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The Big Difference between Mixing & Mastering that you must know!



The stages of mixing and mastering music are two separate and equally important parts of the music production process. Although, many music producers in their early stages of learning often find it hard to differentiate between them since the methods are quite blurred.
In this blog, we will try to understand exactly what sound mixing and mastering is. In a larger scheme, the process of music production is broke into three parts:

- Recording
- Mixing
- Mastering

Recording in simple words can be called a process of capturing the sound in DAW. In simple words, recording the sound on an audio workstation. To understand mixing vs. mastering, we have covered the differences in detail.

1. Mixing



The art of sound mixing engineer kicks in after all the tracks are recorded successfully. Mixing is the process of adjusting & combining all the individual tracks into a stereo or multichannel format. Multichannel format refers to mix. Sound mixing can also be called as the act of balancing audio from individual tracks in a mix to make it sound good when played together.

Although the sound mixing process for every mix will be unique, it is better to start with organizing all the tracks and naming them systematically. EQ is applied to individual tracks to get the right tone followed by high pass & low pass filters to remove unwanted frequencies. It helps to make the base with a balanced mix.

Compression, delay, reverb, and other effects can be added to each track as per the need to get the desired tones for the instruments. Adding these effects is solely based upon the skills of the music producer as well as the need.

Each effect can be tweaked multiple times during the mixing process. It's very important to make your mix sound the same and impact the listener in the same way on a wide range of playback systems. You can check out how the mix sounds on various gadgets like headphones, speakers, earbuds, etc before finalizing the mix.

2. Mastering



Once the sound mixing process is completed, mastering is the final stage before it undergoes distribution. Mastering can be considered as the refining process of the final mix where it is made to sound best on various distribution channels.

The same tools are used by sound engineers to polish the mix, but here the difference is that they work on the overall mix and not individual tracks. The aim is to make the whole mix as a single piece must sound good. Minor adjustments are made primarily to the EQ, compression, limiting, and stereo enhancement according to the desired level.

Apart from working on improving the quality, sound engineers assemble the album by sequencing the order of songs. The track names are labeled and are encoded into ISRC. All these steps form a large part of mastering.


Conclusion

Understanding mixing and mastering can be complex since there is a lot to understand and improve overtime when it comes to creating a great mix. One must never combine sound mixing and mastering. Both of these stages are individually significant and require time and patience to reach the desired goal of creating music.