Mixing & Mastering – What’s the Difference?

Recording beginners may be under the misconception that for a quality song, it is enough to record vocals and overdub onto a music track. As it turns out later, mixing and mastering services are necessary to obtain the desired result. So, below readers will find out the difference between these two options, and also understand the nuances of using special online services for music processing.

What Is Song Mixing

Mixing is the process of creating the final track from individual recorded ones, the next stage after the arrangement. It is not a purely technical process of combining various tracks into a single whole, it`s rather a creative activity affecting the quality of the final sound. Such material processing includes:

  • adjusting the track volume level;
  • panorama setting;
  • filling the track with harmony, effects, and the required volume;
  • elimination of frequency conflicts.

Some professionals use mute and solo playback of tracks, which greatly speeds up and simplifies the workflow. Generally, mixing is 80-85% of the total sound quality.

What Is Song Mastering

Music mastering is the final stage of technical fine-tuning. Professionals call this stage the sound adaptation to the generally accepted world standards that relate to a particular music style. For example, many labels don`t trust the mastering to their musicians, doing it themselves — so that all their tracks have the same sound character & style.

The second task of mastering is to ensure good sound on any speaker system, headphones, and even a radio receiver for different metric systems:

  • RMS;
  • LUFS;
  • True Peak and others.

Compliance with these standards is strictly imperative if a music track claims wide rotation. For example, all music that can be heard on TV or radio is limited to -23 LUFS or -1 True Peak. These values ​​were set to suppress the so-called “loudness war” which often leads to listeners` clipping and broadcast equipment high load on the radio stations and streaming services.

And finally, the third task of mastering is checking mono compatibility and working with the spectrum. Thus, it is necessary to know what is mixing and mastering to make the material appropriate for listening on any sound-reproducing equipment.

What’s the Difference Between Mixing & Mastering?

Describing the main difference between mixing and mastering, it is worth noting:

  • mastering is essentially the adaptation of several tracks to one sound — it is used to stylize an album, music collection, or a specific playlist, but not for one single track;
  • in turn, audio mixing is the process of combining multitrack recordings into a final mono, stereo, or surround sound product — it can be used for one single track.

To get the highest quality sound, it`s not enough to use one instrument — you will need both mastering and mixing.

Using Online Services for Mixing and Mastering./

Music mixing & mastering can be performed in the following programs:

  1. Audacity — a free audio editor that works with multiple files. It provides the ability to combine different tracks into one mix, as well as to remove noise, change the pitch and tempo.
  2. Sound Forge — a digital audio editor that lets you create and edit audio files quickly and with high fidelity. The program has many possibilities to turn raw and unprocessed sound into a master copy.
  3. Reaper — a paid program that works even on a weak laptop. It allows artists to get high-quality sound at the output. Reaper has a built-in converter as well as tools for syncing with other audio editors.
  4. Mixcraft — the program which contains a variety of virtual instruments, samples, and filters that make it possible to work with sound at a professional level. Moreover, all effects in this editor are of high quality.

One of the optimal services that combine both functions and offer human editing is Major Mixing. Thanks to this online mix and master platform, users can get professional help in creating high-quality sound without wasting their own time.

To summarize, mixing and mastering are not the same things, but two separate techniques for creating a great music product. If mastering is suitable for processing an album, collection, or playlist, then mixing is necessary for each separate track. However, the modern user has a lot of useful services for processing music at his disposal — just choose and create a hit!