What is the difference between mixing and mastering?

2020-09-16T08:20:33-05:00August 28th, 2019|Sound Best Practices|0 Comments

Mixing and mastering are often confused with one another. So what’s the difference? Today, we asked our owner and producer Joe Jacobs to share a little insight with us.

Say you’re baking a cake. You need the correct amount of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, baking soda, and other ingredients to get the best result in flavor and texture. If you add too much sugar, it’s going to be too sweet, and if you leave the cake in the oven for too long, it’s going to result in a dry consistency. So, overall, you need the best conditions (temperature) and the correct amount of each individual ingredient to produce a tasty, moist and delicious cake. The same is true with sound. If your vocals are outperforming the background music or if some instruments are louder or softer, and the conditions aren’t the best, you’re not going to have a great track to listen to.

This is where mixing comes in to play. A good mix can make or break a song. Once a band or artist is finished recording all of the different parts of a song, an engineer can mix it. Mixing means taking all of the individual parts, such as instruments, vocals, etc. and adjusting them up and down to find the perfect sound.

Mastering is the final stage of audio production, the final polish on the track — or the icing on the cake if you will. Only when your mix is 100% completed, you can begin the mastering process. In

Mastering audio will help your sound translate well among all platforms such as headphones, speakers, or your car sound system. Like in mixing, common processes applied in mastering are compression, EQ, limiting, stereo enhancement, creating balanced dynamics and transients, however these processes are not used as dramatically as they are in mixing. The processes are used much more moderately, mostly to “sweeten” the track up a little bit and make sure everything is well-balanced. In general, where mixing involves a single track, mastering involves fine tuning all of the songs so that they’re brought to similar levels so the album flows and is cohesive throughout.

Do you have any questions for our team? Email us or comment below. We’ll be happy to help!

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