A large number of musicians in the modern era tend to make some common mistakes while mixing and mastering their recorded tracks. They must realise that the two mentioned procedures are extremely significant and hence not performing them properly would most surely affect your work and that too in the adverse ways.
If you desire your music album to please the listeners and do remarkable business in the commercial market, you need to choose an audio engineer carefully and avoid the slip-ups mentioned below in brief.
The Don’ts of Mixing and Mastering
- Hiring your friend for the process of online mixing and mastering is not at all a viable solution. If he does not have the proper experience and tools, he is most certainly going to destroy your records. It is significant to contact someone professional, who understands the necessary changes that are to be made so that the records sound great when launched in the market.
- If you think that you would be able to indulge in the process on your own, you are surely wrong. Just because you have recorded the songs and instruments properly does not mean that you would be able to mix and master it. There are many examples, where an artist has generated disastrous results while mixing and mastering a song on his own. A professional audio engineer is trained in the process. He has the necessary skills, gears, a proper studio to prepare the songs for the market.
- Choosing a random engineer would be a blunder. You should conduct a thorough research, in order to detect the capabilities of varied experts out there. An ideal engineer would have certain samples on their site so that you can form an opinion about their work. You could also visit the testimonial section to view the customer reviews. Taking help from a veteran musician is also a good idea. He would be able to offer some valuable advice on hiring a mixing and mastering professional.
- Hiring an audio engineer just because he is offering affordable mixing and mastering services would be unwise. Things that come with a low price tag catch our attention readily. However, before making the purchase, we ought to give a thought about the quality of the products. The same rule applies while you look for the services of an audio engineer. You wouldn’t want to comprise the standard of the tracks only to save some money, would you? That would be the perfect example of ‘penny wise, pound foolish.’
So, keep the aforementioned points in mind and try to avoid them while getting your songs mixed and mastered.
The sternest challenge for an independent artist arrives when their work has to compete with big-budget music albums of eminent performers. Although fabricating a track seem like a simple task, making the sound quality of that particular song as good and reliable as the other releases are not that easy. This difficult endeavour is successfully managed by competent sound engineers through certain exceptional techniques. In the following discussion, we would explore a few of those methods in details.
- Frequencies- A song is just not made of one component. Several elements work together to form a particular track. Thus, it could be said that each one of them is significant and you cannot offer undue prominence to any one. Competent audio engineers make use of professional mixing and mastering to offer all the tracks with unified frequencies. This means each component of the arrangement is given its suitable space. Make sure that there is no fight of frequencies for it can make the tracks messy. For example, your song comprises two major instruments- keyboards and guitars. If the guitars occupy much of the low-mids, then make sure to push the keyboards towards the higher notes. You must create a hierarchy and clearly state how much audible spectrum would be covered by each instrument.
- Balance- As a musician, you must have a clear understanding of the sound of all your tracks. You could sharpen your comprehension skills by listening to other songs of the same genre. Try to evaluate their balance: how loud are the guitars, drums and keyboards? Are they on the same level with the vocals? Once you have analysed a few of the reference materials, start assessing your own track: how much space does the sound of each instrument occupy? Are they overlapping one another? Are the vocals too quiet? Try to find answers to all these relevant questions and then arrive at a final decision. You need to arrange all the components in such a way that the music album acquires a definite balance. It is not necessary to adhere to the set rules but make sure to do things with acute precision, so that your album could create a buzz in the commercial market.
- Bottom End-The low or bottom end plays a significant part in most of the songs because it is where the entire credibility of a track lies. A song that sounds frail at the end would not be able to compete with the contemporary tracks that make use of online mixing and mastering services. Unless you are into experimental music, every normal song at the low end must have enough clarity so that the kick and bass could have a free movement but any other instrument should not meddle that range. Remove the frequencies of pads, guitars, percussions and any other element that was in the arrangement. Work on kick and bass by reinforcing them and adjusting the EQ.
- Sound Effects- Use the effects much wisely because an excess of it can destroy your entire track. Do not keep on adding reverbs wherever you can. Effects are used to make a stereo mix large. Equalise, filter, tweak and widen them so that they do not make your track sound cheap. At first, learn to control them and then use them in the track subtly.
The aforementioned techniques could make your songs sound professional and allow them to hit the music market with a bang. By following the above methods, your tracks would appeal listeners and sound exceptionally well through all devices starting from loudspeakers to earphones.
Mastering is apparently the optimum and ultimate step to improve mix; it has been rightly acclaimed as the final polish for a song to prepare it for mass consumption. Mixing and mastering both are the basic components of record producing. Mixing being the intermediate step between recording and mastering needs to be executed with utter proficiency. However, the difference between mixing and mastering often remains incomprehensible to the greenhorns.
A Brief Study on Mixing
Mixing denotes the very process where multiple layers of the recorded audio are put together to produce the final track, it also refers to the stage of modifying the existing track. It entails combining and adjusting the individual tracks and producing a stereo audio file. While mixing the recorded song, the mixing engineer tinkers with every component you have recorded like adjusting fader, EQ the tracks, put the drop in effects and so on. It’s all about putting together the recorded parts, ensuring everything is hanged together and putting some finishing touch to refine the songs. To ease the hassles of working with mixing and mastering engineers separately some of the best online mastering service offers both of these services.
It starts by labelling and sorting out the tracks into analogous groups. The song is then normalized to ensure all the tracks are at a similar volume, afterward, each of the songs will be equalized to bring out the finest tones and high and low pass filters will be used to remove any unwanted frequencies. The goal of equalizing is to introduce modifications that enable the tracks to inhabit in their particular frequency areas and make the song clear and each instrument is distinguishable. Moreover, manipulating the fades and effects all through the songs makes it possible to deal with the emotion sonically.
Let’s Have a Quick Glimpse on Mastering
On the other hand, mastering is all about optimizing the overall sound; the process involves optimizing each track of the album or individual track by compressing, making stereo enhancements, equalizing and adjusting the echo or reverberation effect. The primary goal of mastering is to impart a high fidelity, professional sound with high clarity that can be thoroughly enjoyed by the audiences on any source.
Although different programs are out there to make you learn the mastering process but paying for professional mastering service is certainly a good investment, indubitably conducive when you plan to release the recording. The emergence of online mixing and mastering services makes it possible to get the advantage of having professional service within means.
At Red Mastering Studio, we audio master a lot of hip hop music.
Please listen to all the samples below. enjoy!