It is a bit tempting to think of mixing as the song’s highpoint, particularly if you’re the mix engineer. You might also consider the last mix as the project’s culmination. Passing a song off to mastering engineering could be an afterthought. You could even think of mastering as an evil that could screw up all your hard work.
Some think that mastering has a negative impact on the mix to prepare a song for consumption. It’s like some believe that mix is a song’s optimal version and mastering can make a song sub-optimal. However, in reality, this isn’t true. Once performed properly, mastering is an important step to enhance a mix. It’s the final polish for the song to take this to the next level as well as ready for distribution. Mastering may also take a good mix and make this exceptional. With that in mind, it could be productive to consider the big picture when mixing.
Basically, mixing is an intermediary step between mastering and recording. Thus, the role of mix engineer is to prepare recording for mastering. Below are the tips on how you can do mixing while keeping mastering in mind:
Know When You Should Use Mix Bus Limiter
One step in mastering is doing dynamic range compression on the mix. It ensures that the signal’s amplitude isn’t very high or very low. It is common for the mastering engineer to use limiter as part of the process. To avoid different limiting stages, it is a wise idea for a mix engineer to avoid bouncing signals that have been limited during mixing stage. In other terms, leave limiting to mastering engineer. With that said, it is a good idea to monitor mix through the limiter as part of the process of mixing. Listening to your mix via a limiter can provide you an idea about how it would sound after mastering. There are times that this could expose things that have to be changed in the mix.
Consider Experimenting with Mix Bus EQ
Typically, mastering engineers will use the spectral processing as part of mastering songs. This could be to repair a problem or to enhance overall sound. Mix bus EQ may change the song’s overall tone from bright to dark or vice versa. Majority of mastering engineers anticipate the song’s overall tone has been determined intentionally during the mixing and recording process. As a matter of fact, many mastering engineers would consider the song’s aesthetic before a mix comes across their desk. The best mastering engineer only utilizes a spectral process only when needed.
Bounce Alternative Mixes and Stems
Aside from printing the song’s standard full mix, there are some files worth printing as part of the procedure. More mastering engineers like the flexibility of stems. The best bet is communicating with what your mastering engineer likes. It is common to have some separate stems of music and vocals. Other mastering engineers want drums, vocals, and some instruments. You may separate the mix further, yet be careful not to force the mastering engineer to be a mixing engineer.