#1
I've seen a number of people on here get these two mixed up, and i think it would be better if we were all on the same page about these so that we can better help each other. I do not know if anyone else has written this out, but enough people are still unsure about it, so i think that warrants a refresher.

Mixing - Mixing is combining all your recorded tracks to one stereo track. it sounds easy, but there's a lot to it. in mixing, each recorded track has to be individually edited and processed to work well with all the other tracks and sound right to the mixing engineer's ears when they are all combined. this is where dynamic effects, time based effects, equalization, automation, sound replacing, and vocal tuning is added to the tracks. Tracks are often re-routed and grouped together to further process them to better achieve the desired goal. Placement in the stereo field (panning) also takes place at the mix stage, whether that be in a stereo mix or a surround mix.

Mastering -
Mastering is preparing the final mix for reproduction and distribution. Since it deals with the final mix, a mastering engineer only has a stereo track to work with. Mastering is not meant to change the mix, as the mixing engineer has finalized it, and the band and producer have approved it, but it is meant to take their final product and sonically improve on it so that it can stand up next to other mastered material being sold and broadcast. Mastering often adds various forms of equalization, and compression to make it translate over as many systems as possible. Compression can range anywhere from very light (2:1 or lower), to smooth out the track a little bit, to brick wall limiting (20:1 and up), to increase the tracks volume without reaching digital distortion. It is also a mastering engineers job to add ISRC codes, CD text, and all other information to be included along with the audio on a CD before it goes to duplication/replication.

I hope you enjoyed it.

i'll be happy to take any questions, comments, concerns, complaints, or hate mail on the subject.

If i missed anything, please let me know, but keep in mind that i'm just trying to define the words and not say anything about how they "should" be done. i can write my thoughts on either one of those if anyone is interested.

Happy recordings to all of you.
#4
Quote by sambot12
Nice thread! Yeah I've seen a lot of people getting those mixed up.



#6
Just a bit of a historical side-note....

Back in the "old days" (50's/60's), the mix would be done and sent off for mastering. What mastering was, in those days, was committing the final mix to a vinyl master that the other vinyl records could be cut from.

Now, raw mixes have WAY too much dynamic range for most of that earlier equipment (and so much dynamic range that, by today's standards, it makes them sound too "quiet"), so in addition to some final balancing EQ, they would also add some compression to limit the dynamic range so that the cutting needle wouldn't bounce all over the place while making the vinyl master. Hence the term, "mastering."

Now, once the '80's kicked in, and the commercialization of music really started to get nuts, people made the connection that, to the uneducated consumer, that louder=better. There are some reasons that provide some validity to that assessment, but that's another discussion.

So, to that end, record companies wanted to ensure that their artists' products were the loudest on the radio. Partly because the consumer believed them to sound better, and partly because a louder track is more likely to stand out and catch people's attention. The loudness war began. Everyone then started to try to make their masters louder than the next guy's.

Proof... put on something from the 60's, 70's or even early '80's, and then put on something from the 2000's.... The earlier music will show the meters bouncing up and down in time to the music - an indication of dynamic range. The newer music will have the meters just fluttering right at the top of the meters *just* below 0db. The newer one will also sound louder.

But try something... take that older track and turn it up so that it matches the perceived volume of the newer track. The older one will now be just as loud, but because of the more natural dynamic range, will also sound punchier, and in most cases... better.

Now here's something else interesting.... we go out and buy the biggest plasma HDTVs we can with Blue-Ray players and everything else. We want the *best* picture.

Musically, our CD's are still at a sample rate of 44.1khz and a bit rate of 16bits. DVD audio is 24 bit / 96Khz.... significantly more detailed. Sorta like HD audio... and yet.... for our music listening, we are more likely to downgrade from CD quality to our beloved mp3 standard of 128kb. We'll go for the compressed mp3 format and practically NO dynamic range for our audio, while for our video, we want just the opposite. Go figure...

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
^ agreed on the good post. i will go on record though that i like my bass end nice and tight and punchy and part of that comes from a good eq/compressor combo.
#10
great stuff! a+
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#11
Thanks!

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#12
Quote by axemanchris
Just a bit of a historical side-note....

Back in the "old days" (50's/60's), the mix would be done and sent off for mastering. What mastering was, in those days, was committing the final mix to a vinyl master that the other vinyl records could be cut from.

Now, raw mixes have WAY too much dynamic range for most of that earlier equipment (and so much dynamic range that, by today's standards, it makes them sound too "quiet"), so in addition to some final balancing EQ, they would also add some compression to limit the dynamic range so that the cutting needle wouldn't bounce all over the place while making the vinyl master. Hence the term, "mastering."

Now, once the '80's kicked in, and the commercialization of music really started to get nuts, people made the connection that, to the uneducated consumer, that louder=better. There are some reasons that provide some validity to that assessment, but that's another discussion.

So, to that end, record companies wanted to ensure that their artists' products were the loudest on the radio. Partly because the consumer believed them to sound better, and partly because a louder track is more likely to stand out and catch people's attention. The loudness war began. Everyone then started to try to make their masters louder than the next guy's.

Proof... put on something from the 60's, 70's or even early '80's, and then put on something from the 2000's.... The earlier music will show the meters bouncing up and down in time to the music - an indication of dynamic range. The newer music will have the meters just fluttering right at the top of the meters *just* below 0db. The newer one will also sound louder.

But try something... take that older track and turn it up so that it matches the perceived volume of the newer track. The older one will now be just as loud, but because of the more natural dynamic range, will also sound punchier, and in most cases... better.

Now here's something else interesting.... we go out and buy the biggest plasma HDTVs we can with Blue-Ray players and everything else. We want the *best* picture.

Musically, our CD's are still at a sample rate of 44.1khz and a bit rate of 16bits. DVD audio is 24 bit / 96Khz.... significantly more detailed. Sorta like HD audio... and yet.... for our music listening, we are more likely to downgrade from CD quality to our beloved mp3 standard of 128kb. We'll go for the compressed mp3 format and practically NO dynamic range for our audio, while for our video, we want just the opposite. Go figure...

CT



Which is really a shame because with the possibility of 24bit/96k digital files we can easily preserve so much dynamic range it's not funny.

Now we're used to a small lack of dynamic in popular music because of some compression during the cutting process, but if only we could get away from limiting the hell out of our tracks and really utilizing our 24bit technology.

Furthermore, I recently burned an mp3 cd because apparently WMP can't convert flac (FAIL), and it made my ears hurt.

I had to crank the treble all the way up and there was still a total lack of high end.

I hate to turn every thread that even MENTIONS mastering into a total rant about limiting/mp3s.

For those of you who say you can't tell the difference, check this out.
Perfect example of a 128 mp3, just in general a horrible sound, even with the high quality link.
Compare to the myspace version, and you can easily hear how the vocal sounds sooo much better, although I must say the vocal still sounds a bit overcompressed and it's annoying.
The drums also appear so much more powerful.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqYUns2YQik&fmt=18
http://www.myspace.com/rodneyatkins
#13
That's not a fair comparison, though. When you upload something to YouTube, it compresses it again to meet their streaming standards.

I'll venture to suggest that the average person really can't tell the difference between a 128kbs mp3 and a 16-bit wave file. I can't, and I consider my hearing to still be pretty decent, despite the fact that I'm 40. The other possibility is that most of my music listening is on equipment that probably can't reproduce the differences, like an iPod. I rarely just "listen" to music in my studio environment. However, the average listener probably doesn't have equipment that can reproduce the differences either, so.... whatever.

To have a fair test, you would have to compare the original wav and a first-generation mp3 with a listener (or group of listeners) who doesn't/don't know which is which, to see if they can identify which one is better, if they can even tell which one is even different.

It's kinda the same as the analog vs digital debate. "Ooooohhhh... analog just sounds SO much warmer!!" Well, if that's the case, why can't you reliably turn on the radio or a sampling of some CDs and tell which songs/albums were recorded to which medium? You can't. So... that sorta defeats the argument.


CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.