We’ve rounded up some of Pyramind’s most helpful mixing and mastering tutorials for producers struggling to give their songs more depth and punch. First, we need to get an important question out of the way:
What’s the difference between mixing and mastering?
Mixing and mastering are often thought of as a single process, one in the same. Although they compliment each other, they are entirely different procedures that require radically different approaches.
What is Mixing
Mixing affects all of the individual tracks within a song–it happens before mastering. The mixing process involves balancing volume levels, boosting or reducing certain frequencies on individual tracks, automation, panning, and adding various audio effects.
“It’s not about the plugin, it’s about what you do with it” – Matt Donner, Pyramind CAO
One of the most important things to do as you mix a song is watch your master meter. If you mix everything too loudly, your mastering engineer won’t have any room to master the song. A good general rule to follow is to not let the volume of your final mixdown go above -6dB to -3dB. If your song is too loud, make sure you turn down individual tracks in your project, not the master fader. Ask your mastering engineer what they recommend as a volume limit for your mix.
Another general rule of thumb is to avoid putting a compressor or limiter on your master output. Many mastering engineers prefer the master output channel to have as little signal processing as possible. Do your best on each channel strip to tame your sounds and get them where you want during your mix. Then move on to mastering.
What is Mastering
Mastering happens after mixing. It can be thought of as the final step in your production process. A mastering engineer might use similar effects that are used in mixing–EQs, compressors etc.–but the effects are applied to a single stereo audio file–the final mix of your song.
Although many mastering engineers use hardware effects, it is possible to achieve a great sounding master–all within your DAW of choice. The concepts in the videos below can be applied in any DAW, and are designed to be helpful to even the most amateur bedroom producer.
Ableton Live Mixing Tips – Introduction
In the following video, pro mix engineer and Pyramind instructor, Liam Shy, gives you his “number-one-must-do-every-time” mixing tips.
Ableton Live Mixing Tips – The basics | Compression or EQ first?
In the following video, Matt Donner tackles the age-old question: What comes first, Compression or EQ? Mastering engineers tend to differ on this question, and this tutorial will help you decide what’s right for you.
Mastering with iZotope
In the following video, iZotope product specialist Brandon Carroll walks us through Ozone 7, a widely-used mastering tool that can be used as a plugin or separately as a standalone application.
Mastering in Ableton Live with Engineer Mac Vaughn
Mastering engineer and techno producer Mac Vaughn goes over each device in his personal mastering chain in Ableton Live. Click here to get 1-on-1 instruction from Mac Vaughn himself.