When it comes to music production, mixing and mastering are some important steps that you can’t miss out on. There are many different elements to mixing and mastering a song. There is so much that you need to learn. However, is it hard to mix and master a song? Today, we will answer this question and help you get through the stages of mixing and mastering a song!
What is Mixing?
Before you decide to mix a song, you should know what mixing actually is. When you produce a song, you set the rhythm, you add music, and you sing some lyrics along with it. To make all of this come together, you need to work on an arrangement that makes it feel like a complete song.
To do so, songs are mixed together to make sure that the arrangement is well-produced. Mixing helps you balance the tracks and form them in a solid, cohesive manner. For the purpose of mixing, engineers make use of tools such as equalizers, compressors, panning, and so on. Using these tools, they make sure that all the instruments and songs are coming in together. While mixing, some people even add layers of music to get that extra depth.
Mixing can often get very technical as it requires the engineers to fit the track into the correct context while making sure that all necessary effects are being added. Some engineers even add transitions, delays, modulations, and so on.
What is Mastering?
Mastering is the last step in any music production. Before you release your song out in the world, it needs to be mastered.
While mixing involves the balancing of various songs at a time, mastering is usually done one song at a time. Mastering engineers mostly work with a single track at a time to help improve its listenability. Mastering is much more than mixing, as mastering engineers often work towards translational and relational goals. For every mastering engineer, the end goal is to make sure that all songs fit with each other.
By mastering the tracks, you ensure that all songs are consistent with each other and the entire concept of the project. Mastering ensures consistent results, which is why it is a vital last step during the production of any track or album. It helps you achieve high-quality results both in terms of sonics as well as file delivery.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Mixing and Mastering?
Learning how to mix and master depends on the level of expertise you require. You can learn mixing and mastering in a few days. However, to gain expertise, you would require more time than that. Most experts spend months and years dedicated to practicing the art of mixing and mastering. During this time, you get to learn many valuable skills while training your ears to react to different sound frequencies and see what’s working best for you.
It can approximately take up to 5 years for someone to become proficient in mixing and mastering. While basic skills can be learned in a few days, you can take up to 6 months to help produce demos that have been mixed and mastered. Here, it is important to note that not everyone might have the same learning skills. Some people might take a longer time, while some may be able to learn these valuable skills in no time.
Difficulties in Mixing and Mastering
The process of mixing and mastering is not straightforward, as there are many elements that you would need to learn before you gain expertise. Just like any other musical instrument, this skill also has a lot of elements that you can only perfect by constant practice.
Mixing can involve stages such as level balancing, EQ, compression, and so on. To work on your mixing skills, you would need to work on each and every element. Ideally, focus on one element at a time, and once you have mastered that, move on to the next one. For example, before EQ’ing your tracks, you need to learn how to balance them.
Similarly, when it comes to mastering, you would need to focus on each and every stage properly. Without mastering, you would be unable to release your music to the public. For mastering, you need to make sure that your tracks have the same volume or frequency. The song has to have the highest quality, which is achieved during this stage.
While mixing and mastering a song may seem hard, it is not a skill that can not be mastered. With consistent effort and practice, you can polish your skills and learn how to mix and master a song with ease.