What is the Difference between Sound Mixing and Mastering?

The modern music industry is a big place to be in. This doesn’t include only the writers, singers, musicians, and other creative people but the engineers of sound as well. You must have heard about sound mixing engineers and mastering engineering. Although these are two very different positions and have different operations to execute, often people misunderstand them as one. 

Making a song is a complicated process and needs hours if not days of minutely detailed work. People having technical knowledge sometimes treat both mixing & mastering as one but they are different. This article will expose you to both Sound Mixing and Sound Mastering and how they differ. 

What is Sound Mixing?

Sound mixing is a major step in creating a new song. It balances, treats, and combines the various sounds of instruments & vocals multitrack into a multichannel format. It is the first stage of Audio production where you entirely mix up the very different sounds and add effects to them to build a new composition and later for distribution. For this, musicians first record all the tracks separately and then mix them in a multichannel format. Here comes the role of a sound mixing engineer. 

Sound Mixing

The sound mixing engineer uses several tools such as EQ, compression, panning, and reverb and mixes all the separate tracks to look cohesive and solid. Without proper engineering, the sounds will sound bizarre and layered one above another. The engineer makes the whole soundtrack melodies by minimising the clashing sounds to make the song more emotionally impactful. Moreover, the engineers also use reverb, modulation, pitch, or FX to make it more effective. 

What is Sound Mastering?

Sound Mastering comes next to the mixing step. Once you have your song, mastering engineers comes into the role. They improve the sound quality and enhance the final product of mixing. This is to create the sound ready for compact discs, vinyl cutting masters, and digital files to be streamed or downloaded. Mastering sound requires only one track. It is one stereo at a time only. The engineers add the final touch with the right sound and flow to feel a resemblance with the album. 

Mastering a song is the final wall of defence of any sound, single, EP, or album before it releases. Therefore it has an important task to do. A mastering engineer works on a single track carved out from mixing 10 or 20 or more tracks to polish the work to shine on every conceivable playback system. Typically sound mastering engineers use only three tools: EQ, a compressor, and a limiter across a stereo. The motive is to achieve translational and relational to match all the songs in the album. Often creating something like this results in timeless masterpieces that are loved for decades long. Experts go beyond the three tools and fix all even minute issues. 

Differences between Mixing & Mastering:

We are sure you now understand what sound mixing & sound mastering definitions are. Here are the major differences between them to explain it further. 

– Mastering a song comes after mixing a song. It is the final piece on the product before release. 

– Mixing requires multitrack sounds of vocals & instruments combined into one while mastering requires only one stereo track to fine-tune. 

– Mixing works with different musical instruments by achieving balance among them to create a song. Mastering work on a complete song to make it balanced with other songs. 

– Mixing enhances the emotions of the artists whereas mastering improves the sound quality of the final song. 

– Mixing & Mastering engineers work with different gears and tools. 


Sound mixing & mastering are two different operations to make a song ready for release. However, most people don’t know the difference between the two. This blog explains both mixing & mastering separately and explains the differences between the two as well. 






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