Mastering over the Mix?

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In the concept, a topic raised in a previous article, the mastering is the process of uniforming the sonority of one or more tracks (songs), which will be contained in an audio medium (CD, vinyl, pendrive, etc.). This process controls the precise amount of treble, medium and bass, as well as the dynamics (compression, limitation) and the final level of the tracks that will be contained in a record. In this way we made sure that the result is according to the industry standards.


The Mix

A well done mix is the one where we find a good level balance in a musical program, as well as balance in the frequency spectrum between instruments of similar tonal colors. It is important to respect the sonority of each instrument or modify  just the necessary to generate space in the mix to this or other instrument that moves in a very close frequency range. Depending on the number of tracks that exist in the musical arrangement and the importance you want to give to each instrument, it is possible to sacrifice part of the amplitude of one or some frequency ranges, highlighting the most representative of a particular instrument, taking care to affect just the necessary to prevent this from loses its naturalness.



The Mastering

When I received a well-balanced work, it just need to modify little things to give to the mix the presence, the brightness, and the precise body according to the industry standards. When the balance in a mix is not good, it is necessary to fix excesses or flaws of level in some specific frequency range, or to apply multiband compression to control the frequency of some instrument that exceed level or is poorly equalized. These processes helps to solve the problems of the mix, but usually causing some degradation of what it was correctly balanced.


It remembers to me, a case appeared in a forum some time ago, where a song was rejected by a radio for not meeting certain standards, even though it was mastered by a recognized engineer. Listening to the final master, you can hear everything ok in the general equalization, but analyzing individual instruments, the deficiencies in mixing techniques appeared. That neither the best mastering is able to fix it.


You should not think of the mastering as the magic solution to better a poor mix. Both stages are equally important. A well done mastering helps to improve a good mix. Or a good mix makes it very easy to achieve a good mastering process. But mixing and mastering can lead to the opposite effect if they are not done with knowledge. Complement each other.

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