Per-vurt / Recording Studio / Mixng & Mastering
    Mixing Vs Mastering / a guide to undertanding the difference

    The 5 stages of Music Production are: Conceive Compose, Edit, Mix, and Master!

    Mixing and Mastering are two separate but equally important parts in the audio post production process that can often become blurred and hard to differentiate between, therefore we have created this page so that you can know the difference before you submit for a service.

    Mixing is the final step before Mastering, and this involves three major steps: Gain Structures, Panning, and EQ. Those 3 steps are essential to create a 3D sound spectrum in a phantom image. A Mixing Engineer is the one who is responsible for dealing with different layers in the track, including the recorded tracks, and having them mixed together to form a clean stereo mix, with unwanted frequencies being filtered out, and with volumes being structured, and sounds being panned to sit in their own place in the sonic field and become distinguishable. Compression, reverb, delay, and other processors can be added to each layer to get the desired tones for the instruments/channels as well. Manipulating fades and effects throughout the songs with automation can help the engineer control the emotion of the song sonically. After hours of tweaking knobs and faders, and the song sounds as best as it possibly can: It’s time for the mastering engineer to step in.

    Mixing requires a proper mixing environment; this includes professional flat monitors with an honest response, an acoustic field with no reverberation, interference, or flutter echo, professional dynamic processors, a high resolution audio card, mixing consoles, and so on… It is very important to understand that a good Mix is essential to a good Master. Without a good Mix, the Mastering Engineer wouldn’t be able to present a good Master. For that, a lot of times the final stage of your audio production might end at the Mixing Stage, especially when you are not producing an album, rather a single track or a digital EP. In our opinion, Mixing is more important than Mastering, when it comes to releasing singles digitally, in other word, mastering is not a substitute for a good mix.

    Mastering works on the final stereo mix, this means, the mastering engineer doesn’t work on the individual layers, he works on one wav file making slight adjustments primarily on the EQ, Compression, Limiting, and Stereo Enhancement. Usually, the mastering engineer asks for a -6db final mix with no compression nor any major dynamic processing on the master channel, this to ensure enough headroom to make the sound as adjusted as possible. The mastering engineer’s primary goal is to provide a high fidelity, high clarity, professional sound that can be enjoyed by listeners on any source. Usually the mastering process is needed when one is producing a full album and wants to make sure that all the tracks sound equally the same when it comes to volume, warmth, and The Mastering Engineer could be someone who has no clue about composing. He is an expert in Mastering, which is a domain by itself. His studio is way different than that of a producer. A Mastering engineer might not have any Synthesizer or Drum Machines in his studio, or even a console.

    It is very important to know that Mastering is not something anyone can do, and the worst thing one might try is to use Digital Mastering Plugins with some presets to make the sound “Louder”. Mastering is NOT about making the track loud and squashy. You could have a great mix without a great master, or vice versa, and still be unable to achieve a professional sound that can compete in today’s music world.

    The line between mixing and mastering should never be blurred. Attempting to combine these two steps into one will only hinder your music and prevent it from reaching its full potential. There is so much more to talk about Mastering, however we have chosen to summarize the difference between Mastering and Mixing so you can know which service to submit for.


       Check out the Mixing & Mastering course at Per-vurt Music Production School