The Green Bible, the Gospel according to Bob.

  • Posted by Simon Byrne
  • On June 15, 2016


Bob McCarthy is unequivocally recognised as a world leading authority on Sound System Optimization.

His book, Sound Systems: Design and Optimization has universally been regarded as the definitive reference since its first release in 2006. Colloquially known as the “Green Bible”, (a reference to it’s green cover), the 500+ page tome is packed with information which simply does not exist elsewhere. I have prized my copy since purchasing the 1st edition in 2007.

The third edition has just been published. Often reference books in their 3rd releases are guilty of only including minor updates which hardly justify their new publishing. Almost a marketing exercise designed to encourage readers to part with their cash with minimum effort on the author and publisher’s part.

However, the 3rd Edition of Sound Systems: Design
and Optimization is definitely a complete rework which reflects the advances in live sound technologies has made since the first edition. Indeed, Bob McCarthy deleted complete chapters to make way for new content and as a result, it is an up to date and comprehensive reference for the modern audio professional.

The laws of physics have not changed. However, with new technology, better manufacturing and better education, our ability to control the aspects of physics which contribute to good sound has dramatically improved in recent times. The 3rd edition of the book fully incorporates recent technological advances.

The content contained within this book is breathtaking. It starts with the fundamentals and takes the reader through every conceivable topic related to delivering amplified sound. The explanations are accurate and are backed up with 100’s of clear and concise diagrams.

The focus of the book is system design and optimization and it achieves that goal admirably. As well as a huge amount of information dedicated to the subject, in this new edition is a chapter with 17 practical venue examples which take the reader through the journey of real world design.


My “well used” first edition which I’ve owned since 2007

The upside to this book is that you will be armed with the information you need to make informed choices which will improve your work. There is however a downside. You will also be in a state of constant frustration as no longer will you be satisfied. That chosen speaker location, you’ll want to change that. You’ll want to measure everything and play a lot of pink noise and drive your colleagues nuts.

Owners of previous editions would be wise to consider buying the 3rd edition for the updated information (I did). Quite simply, if live sound is your vocation, you need the Green Bible, Sound Systems: Design and Optimization. 3rd Edition

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