Mixing a song takes a lot of dedication and hard work. If you’re a mix engineer, you consider this mix as your own masterpiece. Passing your creation to the mastering engineer will lead to some negative afterthoughts. You will then begin to think that mastering can screw up the song that you’ve put a lot of heart and soul into it.
Some people perceive that mixing is the optimal version of a song, and mastering is like a step backward to what was originally created. However, this common misconception turns out to be incorrect. To think of it, mastering is an essential step to improve a song. It’s like the cherry to the cake that will take the song to a whole new level to make it ready to be released for distribution.
With that being said, mixing is the intermediary step between recording and mastering. The job of the mixing engineer is to prepare a song that’s ready to be mixed. In this article, we’re going to share about four mixing tips with mastering in mind. Continue reading down below.
Learn How to Use a Mix Bus Limiter
- The first step to mix with mastering in mind is knowing how to perform dynamic range compression on your creation. Doing so will ensure that the amplitude of a signal is not too high or low. Limiters are usually used by mastering engineers but it’s still a nice idea to use one to monitor your mix. This enables you to hear how it would sound like after the song has been mastered. This will expose things that need to be altered to fix some mistakes.
- While mixing, use a mix bus limiter regularly and use it as a reference to your mix. Once it’s complete, let the master engineer take over from there.
Experiment Things with a Mix Bus EQ
- Spectral processing is often used by mastering engineers to fix errors on your mix and improve its overall sound. For you as a mixer, you should learn how to use a Mix Bus EQ to change the overall tone of your mix. Whether you like it to be dark, bright, or vice versa, the mix bus EQ got you covered. Most mastering engineers prefer the tone of the song to be already determined before it lands to his/her desk and using a spectral processor is just optional depending on your mix.
- With that being said, your job as a mixer is to lock your mix into place on a tone you want. This is why a mix bus EQ is essential. However, you must use it purposefully. Don’t overdo your mix that your master engineer will have a hard time to determine what kind of overall tone you want your mix to be.
Print at 32-bit Floating Point
- A mix is usually printed in a digital file before being sent to the mastering engineer. There are three types of saving options for this digital file. The fixed 16-bit depth, the 24-bit depth, and the 32-bit floating point. The higher the format, the better the numerical resolution or precision it is.
- Native-based Digital Audio Workstations process mix signals at 32-bit floating point. This is why both mixers and master engineers typically work with 32-bit signals. Printing your final mix at 16 or 24 bit will result to lower resolution outputs. What the master engineers do in this situation is they convert the signal to 32-bit. However, the conversion process can negatively impact the mix and some of the signal’s precision is lost. This kind of situation can be easily avoided when you print your final piece into 32-bit in the first place.
Bounce Stems and Alternative Mixes
- If you think that you’re done with mixing a song, there are still some several other files worth printing that’s part of the process. Stems are separate audio files that can be added to make the final mix later on. Master engineers will highly appreciate if you create stem files for different audio tracks. Vocals, drums, and other instruments are good candidates for stem files.
- While printing stems, it’s ideal to create alternative mixes first. For example, you can create a “TV mix”, where the lead vocals area removed with the Background music left intact. Another example is songs where the instruments and vocals are separated. It may be time-consuming, but it’s worth the time creating these files so you don’t have to worry about making changes and starting over again in the future.