Mixing and mastering are two separate and distinct processes in music production. Here are the differences:
Mixing is the process of combining all the individual audio tracks of a recording to create a final stereo or surround sound mix. During the mixing process, the audio engineer balances the levels and panning of each track, applies equalization and compression, adds effects like reverb or delay, and adjusts the overall tonal balance of the mix. The goal of mixing is to create a cohesive, balanced, and sonically pleasing final mix that accurately represents the artist’s vision.
Mastering is the final step in music production before distribution. It involves preparing the final stereo mix for release on various formats such as vinyl, CD, streaming platforms, and radio. The mastering engineer will apply equalization, compression, stereo widening, and limiting to enhance the final mix’s overall sound and make it sound great on different playback systems. The goal of mastering is to create a polished, cohesive, and consistent final product that sounds great on any playback system.
In summary, mixing is the process of creating a balanced and polished mix of all the individual tracks, while mastering is the final process of preparing the mix for release and making it sound great on all playback systems. Both mixing and mastering are critical steps in the music production process, and they require experienced and trained professionals to achieve the best results.