A Complete Guide to Mixing and Mastering: Why Your Song Isn’t Ready

By Mitch Rice

Getting a song ready for release is a tedious yet rewarding process. When done correctly, mixing and mastering is a significant step that’ll make you sound like a true professional.

If you’re new to this or aren’t experienced in mixing or mastering, you probably have lots of questions about how the two processes and if they’re even required. It’s important that you understand the importance of each, how these steps in the music making process ensure a great production, and when it’s time to hire the pros.

Why is mixing and mastering important? Let’s find out.

What is Mixing?

Mixing is the stage after recording where you blend individual tracks together into one coherent song.

The mixing process focuses on editing tracks, processing them, and adding effects. Your recorded tracks are added together on your master bus and pile up. You then have to control each track’s frequency balance and dynamic range. If you fail to do this, they will overlap, and you won’t be able to hear the sounds individually.

This can normally take anywhere from a day to a week. It all depends on how the production sounds when it gets to the mixer engineer’s hands.

If you’re looking for someone certified to work on your song, you can easily find online mixing services for your projects.

If you’re working on mixing by yourself, some things you’ll need to focus on during this safe of the process include:

  • Adjust frequencies using EQ
  • Get rid of unwanted sounds, and extra parts
  • Add needed sounds and effects
  • Create a stereo image and place each sound somewhere on the soundstage
  • Create loudness balance

What is Mastering?

Mastering comes after you’ve done the mixing part. This is the stage where your finished mix gets its final version for release. This is also the part where any last-minute touches will be made.

Mastering engineers will work to make the recording perfectly fit and compatible with the contemporary music industry and streaming platforms. It improves the song, correcting any shortcomings and mixing mistakes, if possible.

For example, when mastering for iTunes, you should present a song that’s fit for the Apple Digital Masters badge, including ensuring you’ve met high-quality mastering requirements. Mastering takes less time than mixing. An album can be worked on in half a day.

You may consider skipping the mastering step, but there are many important things that happen at this stage, including:

  • Add the fade in’s and fade out’s
  • Makes the required adjustments to the format that make the audio playable on all media
  • Remove glitches or clicks that may have happened during the audio recording
  • Burns final master to send to the relevant client ready for mass production and distribution

Your Song Isn’t Ready Without These Steps

If you’re trying to become well-known or on any major music platforms, then yes, they are both necessary.

The perspective behind each is different. Mixing is necessary to provide the perfect balance of instruments and voices. Mastering makes it possible for a song or album to stream on platforms. Their goal is to provide a balanced and objective perspective, so they try not to get lost in the weeds. Although they tend to work quickly and subtly, they still manage to catch any/all errors.

Use This Knowledge for Your Next Project

Using these tools is unnecessary if you don’t plan on growing in the professional music industry. While some musicians take it upon themselves to master these elements, the best production will come from the experts. When you send your song to mixing and mastering engineers, you can ensure your song or album is truly ready for release.

Data and information are provided for informational purposes only, and are not intended for investment or other purposes.