There are so many great books on sound design. I'm interested in hearing about a book that has been your faithful companion. You can pick one per discipline you're involved in.

My selection is:

Sound design for film: Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema by David Sonnenschein.

Yes, the one from the SSD competition. This was one of the first books on sound design I've ever read. It gave me a way of thinking about sound design for film, which still serves me to this day. Fantastic!

Sound Design for Film and Television by David Sonnenschein

Procedural audio: Designing Sound by Andy Farnell.

This book is amazing! If you're into synthesis, physics, procedural audio, or PD and Max/MSP type programming languages, I really recommend it! It is truly ground breaking. The way he uses physics to break down each sound makes for a really great read (gotta be into this kind of stuff though, as it can get pretty heavy).

Designing Sound by Andy Farnell

Theory of computer sound/music: The Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads.

This is a seriously fat book that covers everything you could dream of about "computer music" (and thus sound). Maybe you want to know the theory behind granular synthesis so you can build one, or you're just curious to know how a convolution reverb works, this book will give you all the theory and math you'd need. I only recently purchased this, and I'm super happy to have it in my library. It is quite an old book, but the theories still apply. It is so in depth that even if I studied it for the rest of my life, I'd probably only absorb %10 of it.

The Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads

Miguel from the great blog Designing Sound, put together a list of essential sound design books, in case you're interested in checking out more...

What have been your most influential sound design books?

13 Answers 13


My favorites:

Soundscape Edited by Larry Sider

Soundscape: The School of Sound Lectures, 1998–2001 http://www.wallflowerpress.co.uk/thumb.php?src=prod_images%2Fthumbs%2Fsoundscape.jpg&w=109&h=163

Sound-On-Film by Vincent LoBrutto

Sound on Film: interviews with Creators of Film Sound by Vincent LoBrutto http://www.praeger.com/_net.templates/showImage.aspx?imgName=9780275944438.jpg&s=135

Audio-Vision by Michel Chion, Claudia Gorbman and Walter Murch

Sound Design by David Sonnenschein

The Complete Guide to Game Audio by Aaron Marks

Also recomend:




Id does not look like anyone has mentioned the SFX Bible. This is highly recommended and covers the art of recording, processing and cataloging pro hollywood style SFX.


The Sound Effects Bible by Ric viers

  • 1
    I was debating whether to add it or not as I though I would be adding a bit too many. Glad you did, it's a really good book. Commented Mar 9, 2010 at 17:50
  • My pleasure, Ric taught me a lot and I recommend this book to aspiring sound designers all the time! Commented May 5, 2010 at 5:01

I've read a number of the books listed here already, so rather than repeat them, I'll just say +1 for all of them and then I'll add a few:

Although it's not a book about Sound Design, "The Writers Journey" by Christopher Vogler is an incredible book about character development and storytelling, which are, in my opinion, two very important aspects of Sound Design. The more you know about character development, the more you can help your audience get to know the characters through the sounds that they make.

Also, I'm a big fan of Walter Murch's "In The Blink of an Eye". Murch is one of the greatest film editors of all time, but he is also a great sound designer (who can forget the sound from THX1138!?). The two of them have a ton in common. Becoming familiar with the theory behind editing helped me develop my sound design skills a lot more.

And of course I have to throw in "The Microphone Book" by John Eargle. It covers, very extensively, microphone theory, microphone construction, and the physics behind how it all works. I bought this book when I wanted to know more than just "what does a hyper-cardioid sound like?" and dive into "why and how does it sound that way?" etc...

  • 2
    The Murch book is an unmitigated CLASSIC. Good addition, Colin. Commented Mar 10, 2010 at 15:57

The Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound by David Yewdall

  • 1
    Aw darn, you beat me to it Chuck! Great book, love the stories. Commented Mar 9, 2010 at 5:09
  • Definitely learned a lot from that one.
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 5:04

I second the Sound effects bible, the practical art of motion picture sound and raise a Dialogue editing for motion pictures by John Purcell


The Fat Man on Game Audio by George Sanger

This book is surreal and fantastic. Such worthwhile advice for musicians, engineers, and anyone wanting to work as a professional creator. Not to mention, it is wildly amusing.

Good luck finding a copy, though. I bought mine through an Amazon used vendor, and it arrived with a library barcode stuck on it! Oops.


I like The Foley Grail: The Art of Performing Sound for Film, Games, and Animation by Vanessa Theme Ament and Soundscape: School of Sound Lectures 1998-2001 books in addition to the other ones mentioned already!


For anyone who is a big library user, (like me) you might appreciate this website. It is an online database of libraries from around the world. It will tell you how far away are the nearest copies of any book.


It's especially useful if you live near colleges and universities where you can at the least go and peruse for a couple of hours.


Copied straight from the bibliography of my dissertation:

  • Altman, T., Sound Theory, Sound Practice (New York/London: Routledge, 1992)
    • Chion, M., Audio Vision (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994)
    • Freeman, D., Sider J. and Sider L. (ed.), Soundscape – The School of Sound Lectures (London: Wallflower Press, 2003)
    • Gibbs, T., The Fundamentals of Sonic Art & Sound Design (Lausanne: AVA Publishing SA, 2007)
    • Holman, T., Sound for Film and Television (Boston, Massachusetts: Focal Press, 2002)
    • LoBrutto, V., Sound on Film – Interviews with Creators of Film Sound (Westport CT: Praeger Publishers, 1994)
    • Schafer, R. M., The Soundscape: Our Environment and the Tuning of the World (Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, 1994)
    • Sonnenschein, D., Sound Design: The expressive Power of Music, Voice and Sound Effects in Cinema (Studio City, California: Michael Wiese Productions, 2001)
    • Yewdall, D., Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound (Boston, Massachusetts: Focal Press, 1999)

Soundscape - The School of Sound Lectures and Michel Chion's Audio Vision are particularly interesting!


Nerd alert! Olson's "Music, Physics, and Engineering" isn't a book I pull off the shelf often, but it runs down the basic physics of every orchestral instrument, lists a ton of keys, and explains a lot about sound and how instruments create it, providing a lot of transferrable knowledge. Almost charmingly out of date in its layout and language, the science ain't goin' outta style any time soon.

Music, Physics and Engineering by Harry F. Olson

  • Have you read Helmholtz's "On the Sensations of Tone"? I'd like to know how to prioritize it in my reading queue. Amazon Page: amazon.com/gp/product/0486607534
    – Mark C
    Commented Apr 20, 2010 at 16:07

Seconds on Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers, a fantastic resource for the budding and professional sound designer


There is a small book (in French) that is a continuous source of inspiration and it helps me to thinking about working with sound: "DE L'ÉCRITURE SONORE" of Daniel Deshays (Éditions entre/vues, Marseille, 1999)


This is a new sound design book which I recently came across: The Silent Sound Designer - Rediscovering Cinema Through Quietness. It was written by my teacher at film school and I would really recommend it: http://www.dannyhahn.com/books/

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