Why You Need Someone to Mix Your Music
You’ve written the perfect song and recorded each track perfectly. You play all the tracks together only to find that you have a perfectly jumbled mess. It sounds like the drummer, guitarist, keyboardist and vocalist all are in a messy battle royale. Your vocalist is losing the battle horribly. Other instruments are drowning out most of his words. Your perfectly written, perfectly recorded song is going downhill fast. You wonder why other great songs don’t sound this way as you listen to your jumbled, confused mess. The answer is audio mixing.
What is Audio Mixing?
Audio mixing (or Mixdown) is a process that follows recording and precedes the mastering stage. The purpose of audio mixing is to let the tracks comprising a song work together harmoniously so that every instrument can be heard individually. Audio mastering, on the other hand, allows different songs on an album to play well together with each other or with other commercial tracks.
Analog and Digital Audio Mixing
Mixing may be analog (e.g. mixer boards) or digital (e.g. computer digital audio workstations such as Pro Tools or Presonus Studio One). Both options use similar tools and a similar process, for the most part, to arrive at the final result.
A Piece of Cake: The Baking Analogy
Baking a cake is a great analogy for audio mixing.
icon-check-square-o Of course choosing the right ingredients (e.g. flour, butter, eggs) is the first step. In the same way, some ingredients in the pantry won’t be used in the cake, some recorded tracks will be left out of the final song.
icon-check-square-o The right proportions of ingredients is important because having too many eggs would be a disaster. Similarly, the right volume balance between tracks is crucial.
icon-check-square-o Some ingredients have unnecessary parts that must be removed otherwise your cake will have bits of eggshells. Yuck! Audio tracks are trimmed in the editing phase, unwanted noise is removed and unneeded frequencies are notched out.
icon-check-square-o Most importantly, everything has to be blended and baked together to create a cohesive, delicious cake. Tracks need to fit the best interests of the song as a whole and work well with other elements.
The Bottom Line
So why do you need someone to mix your song? A recorded song is often like a rough, uncut diamond, unimpressive in appearance but with a beautiful, sparkly, professional-sounding song waiting to be unleashed. You can mix the song yourself but it’s a discipline in itself which requires practice to become good at it.