Mixing and Mastering is a crucial stage of music production that brings a song to a release ready standard. Using effects such as EQ’s, Compressors and Limiters – Mix engineers will make a song sound polished and professional.
Mixing and Mastering is commonly the final stage in music creation after songwriting and music production. Once an artist is happy with their song, they will send off the stems to the mix engineer.
Upon receiving the files, the mix engineer will proceed to import them into their DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and quality check all the tracks to make sure they are the highest quality possible before proceeding. Once all the files have been quality checked and approved the ‘prep’ stage begins.
During the prep stage, the engineer will time align all track to make sure all the parts play back in perfect time with one another. They will also tune any vocals that need it and enhance existing sounds, such as drums, to make them pop through the mix and have more impact if they where recorded with bad equipment in less than ideal environments (see our guide on getting that secret sauce here!).
Then, using either analogue or digital processing effects (or a hybrid mixture of both!) will craft the sounds to work harmoniously with one another. Equalisers will be used to tame unwanted frequencies or enhance certain sounds that may lack top end or low end. Compressors bring dynamics under control and allow for a consistent level across the whole song.
Often considered a dark art in music production. Mastering is simply the final touch before a track is ready for release. Ever wondered why your song doesn’t have the same energy as your favourite artists? The mastering stage is often where the problem can be found.
Mastering engineers will use limiters to increase the loudness of a song until it reaches a point where it stand up to commercial tracks. Streaming services are currently causing a lot of conversation in the mastering world as there are new standards of loudness to adhere to and it is down to the mastering engineer to find the best solution that works across all platforms.