Book Review – Production Sound Mixing by John J. Murphy

Production Sound Mixing by John J. Murphy is almost the only book I can think of that is dedicated wholly to the art of recording sound for screen productions. The only other I can think of is Location Audio Simplified by Dean Miles, which I have read in interactive eBook format.

In Production Sound Mixing, the author takes a conversational tone, using the Socratic method of using questions and answers. This makes for an easy to digest format that comes across like an experienced production sound professional and teacher sharing important aspects of the job, with relevant stories from their experience to back things up. According to the preface, the book “is intended for those in the very early stages of their career”, and as such the book is not overly technical, but covers key aspects that are relevant to the practicalities of production sound mixing.

I am always interested in checking out new books about sound, to investigate their approach and hopefully glean some new tips and insights, or perhaps material and exercises for use in my own teaching. The book covers all the key areas, from basic audio fundamentals and microphones, to more specialist equipment and scenarios. At one point there is even a scenario for making a battery out of limes on a deserted island after an emergency plane landing, as far out as that might seem!

Each chapter in the book includes an exercise that would be suitable for students or people getting into production sound to try out. A few of the exercises are very similar to some exercises I do with some of my classes.

Overall I think the book is a good resource for people interested in recording sound for screen productions. It covers the key aspects in an easy to digest manner, and is suitable as a text for classes.

Production Sound Mixing book


Production Sound Mixing: The Art and Craft of Sound Recording for the Moving Image

John J. Murphy

Bloomsbury Academic, New York, USA, 2016

ISBN Paperback: 9781501307089


P170 – “Currently the most popular is 29.976” – should be 23.976.

P171 – The author refers to 24FPS as “an artifact of the past” – this doesn’t match my own personal experience, with me having used 24FPS for more than one feature film shot on high resolution digital video. This could be just some differences in coming from a PAL vs an NTSC region though, but not sure.

P171 – “it actually runs 1:03:06” – should be 01:00:03:06.

P215 – “25 Hz to 20 Hz” – typo I believe. Should be 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

P215 – Blumlein spelt inconsistently. It should be “Blumlein” here and on preceding pages.

P217 – “IFB – Interruptible holdback” – typo – should be foldback.

P219 – VU Meter entry – I don’t agree with VU meters being considered “obsolete”. I love VU meters, and a Klanghelm VUMT plug-in is one of my most used plug-ins for post-production tasks in Pro Tools.

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