Mixing & Mastering: What’s the Difference?
So, you’ve booked a recording session and keep hearing the terms “mixing” and “mastering, but what do they mean? And what’s the difference between the two?
The answer is way more simple than you would expect. Think of the recording process as similar to making a boxed cake. Recording the song is like putting all the ingredients into the bowl. Mixing is, well, mixing those ingredients together to make batter. Mastering is like putting the icing on the cake after it’s out of the oven.
Okay, now let’s get a little more technical. When you record a song, the engineer creates several different audio tracks for that one song. During the mixing process, those tracks are combined into one to create the song. The levels of vocals and instruments are also adjusted so one part won’t be drastically louder than the other.
Now that your song has been mixed, it’s time for mastering: the icing. Mastering is basically how the finished version of any song you listen to comes about. Things like overall volume, EQ, compression and stereo are all tweaked to give the music a more “complete” sound.
Overall, if you’re going to record some quality music, you need to have proper mixing of the “ingredients” and the icing on the cake at the end.