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  • Time/Hours

    All things being equal...which oughta take longer, Mixing or Mastering?

  • #2
    Both are iterative processes that require 2-3 passes with a day or two rest in between. Typically the first pass takes 60-90 minutes. Subsequent passes should take about 15-30 minutes each. I find that perspective and fresh ears are the most important part of both. Less is more.
    Signal Chain My Fingers - Gauge Strings; Reverend Sensei; Ibanez TS9; Keeley 2-Knob Compressor; Eventide Space Reverb - Pigtronix Infinity Looper; Fender Super Reverb (without reverb)


    • #3
      It depends on the complexity of the music and the quality of the tracks you have to work with. Every engineer develops a vision of what he thinks the music should sound like upon first hearing it but getting there can be a whole different story. There may be allot of first aid needed mixing if you have allot of tracks, especially with drums. Last job I did which consisted of three takes each of 4 songs took me a month to get them to sound like the original cover tunes. It was all because the drummer "Had" to use his own set of drums and I had little time to get the mics optimally set so they wound up having phase issues. Once I discovered what the problem was, it was relatively easy to fix. Then having the singer come back to do voice overs required another session and remix.

      On the other hand, When I'm recording my own music I both mix and target the exact tones I want when I track so very little mixing is needed by the time tracking is completed
      You can find many hit records that took months or even a year to mix, again depending on the standards the engineers have set for themselves and what the artists/producers expect as results.

      Mastering goes very quickly in comparison for me, probably because I been doing it so long. I know what results I get mixing and already know what can be done mastering to make it sound its best.
      The better the mix the less I need to do mastering but there can be some things that throw you for a loop and the first results may not be the best. Some cases you can have issues with frequency peaks and valleys make it impossible to use your ears only to fix. You often have to use audio testing tools to scientifically analyze the tracks to find the faults.

      Once you know what the faults are, you usually know if those faults are small enough to be corrected with mastering tools. If not you may have to go back to the mix or even re-track a part to get an optimal master. I've often had parts like a guitar on one side of a stereo mix that may wind up sounding too thin, too loud, misplaced in a stereo field that throws the mix off balance. It may even sound fine when listening to a mix but when you apply additional EQ Compression, Limiting when you master to make the overall mix sound great that part can get swallowed up or brought too far out front and requires fixing in the mix.

      In mastering you do what's best for the entire mix as a whole and if that means sending it back to the factory to have it reworked, then it comes down to whether its worth the cost effort and time to do it right or will good enough be good enough for the artist. Like they say, Time is money


      • #4
        Ok...lemme try adding some hypothetic details.
        Suppose there were 10 songs, each with only 4 tracks: Acoustic gtr...Vox...Electric gtr...Bck Vox.
        One take for each song.
        Needs mixing and mastering.
        I dont need to know how much time is spent on each. Simply, which would be quicker/longer?


        • #5
          No way of knowing without an experienced ear hearing what you have as tracks. It can be an easy job or a nightmare for someone to mix and master. What you can do is shop for prices. Many studios will give you a package deal for the lot or by the song. What you'll need to do is export the songs as a project file like a Sonar or Cubase project file or as individual tracks. You can then upload them to a site like Drop Box and then a studio can download them to work on them. Or you could burn them to a DVD if you want and send it to them. Most studios will give you a sample of their work with part of your recording so you have some idea what it will sound like before you hire them. Adding notes about what you want done can guide them as well. If you want a song to sound like another artists song or having key elements shine in the mix can be helpful; to an engineer.


          • #6
            For a typical pop/rock/country song, for a local or regional act, I'll budget about 4 hours for a mix. Any more or less is counter-productive.

            I don't do mastering, as I feel it's always better to have someone w/a fresh set of ears and the proper tools do this, but I'm pretty sure that they don't spend that long. Maybe a half hour to an hour for the first song, and then just tweaks to the rest?

            "Thank You, NASA!"