Mixing vs Mastering: What’s the Real Difference?

Mixing vs Mastering: What’s the Real Difference?

In the world of amateur music production – people often interchange mixing and mastering, as if they are the same thing.

However, this could not be further from the truth. Albeit, they are both critically important and help balance out the process of the other.

In a few words, mixing – balances out individual sounds/instruments in unison. And mastering – makes a song or track fit in with the rest of the music on the market.

Keep reading to get a better sense of the differences between mixing vs mastering.

What Is Mixing?

As mentioned earlier, mixing helps take all of the instruments and tracks, combining them in a single working arrangement.

A mixing engineer will take the instruments and tracks, balancing out the spatial placement, dynamics, frequencies, and volume.

On paper, it sounds simple and it can be. Basically, you want to avoid overtly-loud and overtly-quiet instruments. They mustn’t overlap each other in the frequency spectrum while depleting the transients from peaking.

In general, mixing can be broken down into two steps:

  1. Balance
  2. Emotion

Balance is the process of creating a good mix. Presenting the song with its best features.

And emotion is the process of creating a great mix. One would use tools to make the song sound better than it would in a live arrangement, pulling on strings of emotion.

To make a song great, one must make thousands of minuscule adjustments. Using tools like automation, saturation, phasers, chorus, stereo wideners, and others.

The end result of a song comes from about 80% of the mixing process.

However, the final 20% to complete the song is as important, if not more important in the music production process. That’s where mastering comes in.

Mixing is the customization of the sound and is a way to make the song all your own.

What Is Mastering?

Mastering cannot begin until the mixing has been put to an end. Nonetheless, mixing can last forever, so it is important to determine when it is ideal, but not perfect.

The goals of a mastering engineer are to make the song louder, make the song sound better, and make the song work on all sorts of audio players (speakers, headphones, etc).

As mentioned earlier, mastering is the process of making a song sound like any other professional song on the current market. When you hear this song in a list with others, it should not sound out of place.

Exemplifying the same levels of volume, frequency tendency and capacity for being heard on all multi-media players/outputs.

A little more on the importance of mastering music on our blog.

What Is the Difference Between the Two?

To keep it simple, here’s a quick list of differences between mixing vs mastering.

Mixing works with all of the instruments/tracks while mastering works with a final single. Mixing is 80% of the song production process and mastering is the final 20% track.

Mixing balances all sounds together. Mastering balances out the entire song.

Mixing works to create balance and emotion. Mastering works to create a presentable song among others.

Mixing vs Mastering – Fight Of Equals

Considering the differences, mixing vs mastering are both equally important. One cannot exist without the other!

To make a truly memorable and presentable song, both are needed to finalize the production. After all, music is about the expression of people. Not just one single person.

In case you are looking for professional mastering services, get in touch and I’ll gladly help you out in making a truly beautiful song.