Mixing is the process of placing each stem in order, at the right volume, at the right time.
Compared to Mastering, Mixing is about arranging the soundspace of a song,
whereas Mastering prepares that soundspace for any and all environments.
You could also describe this as orchestration, like when a composer assigns instruments to a score from a grand staff. The music is already composed, but needs to be put in differnt parts of sound space based on what each part is doing. Low bass frequencies have one role, as do parts in the low-mids and high-mids, contrasting still to the function of highs.
What goes into mixing?
When you send your track in for mixing the engineer takes a few steps for each part provided. First they sculpt an equalization graph to highlight the most important features of the part. Then the engineer makes any stereo field panning adjustments and volume automations. Finally, subtle enhancement effects (compression or ducking, tiny reverb or tiny distortion) may be used to give each part its sparkle and shine.
For example, a rock band (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) :
When you come in with all of the tracks already recorded for a 4 piece rock band we have to mix it into a song! Mixing helps make make the guitar sit above the bass and drums, and floats the vocals right on top of it all. We’ll want the snare and kick to punch through the kick most of the time, which requires dynamic compression. The bass line to be the foundation that holds everything together and needs to feel settled under the mix.
Another example for EDM tracks :
More emphasis goes on the kick drum and other percussive elements. The high hats need to be very bright, and the synths in this case ducked against rhythmic elements. The bass is important but not foundational like the kick drum, so we’ll pull it back to help the kick pop. Your lead synths and pads are also so important. For this style, the mid range is second to the lows and highs, so the lead and pad synths will be set accordingly.
What happens if you don’t mix a track?
The song will still sound, but not as good.
Some parts might be more muddy or “hidden” behind other parts. Mixing organizes the sound space such that each element is clearly pronounced and heard.
Can you mix with stems recorded at different times or places?
We sure can! We know recording and studio time can be tough. Whether your stems came from your Scarlett in your friend’s bedroom or that prime time location in Midtown Manhattan, we can glue them together like icing in a stack of cakes. Not all audio is created equally, but it can be served deliciously.
Ready to have your song mixed?
Book your time now for your song.
What about remixing, can you do that?
Yes! To clarify, let’s think of it as re-making. We create remixes from the original stems, so the work is production instead of “mixing” like the name would imply.