Mixing Vs. Mastering Music
The sole concern for many artists is to come up with killer lyrics and record a song. They then shoot a video and wait for the editing and release of their track. This is usually tasked to music producers and audio engineers to ensure quality music is released.
A beginner in the music industry might find it difficult to distinguish between mixing and mastering music as these are two seemingly similar but different processes. Before we can dig right into their differences, let’s first go through the ideal processes of making music.
Basic Process of Making Music
So how is music made? There are several steps involved when making music. Each stage has a team player, but collectively they come up with bangers. The process of coming up with a music project involves:
- The Basic Idea. Creating a basic music idea is the pioneer of an excellent project. The concept comes first before you step into a studio. An idea can come from an experience or thought, depending on where an artist finds inspiration. You have to store the idea in your head and transform it or give it life in the form of music.
- Noting The Idea. Noting down the idea is critical. This prevents you from losing track of the idea and gives you a reference point whenever you need to change anything. There are different ways of pinning your idea. You can either write it down on note sheets or jam them in your DAW. The latter is ideal for beginners as they can easily create a basic scheme of how the song should sound. Recording yourself on the phone while humming or singing the melody’s notes is also an alternative to noting the music idea.
- Recording & Tracking. After you have everything figured out, you can walk into the studio and record the vocals and instruments of the song. Recording and tracking music gives a raw version of music, and polishing is required. That’s where mixing and mastering come in.
- Mixing & Mastering. Mixing and mastering is the process of polishing recorded tracks within a song to sound great and be ready for release. They are key to music management.
Mixing vs. Mastering
Mixing and mastering are the final stages of music production. However, mixing comes before mastering, and that’s where one of the significant differences is. Mixing is the process of making tracks within a song sound excellent together. On the other hand, mastering is the process of making final tweaks to a mixed song before releasing it.
So how are these two processes carried out?
Mixing a song involves several practices, including balancing levels, compressing the dynamics, boosting or cutting good/bad frequencies, and audio panning the elements. Mixing also involves adding time-based effects such as reverb, chorus, and delay. There are basic steps to mixing a song, and they include;
- Confirmation of documents – After receiving a song from a client, the first step is to check if the documents are in the correct file format and saved with the proper names. This is crucial as you cannot proceed if the song is saved in an unedited file format.
- Balancing. Basic balancing of the track follows as this gains staging and sets the music project for further editing and processing.
- Trimming the frequencies. Once a song balances and sounds good without processing, trimming the frequencies of its elements in order follows. There are two approaches to this quest. You can opt to process an individual track fully and move on to the next one or EQ all tracks, compress them, and then add other effects after. It’s always a matter of preference, but we’ll refer to the first step for this post.
- Fixing Dynamic Inconsistencies. After you trim the bad frequencies, you’ll have to fix any dynamic inconsistencies. This step also involves boosting the good frequencies and completing the frequency balance of the song’s elements. It’s vital to finish the frequency image of a song with the context of its elements. Listeners focus on the broader picture, which is the entire song, rather than listening to the element individually.
- Including Effects. Once the technical parts of mixing a song are done, a music producer can now use effects to add space and more creative mixing. There are different techniques to this as well, and it depends on the skills of a producer. It would be best if you also tried out your mix on other devices and sound systems to get the different translations of the song.
Once you’ve got everything in check in mixing a song, you can now proceed to master the song to finish it and complete the client’s project. However, you could also call in the clients to listen to the mixed song and give you feedback before the final polishing.
So what’s mastering all about?
Mastering is the final stage in music production. Mastering involves working with a mixed track and polishing it before handing it back to the client for launching and releasing. The goals of the mastering process are to improve the track’s volume, make the song sound better, and ensure that the song sounds good in all sound systems.
Mastering also involves creating a balance. However, unlike mixing, mastering is balancing completely different songs rather than different single components of a track. For instance, in cases of an album, a mastering engineer will decide on the order of the tracks. This will be about how they sound most consistent and level them in order, making them identical. Mastering might also involve working with the gaps between tracks and volume crossfades.
Contrary to mixing, mastering a song enhances a track to create the best-balanced playback on different devices. Since music mastering is the final stage of making a professional track, it’s very technical. It’s critical to hire music engineering professionals such as GUIÓN PARTNERS for the best outcome of your song. While mastering platforms can offer excellent services, a human touch is necessary regardless of how good these platforms can be.
Mastering engineers will deeply perceive all the technical necessities for the ever-changing stereo file playback on multiple platforms. These experts, such as GUIÓN PARTNERS, work with extra-musical elements that permit them to make extra creative music choices.
Contact GUIÓN PARTNERS for all your music management needs.