interviews with creators of film sound like Walter Murch, Jim Webb, Frank Serafine, Gary Rydstorm and more Also check the other books from Lobrutto.

'Principles of Digital Audio' it's a hard peace! If you have understand it, you can give us some lesions in digital converting and how it works.

I hope this helps for the moment. One important thing is: LEARN TO LISTEN! If you're in business with sound, you need to have an exact imagination how something should sound. For example, a rock-drumset sounds different than other styles. This seems obvious, but if I ask you, what the difference is, would you know it? As a specialist for sounds, you're not listening music anymore, you're listening to a mix of single elements: bass drum, snare, hat, toms, percussions, guitar, bass guitar, effects, reverb and so on. Same for film: backgrounds, foregrounds, foleys, effects, voices, music, atmospheres.... an how it's prepares. It's difficult to explain in english, but I hope you know what I mean.




Look through Synth School's videos, there are some excellent explanations on how sound works.



Pure physics and mathematics textbooks/resources.

I find it very hard to approach the fundamental topic of "science of sound" from any other direction.


I find a good understanding of acoustic principles a vital aspect for sound design. I recommend Master Handbook of Acoustics to my students. Quit scientific, but gives some great descriptions of the principles.


If you are interested in more Synthesis techniques (which have quite a bit of physics and acoustic principles). There are a few "bibles":

The Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads


The CSound Book and by Richard Boulanger (focusing on using c-sound, but the fundamentals can be applied to any synthesis technique, I studied with Dr. B and this book is a collection of essays on different techniques of synthesis, DSP, etc from some of the pioneers of digital audio)

Then for Audio in general (especially digital):

Mastering Audio by Bob Katz is a must

Good Luck!!!

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