Hello there, ready to do some discussion? Joana want to invite you to talk about the importance and the difference between mixing and mastering. What it is? And how you should approach it. Mixing and mastering are two of the base components of any music production, so it’s important that you get it right. Since some while ago, Joana thinks that mixing is not really important because composing is everything, but now Joana realized that Joana is wrong. Let’s starting…

Mixing

Let’s start with mixing. Mixing is the process of every single element in your track to work well together as a whole. This process is always the same. It doesn’t matter what doe use. Let’s say you have made a track containing all the usual elements such as drums, bass, vocals, guitars and so on. The first thing any beginner will do is wonder why their track sounds so bad, it usually ends up sounding muddy and jumbled.

For example, listen to this unmixed music:

The composition itself may be good but it still sounds bad. This is almost always a result of bad mixing, that said it’s important to choose the right sounds to begin with. If you’ve composed something that just isn’t going to work, no amount of mixing or mastering can save you. In order to understand the mixing process, try to envision an orchestra on stage playing it symphony. You’ll notice that the placement of the individual player is not random. Please check at Figure 1.

Figure 1. The Actual Position of A Complete Orchestra

To achieve a good balance in terms of Valium, loud instruments like brass and percussion traditionally go in the back with the woodwinds and string in front of them. Also, to avoid clashing, section with similar ranges or timbers for position to opposite each other in the binaural field. For example, violins and horns on left, trumpets and cello on the right, and so on.

Main Fx and Additional Fx

This is important to keep in mind because when you mix your track, your goal is the same. You want every single element in your track to have its own place in the mix. In EDM, some awesome tools at disposal such as equalize (EQ), panning, stereo separation, reverb, compressors and many more. We will talk more about this later in another session. Mixing has two methods, there are main fx and additional fx.

Main Fx

Main fx is a major component in the mixing process taking place on every instrument used, like drums, bass, piano, vocals and many more. It iconsists of three components, namely equalizer (EQ), compressor and reverb, but reverb is a component that is used only if the instrument is needed, such as for example on bass and kick drum instruments, or sub bass on EDM. All of the sample or tools in this discussion will use Fruity Loops Studio 20 just as Joana uses for daily music production. Check at Figure 2a, 2b and 2c to know about the Main fx for mixing in Fruity Loops Studio 20.

Figure 2a. Main Fx: Equalizer

Figure 2b. Main Fx: Compressor

Figure 2c. Main Fx: Reverb

Additional Fx

Additional fx is a component that does not always have to be used in adding instrument effects. It is used only to strengthen or even change the character of an instrument. In FL Studio, examples of effects that are often used in this step are Fruity WaveShaper, phaser, flanger, pitcher, effector, vocodex, grossbeat and many more. Additional fx are needed to strengthen the character of the sound we will make. Check at Figure 3a, 3b, 3c and 3d are the Additional Fx tools that is presented in Fruity Loops Studio 20.

Figure 3a. Additional Fx: Wave Shaper

Figure 3b. Additional Fx: Phaser

Figure 3c. Additional Fx: Flanger

Figure 3d. Additional Fx: Pitcher

Importance of Mixing

The first problem in aspiring producer is likely to face, is the low end will tend to interfere and overpower everything else in the mix. The high and mid-range drown out and it all just becomes muddier as more elements are added (muddy means a lack of clarity and definition with poor separation between instruments). This something you have to deal with in the mix process, make sure that everything has its own place in the mix take extra care that your low end frequencies is sitting well in the mix.

Use an EQ to low cut everything that’s not a bass sound. So that the low end spectrum is reserved for the drums and the bass, even hi-hats tend to have some low rumble frequencies and we don’t want that. Now you have a basic understanding of what mixing is and why it is so important. See at Figure 4.

Figure 4. EQing sound to cut frequencies

After the mixing process, listen to the same music before:

Mastering

Let’s move on to the mastering. What is mastering? Let’s assume that you were done mixing, you should always aim to get your mix sounding as good as possible during the mixing stage. After that, the track is almost finished. Mastering is the process of doing that last fine-tuning. And polishing before the track is released. Typically a mastering engineer will do some very fine EQing to remove any problem frequencies and some light multi band compression to make it louder. It’s not the same process every time, it depends on the track itself. The process is different every time, just as people are different.

Limit The Frequency

Every producer has unique style that requires a unique form of mastering. The processes carried out during mastering are tone balancing, dynamic balancing, stereo widening and level maximizing. Tone balancing is a process carried out to balance the frequency of the song from low to high so that there is no frequency to dominate the track. In FL Studio, the effect that can be used for tone balancing in FL studio is Fruity Limiter. See at Figure 5.

Figure 5. limit the frequencies so it is not dominant

Dynamic Balancing

The next step is dynamic balancing. Dynamic balancing in practice functions to re-balance each instrument to sound more dynamic so that no sound seems to dominate the track. In this process what is usually done is to rearrange the volume of each instrument. Check at Figure 6 to see how the volume balancing is presented in FL Studio 20 mixer.

Figure 6. rebalance each instrument with volume control

Stereo Widening

What we need to do next is stereo widening, stereo widening is a process to add a lot more clarity and space to an element in your track. To maximize your stereo widening process, you can use third party plugin like Izotope Ozone 8 Imager in your Digital Audio Workstation.

Figure 7. Stereo Widening process with Izotope Ozone 8

For example, listen to this music that has through the process of mixing and mastering:

So, What’s More?

We almost finished our track, next step is level maximizing. Level maximizing is a process to make your track more better to hear. In this step, we can use stock plugin in FL Studio like Maximus, or third party plugin like Izotope Ozone 8 to make your track sounds better like you want, and then publish your track.

All right, that’s all for this time. Joana will do some more research before we start the further discussion about mixing and mastering. Beside this discussion, Joana also has several topics about game musics like Kind of Game Musics or Some Secrets to Compose A Loopable Musics. Check them out. Cheers.

Source of this discussion:

https://www.landr.com/what-is-mastering/

https://www.justmastering.com/article-song-mastering-process.php

https://www.sageaudio.com/blog/mastering/what-is-the-difference-between-mixing-and-mastering.php

https://fixyourmix.com/mixing-vs-mastering/

Thanks to Fransiscus Fajar Gedi Raya for your help to provide this discussion.

Categories: Study

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