Mixing is the process of balancing individual tracks to create an overall sound that sounds great in the studio.
Mastering is the final step in the post-production process, making your music ready for distribution.
This involves boosting your audio file up to commercial levels so it can compete with other top-chart songs on radio and digital streaming services.
When mixing and mastering, EQ is one of the most important tools you have. It can clean up mix elements, give pads air, add width to sounds & more.
It can also be used to sculpt and sound design your track. For example, if you have a Kick drum and Bass, EQing just the Kick to make it sound wider can make it sound brighter and more spacious.
Equalization can be a very powerful tool for mixing and mastering but you need to be careful when using it. It is best to keep changes to a minimum of 3dB and use linear phase.
Compression is a tool that can be used to enhance the sonic qualities of your track. It can help create a thicker groove on drums, tighten the bass, make vocals sound better or add punch and impact to your masters.
To get a feel for how compression works, it’s best to experiment with different settings and approaches until you find what sounds right. This will help you understand how the compressor works and how it can affect your mix.
The main parameters that you should keep in mind when using compression are threshold, ratio, attack and release. Once you understand these, you can start using compression in your mixes and masters more effectively.
Limiters are a very important part of the mixing and mastering process. Limiters increase the volume of a track and can also control transients.
When limiting, you’ll set a threshold and output ceiling. The threshold determines when the limiting starts, while the output ceiling sets how much gain reduction is applied.
Keep the output ceiling low when you’re mastering your mix, as this will help avoid sonic artifacts in your mastered sound. The output ceiling should be somewhere between -0.3 and -0.8 dB.
A low threshold will prevent peaks from triggering the limiting effect and won’t result in clipping. In addition, use dBTP or dB True Peak to measure your signal before you apply a limiter. This method will account for inter-sample peaking and aliasing, and ensure your mastered sound is loud enough without causing any audio clipping.
Reverb is a time-based effect that can add depth and polish to a mix. However, it can also muddy the sound if overused or poorly placed.
To avoid this, you need to know how to use reverb correctly. You’ll need to understand how to choose the right type of reverb, how to adjust its parameters, and more.
One of the most critical reverb parameters is the pre-delay, which controls how long it takes for the early reflections to trigger. Increasing the pre-delay prevents tracks from being washed out and helps listeners identify instruments.
Loudness is an important factor in mastering that often gets overlooked. It can impact the way your mix sounds, how it sounds to other people, and how it sounds on different platforms.
Loudness can also be used to convey emotion. Listeners will hear the difference between a loud verse and a quiet chorus, for instance.
During mastering, you can change the loudness intensity of your track to create a more dramatic sound. This can be a great way to make your tracks sound more dynamic or powerful without having to compress and limit them.
The loudness potential of a mix is determined by the medium it will be distributed on, the genre it’s mastered for, and the artist’s personal preference for loudness. However, the loudness potential doesn’t necessarily mean your mix will be mastered to that level.