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What is Mixing and Mastering


Many new producers are wondering what do audio mixing and mastering is. It’s not completely understood which stage of making tracks has the most impact, or how it affects your work in progress.

For the best results, you should know the main differences between both of these processes.

So, in order…


What mixing means?

It’s about looking for the balance of instruments. The mix should be balanced in the following parameters:

  • Volume level;
  • Frequency;
  • Dynamics;
  • Dimensional placing.

To tune the balance of tracks, the engineer needs to use special tools to separate the tracks from each other and eliminate their conflicts with himself. To do this, he uses equalizer, reverb, compression, pan, and volume level.


What is mastering?

This process can only start after the mixing work is completed.

There are three goals that should be achieved:

  • The track should sound louder;
  • The track should sound better;
  • Make sound versatile for any type of speaker.

A mastering engineer performs additional processing using different tools so that in the future there will be no problems with sound on different types of speakers.


What do mixing and mastering have in common?

You may have noticed that both of these processes consist of similar tools. When mixing, we process each track separately, building it in the context of the whole mix. As for mastering – this is the processing of the entire project.


What is the difference between these stages?

In outline generally, let’s dive deeper into what separates these two processings.

The following are reasons why these processes could be treated as completely distinct:


Stereo mix development

While mixing, you can work with each track individually: you can change its position, move it panning, etc. During mastering, work is performed on the entire project, without interfering with each separate track.


Mastering – it’s about minor changes

Sometimes you need to take a little time for the high- and low-frequency instruments to work with. During mastering, we still use the same tools as with mixing, but we don’t need to make big changes to not spoil the sound. If you managed to do very little processing – “Congratulation! Good job”.


Special requirements for mastering

Special equipment takes up the majority of a studio’s budget. You need good room acoustics and an accurate monitors system. Equally important is the use of high-quality equipment and a studio to record instruments. Then you have to do less work when mixing.


Craftsmanship of mastering

It is important to achieve a level that makes the mix sound equally good on different audio systems. Listeners use different devices to listen to music: headphones, speakers in the car, phone speakers – everywhere the song should sound equally good. Achieving this goal requires experience and a trained ear.


Mastering provides special standards

Songs that are placed on streaming services have high technical requirements. Loudness and dynamic range are basic and important parameters that have standards. Engineers try to achieve such parameters in order to meet the requirements of streaming services.

To make it easier for mastering engineers to achieve the required standards, they use special virtual instruments to find the necessary balance between the basic parameters of the track.

It is sufficient to understand mixing or mastering professionally – it is as a separate profession and requires skills, experience, and, most often, expensive facilities. If you make tracks, it’s up to you – you will be mixing and mastering yourself. From another point of view, money can be paid for it and transferred to that specialist who will do it at the highest level.

The choice is yours.

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