What is the difference between mixing and mastering?
Mixing is the process of taking multiple tracks (this can be audio and midi) and routing them to one or more destinations but ultimately that destination will end in one place. A stereo output.
Inside a DAW. The routing is simple. Each track is a waveform clip or a midi track. Those tracks are typically fed into an FX box where it is run through one or more plug ins. Then it is routed to an AUX track, an instrument bus or directly to your master bus.
In short, It is a combination of tracks being blended together to create (in most cases) a 2 track export (a stereo file).
Mastering is a more defined process in which you are basically polishing the top coat of pain. There are a few forms of mastering which I detailed in my last post:
- Mixing and mastering in the same project
If mixing is an artist painting a picture and adding colors, then Mastering is where another artist goes over it and checks for any defects, issues, and mistakes and corrects them. Mastering is not a creative process. Remember you are only there to make the product better. You are not there to inject your personal creativity. You don’t paint over the artists colors or change his vision. You only enhance it.
It is more of a quality control position and you are the last line of defense before the product goes out. This is why it is critical you have extensive background in mixing because at times, you are going to need to pin point issues and convey these issues back to the client.