Mixing, Mastering & Mixtering ?
While mixing and mastering were quite separate processes in the past nowadays the line gets thinner and thinner. Why is that? And why does or doesn’t this matter?
Because of the many new high quality plug-ins, sample editors, digital effect processors and computers, nixing and mastering has gotten easier and many people can afford it nowadays.
Just over a year ago editing on a computer with a sample editor took about 2.5 times the time it took on an expensive Pentium 200 compared to a cheap Celeron 400 System now. Outboard effect processors are equipped with 20 or 24 bit A/D converters and are packed with high quality digital effects, and getting cheaper. New plug-ins seem to pop-up every week with high quality effects and even cheaper. The only thing that hasn’t gotten cheaper is the expensive analog gear some people use for mastering.
But should or do all these things matter to the way music is produced, mixed and mastered?
Mixing used to be the process, and still is, of mixing multiple or many tracks back to a stereo track. The most important factors while mixing, of course, are getting all tracks at the right level in the mix. Usually this involves setting the equalizers for each independent track and if needed some compression on a track. The basic idea behind the mixing is getting the stereo track to sound good while all the important instruments are there, the left / right and stereo balance is right and a good direct/depth ratio.
While effects were used mainly on the busses of the mixing tracks, these days it’s easier to have almost any effect you want as an insert on a separate track. Not to long ago most effects were either recorded directly on to a track with an effect processor between the microphone and the recording device and you would have to live with it, or you did have to do a lot of editing to get all the effects on the dry recorded track.
With all these effects running on tracks, mixes can sound very good already so why do you need mastering? At least, that’s what a lot of people seem to think when making/recording music and mixing.