A Review by: Alphonso Soosay
Mixing and Mastering is the building block of the Audio Recording Process which can confuse many young people who are in the music industry. If you are recording an album and you are planning to produce a CD for the international music market, then a good final mixing and mastering job is extremely important. But if you are just recording a Demo for yourself then it’s not necessary to attempt with mastering. The two differences are:
1) Mixing – Audio Mixing is basically fiddling with every musical instruments and vocals tracks that has been recorded and polish off the songs by placing them in their perspective levels. A mix engineer will be doing significance things like inserting in effects to required tracks, adjusting fader to its level requirements, adding Equalisation to its tracks if required. Just imagine audio mixing as putting the puzzle together, it’s something like that, it’s quite challenging and it’s a very creative job as you will have to know what you are aiming for. Remember you are putting together the many ingredients of what you have just recorded, just like a master chef and making sure that everything links together as it should be, and putting some special effects touches on musical instruments that require it. Its only when you have completed mixing your songs, and you are satisfied with the way the song sounds and feel confident that you don’t need to insert anything musically to the final product, it’s only then it is called the Final Mix. The next stage is Mastering.
2) Mastering – Mastering is all about our music industry requirements, correcting reference levels and adding liveliness to its created music. When mastering any album, you are making sure that its song 1 volume is not louder than song 2 or which can be barely audible, in other words, make sure that the levels of all the songs on your CD has to be on the same reference 0dB level. Apart from correcting Equalisation and obvious differences in volume for each song, mastering is an incredibly subjective process. When it comes to mastering, you either have the Masters touch or you don’t. Although there are software programs that will help you master your recording yourself, I believe paying to have it done professionally is a better investment if you plan on releasing your recording internationally.
On the other hand, if you are planning on using your recording just for a demo, then mastering is not a complete requirement. Mixing, on the other hand, is something you should make an effort to get it done. You don’t have to have a professional mix for a Demo. Unlike mastering, you can do mixing at home, it requires practice and lots of time and understanding on how musical instruments should blend together, these days anyone can get a audio mixing job done that is if you have some passion for music.
Alphonso Soosay / Audio Recording Engineer / Musician