There is an incredible change in the sound of the song from the recording stage to the music mixing stage. The processing, the effects, the EQ and compression that’s done to make a (hopefully) great song sound even better.
You’ve all heard about getting things great at the source. Record it well and then you might not have to do an awful lot to it in the mixing phase. It will make the mixing process easier if you have great sounds to work with.
But what if you don’t have a great sounding recording to work with?
That’s when you have to pull out all the stops and make the best of all the processing power you got to make an awful recording sound great.
But what does music mixing really do to a track? Since all we hear are mixed and mastered songs on the radio it’s hard to compare the original recorded tracks to the final versions.
Below I have a sample of a track my old band did when I was nineteen. We recorded this track way back in 2006 but nothing was ever done to it. A few months back I was looking through some files and came across the session files and decided that the song needed a proper burial. By burial I mean properly mixing it before forgetting about it all over again.
Comparing a Recording to the Mixed Version
I wanted to do a A/B comparison of how different an unmixed version would sound compared to a final mix. Therefore I bounced the umixed version with only the faders leveled off so that you could hear everything clearly; some instruments were recorded way louder than others so in the interest of audibility I tweaked the faders a little.
After mixing the track I compared it to the unmixed one. It kind of sounded like the same song, but nothing like the same session.
Take a listen below:[audio:http://audio-issues.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/thekill.mp3|titles=thekill]
The audio goes back and forth between the two versions so that you can hear the radical difference between the two.
Here is the full mixed version of the song as well:
Mixing Makes it Louder
As you can hear in the audio sample the mixed version sounds substantially louder due to all the processing and such. I mix with my faders very low so that I don’t compromise the master bus but I still end up with a much bigger waveform than before.
Now, this is just a mixed track and hasn’t been professionally mastered. The final mix does have a little SSL Quad compression on the master bus to tighten things up a bit but otherwise it’s just a regular mix. If I were to actually do anything more to it I would send it to a professional mastering engineer to get a great sounding “Record” sound out of it. But for the purpose of this article and my listening enjoyment that sounds like a waste of money.
Mixing makes your music sound much better. This is an undeniable fact. I don’t care how great your recordings sound like, they can always be tweaked to sound just a little bit better in the mixing phase. That’s why mixing engineers have jobs, because the sound can only be so good during tracking. It’s when you mix all those beautiful tracks together that you get a great sounding, mixed whole.
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Image by : Timsnell