Hello! I’m Alex Cote, a composer and sound designer now based in LA. I graduated from Berklee in 2014 as an EPD/Film Scoring dual major, and have been fortunate since to work with high profile composers such as Penka Kouneva and Freddy Sheinfeld, and several upcoming directors. If you’d like to hear some of my work, or read my other posts, please check out www.alexandre-cote.com. Hope you enjoy the article!
Mastering Vs. Mixing
by Alex Cote ’14
So what is mastering? Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe not! Mastering is the final step in the music production phase, and often confused with mixing. So how do they differ? Simply put, a mixing engineer works with over hundreds of tracks, while the mastering engineer works with just one. The mixer will balance all the elements from “lead vocals”, all the way to “cymbal swell 3” and blends them together to form a cohesive track. Once the mixing engineer is finished, he or she renders a stereo audio file of the entire track, and the job is finished.
The mastering engineer takes that single stereo audio file, and makes the final tweaks, adjusting the volume and frequency levels, and occasionally adding in reverb or slight distortion. However, since there is only one track, mastering engineers are unable to make tweaks to the cymbals without affecting the vocals and guitars as well. This makes mastering a game of compromises, where fixing one element sometimes damages another. As a result, the tweaks made are often very slight, and not noticeable on their own. With mastering, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Read the rest here…
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