Beginner music producers and enthusiasts often do not grasp the concept of mixing. In this article, I have tried to simplify the answer to the very basic question i.e. what is mixing in music.
What Is Mixing In Music and Audio?
The process of combining multiple recorded sounds into one or more channels, i.e. mono, stereo or surround, is known as audio mixing. E.g., if a drum set is recorded live, all the different parts of the drum kit like the bass drum, toms, snares, cymbals etc. are recorded using separate microphones onto several channels(known as a multitrack recording). This is done to record the better sound characteristics of each instrument sound. Once the recording is finished, all the separate drum sounds are adjusted for different aspects like volume level, frequency content, dynamics, panoramic position etc. These adjustments constitute the process of mixing.
Mixing is relatively challenging and hard, especially for newcomers. You require in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of audio engineering process. Mixing also demands well-trained ears. Many people consider mixing to be an art form. The more you practice and indulge in it, the better you get at it.
Why Audio Mixing Is Done?
Mixing is done to make the sound tall, deep, wide and cohesive. After mixing is completed, the finished product is a lot more appealing to listeners. Without mixing, your tracks will sound rough and unfinished. They will not translate well on different speakers and sound systems.
How Audio Mixing Is Done?
Music, movies, television, and live sound all use audio mixing. A mixing engineer using a mixing console or digital audio workstation(DAW) is usually in charge of the process.
Mixing is majorly a six-part process. This includes, but is not limited to: -
- Mix Prep - Cleaning Up and Editing
- Balancing - Levelling and Panning
- Subtractive Equalisation
- Dynamic Processing - Compression and Expansion
- Tonal Equalisation
- Adding FX and Interest
The complete process is carried out before the mastering stage. You will learn a lot more about all these different aspects of mixing in future articles.
In the next article, learn about evolution and different styles of mixing music.