How to mix and master a complete song?

How to mix and master a complete song?

Post-production is a critical component of any production process, whether audio or film. The procedure is responsible for the majority of the delicate aspects of the project’s eventual commercial release.

If post-production is not done properly, things will look out of place, and the entire movie will fail.

This is one of the factors why so much time is spent in post-production and modifications are made often.

This assists in shaping the product in such a way that it inspires people to fall in love with it.

Whether it’s music, film, or any other form of arts and media, the post-production process is meticulously supervised.

With the progress of technology, we can now modify and examine documents much more quickly than we could ten years ago.

These improvements have enabled us to create tunes that are better than ever before. Mastering and mixing are two critical parts of music production that contribute to the song’s improved and more intriguing sound.

Without mixing and mastering, the tracks will lack the loudness and dreaminess of the commercial release.

Mixing and mastering are processes that range from leveling to adding effects to make the song’s aspects sound more coherent. Mixing entails preparing the song for mastering. Mastering pushes songs to the limit of how loud they can be without degrading the song’s quality.

While understanding the importance of mixing and mastering is one thing, going through the process of learning how it is done will aid you in your mixing and mastering job.

I’ll walk you through several components of mixing and mastering, as well as how post-production is performed in music production, in this article. Let us begin, shall we?

What is post-production in music?

In music, post-production is synonymous with mixing and mastering. These two steps prepare the song or audio track for commercial release. Various effects and measures are applied during post-production to ensure that the song sounds agreeable to the listener’s ears.

Additionally, post-production is a place where errors are fixed. All of the effects heard in a song are often added during this stage of post-production.

Previously, the time required to record and process a song was prohibitively long. This was due to the absence of any digital platforms capable of recording or editing on the go. This has significantly improved during the previous 25 years.

The ability to create and record music has increased exponentially. Nowadays, if you are proficient, you can create and release a track in a matter of hours.

This was not previously the case. One of the reasons producers would take so long was because of the retakes. If someone makes a minor error in a recording, they must redo it to perfection.

This is not the case anymore; a song may receive three takes. Each take is stored in the project window and edited to create the final composition. These stages are often completed during the post-production stage of a music production process.

In the world of music production, post-production has come a long way. There were moments when post-production editing could only be done in a certain way.

Everything has been turned to digital now, due to advanced software technology, which makes a significant difference in altering minor songs to executing sophisticated functions that were before impossible.

When people were doing post-production, the only rule was that there should be no errors during the recording stage. This is no longer the case; you are capable of making numerous errors.

Today’s software production modules can assemble a proper take from a collection of four incorrect takes. In today’s world, this is the secret power of post-production.  You are not even required to have a professional recording.

There is always a concern regarding the erosion of the real manufacturing process’s quality. The one thing we have to be grateful for is music producers’ capacity to create something out of nothing.

Historically, if a record had to be recorded, all singers and musical performers had to be present in the same recording studio. This has shifted significantly over time. Although the singer may be located in a whole different area of the world, they can nonetheless work for you via a single project file.

Using online collaboration platforms such as amazon web services, audio workstations such as pro tools have enabled two persons from different regions of the world to work on the same project concurrently.

One of the most significant parts of post-production is the ability to essentially take a segment of audio from a song and entirely convert it into a new kind of music. This has resulted in sampling being far more prevalent in contemporary music production.

What is mixing?

Mixing is the process of ensuring that all of the components of the arrangement that were assembled during the earlier phases of production remain coherent. This is the most difficult step in a music production endeavor.

Anyone can develop ideas but putting them all together to create a song that sounds coherent and at its finest is not easy. Mixing is the act of tuning each component of the music to perfection in terms of pitch, rhythm, and how they sound together.

This phase typically takes longer throughout the duration of the project, depending on the number of elements and their quality.

The method of mixing was initially created using analog mixers, in which the various elements of a track are simultaneously recorded and blended. This has altered significantly since the introduction of digital mixers in audio production software.

Additionally, there is more control while mixing in audio production software. Mixing can dramatically transform the way all of the pieces sound when they are combined. The mixing process is what separates a chart-topping song from a bad song or audio recording.

If a piece of music is blended well, it is so pleasant to listen to without being irritated.

Mixing, in its simplest form, is the process of polishing the song’s parts and instruments to ensure they work together. The mixing procedure begins with leveling each component in the mix.

Some projects will contain 40 elements, while others will contain 80. They must be combined at the right volume levels in order to create the ultimate sounding track. This phase of going over each and every element in the song has a significant impact on how the song will reflect the listener.

Additionally, mixing ensures that the instruments complement the voice. At times, when listening to a song, the vocals deviate significantly from the music. These inaccuracies are readily corrected while mixing. This is another reason why the process of processing and working on a song takes so long.

The time required to mix a song varies according to the project’s complexity. It can be completed in an hour, although it may take some time to repair each element. When working with samples, the project takes longer because you may need to fix them in some locations to better communicate the details.

One of the reasons tracks can take a long time to mix is because they are not properly organized. If a song is not correctly organized, the mixing engineer must reorganize it so that he can get a good sense of all the aspects in the mix. It’s also one of the most vexing aspects as a mixing engineer. Without a general idea of the music or audio track, it’s more difficult to work on it.

What is mastering?

Following mixing, mastering is the next phase. Mastering is the final step in the process of equalizing and compressing the song and pushing it toward the volume ceiling to ensure that it presents appropriately in all speakers.

This is a critical technique in the making of music. There is a saying “finish strong.” This is especially true for music production. If you do not work on your mastering talents, your song’s chances of commercial success are quite slim.

Mastering is heavily weighted in music creation, as producers are continuously vying to see

whose song can be louder. To put it simply, mastering is the process of increasing the volume of a song.

As you push your music to its extremes, details begin to fade away. Producers strive to push their songs to their limits while maintaining a high level of intricacy. This concept of loud music originated in electronic dance music. Individuals began to reduce theirs to less than 8LUFS (loudness unit).

Nowadays, you may notice that songs become increasingly louder as they are played via a different pair of speakers. The effect employed to enhance the volume of the music is referred to as a limiter.

Limiting is the technical word for boosting the volume in an audio project. Additionally, the limiter has a plethora of other functions. You can utilize a limiter on every channel in a project, not just the master channel.

In some circumstances, you can also put a limiter on your bus channels to move the music around and generate noise.

These strategies will assist you in developing the song’s depth. Saturation is another step in mastering.

Saturation is nothing more than amplifying a song’s harmonies. When you apply the saturation effect to the master bus, it begins to affect all of the resonant frequencies, improving them to make the harmonies sound more vivid. If your songs seem dull, this is the sole adjustment necessary to bring them to life.

The other issue that is typically resolved during mastering is final compression. If your song sounds disjointed after all the mixing stages, here is when bus compression comes in handy to bring it all together. Compression on the bus ensures that all the sounds in the mix are blended together to create the illusion of a single track. Generally, songs with more harmonies and cohesion are compressed.

The other common mistake individuals make during this final stage of mastering is compressing their tracks slightly more than necessary.

This also occurs frequently. When you compress your recordings excessively, you lose the dynamics of the track’s elements; the music will sound flat. This is something you should attempt to avoid at all costs. Unless and until you specifically request this effect in your music, you should avoid it.

Steps followed in mixing

Leveling is the initial stage of mixing. This is the critical step that must be completed immediately following the arrangement procedure. If a song is not properly balanced, it can create a slew of complications when working with mastering effects.

When you begin mixing a song, check over all of the song’s elements and ensure that none of them peak in any of the busses. Following this stage, go through the tracks and modify the loudness to achieve the desired result in the final mix.

If you don’t want a certain element to be as prominent in the mix, you must first modify the total volume to find the optimal placement for it. If mixing could be summed up in a single line, it would consist of properly leveling a song’s audio.

The following step in mixing is equalizing each of the song’s parts. If there is a bass element, all frequencies over 15 kHz must be cut; if there is a lead element, the opposite must be true.

This is one of the processes where specific guidelines for how this step should be completed are unavailable. Equivalence is a broad term. Equalization of music is a process in which producers equalize music according to their tastes.

It takes time and practice to develop a decent palate for hearing how an audio track should sound after equalization.

Compression is the subsequent phase in mixing. Compression is a technique that involves squashing the pieces together to create the illusion that they were recorded in the same room.

Additionally, it ensures that they are cohesive musically in all other ways. Certain individuals regard it as a one-stop solution for all of their mix-related issues.

Compression must be applied to a song in order to meet the needs of the song’s elements. If a song requires more compression, it likely has an excessive amount of dynamics. Compression is required at this point. Additionally, the delay and reverb effects are added.

These are two critical influences that, in a variety of ways, can make or ruin a song. Without reverb and delay, a song would be monotonous. Reverb and delay are both effects that envelop the song in space.

These ingredients contribute to the song’s essence. Reverb is nothing more than the signal’s reflection in the environment in which the song was recorded. This is generated intentionally during a mixing project with effects.

Delay is another effect that, through space, it can generate between pieces in a mixing project, gives another dimension to them.

Steps followed in mastering

The first and most critical step in mastering is to ensure that the song was properly transmitted from the mixing producer. If the mixing engineer does not properly send the song, it will be returned.

A perfectly mixed song must have a master gain of less than -6db and no peaking over that level. Additionally, there should be no flaws in the rhythm or compatibility of the mix’s components.

They must combine to form the entirety of the mixture. If there is an issue with the mix’s compatibility, the music is simply returned for further arrangement and mixing.

The finishing touch of a song is mastering. This is not the section of a song where significant alterations are done.

Mastering is a technique that alters the track’s loudness and saturation. The first step in mastering a recording is to comprehend its dynamics and, depending on the genre, to determine which parts should take center stage in the mix.

Certain genres require the lead to stand out from the mix, while others require the opposite. Certain musical genres prefer that their vocals take center stage. Once the principal element that has to be diminished is identified, an equalizer is used to precisely locate and enhance the element’s principal frequency.

Then some bus compression is necessary. Bus compression is used to ensure that all instruments and vocals in the mix sound as if they were recorded in the same room musically.

This is a difficult process to accomplish since you will have no idea how much bus compression to apply the first time you do it. It takes a great deal of perseverance to master this technique without destroying the entire blend.

This is why, when you initially begin your career in music production, you should always focus on mixing and mastering first. Saturation is the next phase in mastering.

As mentioned previously, saturation is a technique used to increase the number of harmonies in a song. When saturation is added to a mix, the result is a brighter sound.

The issue with saturation is that it can become excessive, resulting in a harsh, synthetic sound. Limiting or clipping is the following step in mastering. Clipping is preferred by some, whereas limiting is preferred by others.

Throughout the profession, limiting is more preferred because it preserves the song’s details.

The limiter is a master bus effect that establishes a ceiling value of 0.0 dB and then pushes the volume of the track up against that ceiling value. Producers and mastering engineers strive to push songs to the limit just before the mix begins to lose detail.

This is a critical step in ensuring that the song sounds almost the same across all platforms. If this step is skipped, you will end up with a recording that sounds great on the surface but does not translate well across all speakers.

Is mixing or mastering more important?

When viewed through the lens of a music producer, both mixing and mastering are critical. While some may argue that after the arrangement is complete, simply master and distribute the song commercially, making the song sound amazing requires time to process each delicate detail contained within the music.

These elements are combined to form one another; this is one of the reasons you cannot disregard one or the other. Both of these processes must be emphasized in music.

What mastering software does a professional use?

Ableton, pro tools, and logic pro x are all examples of digital production software that is utilized for mastering in music production. This software is used for a variety of functions, including song arrangement and mixing.

The entire process of music production can be carried out with the assistance of digital production software. Additionally, there is separate software available for mastering. Companies such as isotope have their own stand-alone software tools for mastering songs.

Does mastering a song make it sound better?

Yes, in some circumstances, mastering a song improves its sound. When most people think of mastering, they envision it as a procedure that increases the volume of the song. In reality, this is a process that elevates everything that has been placed into a song from the beginning. Each minor detail added into the project throughout the sample collection phase can be mitigated during the mastering process.

What can master fix?

Mastering can resolve minor flaws and concerns about the pieces’ coherence. All substantial corrections are often made at the song’s mixing stage. Mastering the minute adjustments also entails increasing the song’s volume and adjusting the song’s overall equalization and compression.

If some sections of the music do not sound right together and need to be compressed or tucked away, these adjustments are made during the mastering step to improve the music’s sound.

What does mastering do?

Mastering is a four- to five-step process that transforms the song and prepares it for commercial release. The procedure begins with gentle compression to bind all of the song’s parts together.

The second stage is typically equalization, which ensures that all elements are level. At the conclusion, limiting is used to raise the song’s threshold and make it sound louder.


As I previously stated, mixing and mastering are not skills that can be acquired in a single day; they require time to process and perfect.

Each song requires a unique set of skills for mixing and mastering, and each song requires a unique set of skills to perform. The approach you use for one song will not be the same for another.

Mastering and mixing are two aspects of music production that you must approach with extreme seriousness from the start of your career. You must invest additional time and work into making the two processes seamless and simple for you to perform based on all relevant parameters.

Without devoting time to this, you will struggle to complete songs. This is a major issue for today’s music producers, as they are frequently dissatisfied with their work.

They go over it a million times and squander their time when they could have made a few additional tracks.

The most critical factor to consider is your time and how you use it. Always keep learning as your primary objective and never become complacent.

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