All this while I thought mixing and mastering were the same thing. The simplest way I can describe the difference: Mixing is the process of taking all the parts that were recorded for one song and making them sound good together. Mastering is the process of taking all the songs on an album and making them sound good together. They are different and you do need both According to Guy Gray (Guest Lecturer).
Guy put a recording which needed some mixing and it was a live track recording. The very thing he kept mentioning was, it is better to have a very good mix done so that when its taken in for mastering the job would be easy. The most fascinating aspect i got was that mixing in Pro tools and mixing on analog mixer are totally different and he pointed out that analog mix is better . The reason behind it is that when preamps have been heated up they produce a warm feel to the mix. I thought that was an interesting concept as I had not heard it. The mix was done in analog also using outboard gear such as reverb, delay and a limiter using the patchbay. Guy highlighted that it is of paramount importance to know the patchbay. Once I know how to work with the patchbay then it’s much easier to maneuver any mix and make the workflow pretty easy. I Tri one and two I do remember one of the lecturers emphasising the need to know the patchbay, and she said it’s not a day’s process to know it but continuous practise will build the confidence high.
On the mastering, Guy showed us the need to make sure the volume levels are consistent maintaining a peak level of -14db to avoid distortion and clipping from the tracks. An important point he mentioned was that anything higher than that peak will not be accepted by any mastering engineer, instead they will return the files to redo the mix. I believe there is a lot of work required from the recording itself having the right gain structure which then will make mixing very easy then making mastering pretty easy too.
Some of the things that I learnt were:
- Changing from stereo to mono for mixing
- Applying filters on all channels
- Adding tape inserts in console to add character on a track
- Removing 250 db to remove muddy on low frequencies
- Sweeping and unmasking the bass drum and accurate use of knob toe get clarity on kick drum
- 3D imaging of sound using aux with delay
- Adding an EQ and compression on a master.
- Compressor reduces the loud and limiter gets quiet things loud.
It would be great to be able to add these techniques in our group projects and even my personal projects.
Owsinski, B. (2008). The audio mastering handbook (2nd ed.). Boston, Mass.: Thomson Course Technology PTR.
Cousins, M., & Hepworth-Sawyer, R. (2013). Practical mastering. New York: Focal Press.
Owsinski, B. (2014). The mixing engineer’s handbook (Third ed.). Australia: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.