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Thread: Book Recommendations for Audio Programming

  1. #1
    Senior Member houtson's Avatar
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    Aug 2015

    Book Recommendations for Audio Programming


    Any recommendations for an introductory book on audio programming?

    I've completed a few midi and Audio library projects with Teensy, created/modifed a few of my own library effects so have a reasonable understanding of the basics. I'm mainly interested in audio synthesis, effects and filters, getting a better understanding of audio signal processing techniques.

    I was looking at Audio Programming Book but since it's quite expensive I thought I'd ask for any recommendations.

    Grateful for any opinions or ideas, cheers Paul.

  2. #2
    Hey there!

    I have a few recommendations to offer, some are not books per se but they comprise a good introduction to the field:

    << Top 3 >>

    1) Perry Cook's Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications

    This is the audio DSP book I'd take to a desert island. Well-written and approachable, it includes a good dose of formal theory which overlaps with Julius Smith's work (see below) but in a more condensed form. The main focus of the book is on physical modeling synthesis, which is in my opinion one of the richest (and less explored) branches of synthesis. I have personally implemented his shaker model on the Arduino, and a whistle model which fits on the Teensy 3.2 (not well documented at the moment, but I'm eager to share with the PJRC community soon). Full disclosure, I've studied with Perry and he's an awesome mentor, but the influence of this book predates our acquaintance. Intertwined with this text is the Synthesis Toolkit (STK), a powerful C++ library for audio synthesis.

    2) Julius Smith's four books (MDFT, IDF, PASP, SASP): available online for free at, print copies available through the usual channels like Amazon

    Julius is one of the true gurus of audio-oriented DSP. In addition to these books, he is a prominent researcher and has published extensively in the literature of academic conferences such as NIME and DAFX (more on this later). I have print copies of the first two books, it's worth it to me simply because the included diagrams seem better integrated, and I'm a fan of old-school tangible media like print.

    The major caveat is that this is largely a mathematical treatment of the subject; there are code snippets (some C++, a lot of Matlab), but it should not be thought of as a recipe book for going straight to working code.

    3) Nigel Redmon's site: EarLevel Engineering

    This guy is awesome, and writes clearly. I have consulted his posts on filter design countless times when wrangling with C++ implementations of that kind, and his interactive JS apps for biquads and pole-zero placement are great for intuitively understanding the fundamentals of filters.

    << Notable Mentions >>


    A wonderful collection of algorithms for study, implementation, and inspiration. Since it's collected from all over the web there is very little quality control; there's not much *bad* code but some stuff that's showing its age (e.g. late-90s-style C++) and too coupled to a particular implementation to be a turn-key solution. Your mileage may vary.

    5) Audio EQ Cookbook

    This is a famous text file, fortunately now mirrored/translated in several places ('s copy used to go down sometimes and cause a lot of frustration for me and my classmates!). It's a key to understanding how filter coefficients are calculated.

    6) MicroModeler DSP

    This is an in-browser environment for filter design. Not audio-specific, and you have to pay to get advanced features, but it's a lot of fun to tinker with. Code generation is supported too!

    7) Academic Conferences

    The proceedings of these conferences are a great resources, often not at an introductory level but definitely worth perusing to get an idea of the state of the art.

    All for now, enjoy!

    - Andrew

  3. #3
    Senior Member houtson's Avatar
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    Aug 2015
    Thanks Andrew, I'll check those out

  4. #4

    You can't beat the price !! And the quality is there as well.

  5. #5
    Senior Member oddson's Avatar
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    Feb 2013
    Isle in the Salish Sea
    Ccrma/~jos is pretty clear and concise. But not too much hand holding.

    Know your analog theory too.

    Nice list Andrew, thanks for that.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ETMoody3's Avatar
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    Mar 2014
    New Ulm, Mn
    Julius Smith’s work is outstanding...

    The other suggestions here are going to keep me awake for a while.

  7. #7
    Senior Member houtson's Avatar
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    Aug 2015
    the JOS stuff looks great ( ~1GB of on-line publications, sound examples, and software ) - thanks for the pointers

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2012
    Boston, MA, USA
    Perry Cook's book is clear and good. I have it.

    The older edition came with a CD-ROM but secondhand copies may lack this. The newer edition puts this material online, but the printed URL for supporting materials is out of date. Go to: for sound samples for the code for errata for STK

    Also perhaps of interest, a free online course Physics-Based Sound Synthesis for Games and Interactive Systems

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