Working with numerous stems, or tracks, while mixing enables you to create a balanced “mix” that fulfills the song’s objectives. Normally, this is carried out immediately after all instruments have been recorded. On the other side, mastering entails working with that finished mix and making any necessary final modifications. Additionally, they increase the mix’s volume to a manageable level and export the finished product in the right formats for distribution and release.
What is Mixing?
In order to get a sense of the song, what each instrument is doing, the dynamics, and where they might want to apply particular effects, the mix engineer will typically start by listening to the “dry” recorded tracks (meaning there are no effects applied to them such as reverb, eq, compression, etc.).
The majority of creative and useful processing would be done during the mixing phase, however the producer or studio engineer may have added some subtle effects during the recording process, such as compression or EQ.
Mix engineers must be supplied the individual tracks from the session in order for them to do their duties well (ie kick drum, snare, cymbals, bass, vocals etc.). This allows the mix engineer the ability to alter the vocals and instruments independently. From then, the mix engineer’s job is to find a way to balance out each instrument and find a way to give each part of the song more clarity and separation.
In general, this is accomplished by altering the volumes of each instrument, adding compression, and utilizing EQ to create space for each one. Making thoughtful and original judgments that support the song’s goal is another duty of the mix engineer.
For instance, should the drums be mixed like a death metal track if the song’s words and theme are light and delicate? Most of the time, probably not. It varies from song to song, and it is the mix engineer’s responsibility to serve the track as best as possible in order to realize the artist’s vision.
What is Mastering?
Headroom is crucial; mix engineers frequently aim for a level between -12 and -18 dB to allow the mastering engineer with ample room to work. This is because any plugins the mastering engineer employs have the ability to boost gain, which means that if there isn’t enough headroom, the track could clip.
The music is bounced down into a single, high quality.wav or.aiff file once the mix has been approved, whether by the customer or the mix engineer themself, and then given to the mastering engineer. The mixing engineer’s task is now thought to be over, barring any requests from the mastering engineer to review the mixdown.
The music will be delivered to a mastering engineer for the last stage of the process when it has been balanced, all artistic “ear candy” has been set down, and both the client and mix engineer are satisfied with the mixed product.
Imagine mastering as the remaining 10% that a track needs to reach commercial standards. That’s not to argue that a mastering engineer’s job is any less significant; just the contrary. A poor master can easily spoil a good mix, but a skilled master can truly bring out the best in a great mix. Getting a track loud enough to compete with other tracks in its genre can give it that extra 10% “oomph.” It’s also the last opportunity to fix any balance problems with the mixdown.
An engineer will work off the overall mixed track for mastering (as opposed to the mix engineer who works off the individual elements). Their goal is to make the track louder, punchier, and more musical overall while maintaining balance and high overall quality.
Difference Between Mixing & Mastering
Working with numerous stems, or tracks, while mixing enables you to create a balanced “mix” that fulfills the song’s objectives. Normally, this is carried out immediately after all instruments have been recorded.
On the other side, mastering entails working with that finished mix and making any necessary final modifications. Additionally, they increase the mix’s volume to a manageable level and export the finished product in the right formats for distribution and release.