Many musicians have the most fun in this stage. Once you’ve written the song and recorded all of the parts, you can turn what you’ve produced so far into your musical masterpiece. It can take years to be adept at mixing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, however. In fact, you should get started as soon as you can to get a feel for the possibilities.
This is where you combine each of the instruments you’ve recorded into a stereo 2-track mix. If mixed well, you’ll be able to clearly hear the instruments in detail. You should also be able to hear emotion and depth. There are thousands of decisions that go into the mixing stage, with your final mix greatly influencing how listeners will interpret your song. Many people opt to focus on just this step of music making. It can be likened to being the conductor of an orchestra as you’re in a position to choose how everything will sound, the volume of instruments compared to others where they will lie on the stereo spectrum, and what effects to use and when.
While mastering has traditionally been regarded as its own stage in music production, many producers who sit at home making music in their bedroom integrate it into the mixing stage. So while you may wish to take on the role of bedroom producer, it’s useful to know how mastering works on its own. During the recording of an album, artists will sometimes perform from various studios and use different engineers and producers, depending on the song. What this means is that each song has its own distinct sound, sonically speaking. Mastering is the art of ensuring that each of these songs sound like they belong with the rest. An adept mastering engineer has exceptional equipment and ears and knows how to correct any minor issues that may have not been picked up by the mixing engineer. He’ll also raise the tracks’ level so that they’re loud and at the same volume. By using the same equipment with each song, and adjusting them all to the same level, it gives that uniform sound that you want on an album.
There are just two ways of improving when it comes to making music: learning and implementing. Whether learning mixing and production, or playing an instrument, there is an abundance of knowledge available in today’s Information Age and little excuse not to take advantage of it. But education isn’t everything. You’ve also got to put it into practice. Just start playing around, press record, and see what happens. Then try your best to make it sound as good as you can. By repeatedly going through these steps, you’ll improve your technique and be able to get your message across in your music. Music production comes down to the simple act of making music. The more comfortable you are with each of the six steps, the easier you’ll find making music, and making it sound good.