Mixing vs. Mastering: Which one should take longer?

DjCartel

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#3
i never get this question. mixing is something i do as i go along. people seem to put 5 sounds in all fighting for simialr frequencies, then try and balance them all out at the same time. why not put a sound in, make it fit and then put another sound in and repeat. To me mixing isnt a stage, its a part of building the tune that should be given attention all the time, as for mastering, i get some one else to do it as i just make it sound worse.
 
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#4
Mixing takes longer. If mastering takes longer for you then it means that there is a lot wrong with your mix.
Okay, I get it.
i never get this question. mixing is something i do as i go along. people seem to put 5 sounds in all fighting for simialr frequencies, then try and balance them all out at the same time. why not put a sound in, make it fit and then put another sound in and repeat. To me mixing isnt a stage, its a part of building the tune that should be given attention all the time, as for mastering, i get some one else to do it as i just make it sound worse.
So then, mastering should be quick?
 

Dark Lizardro

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#5
i never get this question. mixing is something i do as i go along. people seem to put 5 sounds in all fighting for simialr frequencies, then try and balance them all out at the same time. why not put a sound in, make it fit and then put another sound in and repeat. To me mixing isnt a stage, its a part of building the tune that should be given attention all the time, as for mastering, i get some one else to do it as i just make it sound worse.
I agree with you, as I too do a rough mixing on the go. But I always listen to the mix after the song is finished, so I can locate any problem I couldn't while I was doing the song.
 

Mania

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#6
Mixing, as a process, generally takes longer. But mixing starts as soon as you start creating different elements for your track, and is ongoing throughout.
Mastering however is only after everything else is done, and can take a very long time depending on how through you want to be.
Setting up references can take a really long time and is a huge bitch, and for extra thoroughness, getting other people to listen to it can also add a lot of time to it.
It can go either way really, depending on your workflow and how much you give a fuck.
 
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#7
I agree with you, as I too do a rough mixing on the go. But I always listen to the mix after the song is finished, so I can locate any problem I couldn't while I was doing the song.
Do you listen to it after the mix has been mastered or before it's mastered?

- - - Updated - - -

Mixing, as a process, generally takes longer. But mixing starts as soon as you start creating different elements for your track, and is ongoing throughout.
Mastering however is only after everything else is done, and can take a very long time depending on how through you want to be.
Setting up references can take a really long time and is a huge bitch, and for extra thoroughness, getting other people to listen to it can also add a lot of time to it.
It can go either way really, depending on your workflow and how much you give a fuck.
It usually takes a few hours for me to master stuffs.

- - - Updated - - -

Also (Might be out of main topic), is it okay if I cut 30Hz and 18khz? I've been doing it to most of my tracks.
 

Dark Lizardro

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#8
Do you listen to it after the mix has been mastered or before it's mastered?
After and before. What I normally do is to bounce the song down after finishing the mixing stage, and listening to it again, and again, and again, trying to figure out if everything is in place. Then, I go to the mastering part. After that, I listen to it again, on multiple sets (my good headphones, my crappy earbuds, my home stereo, my car) and ask some friends (who are not as audiophile as myself) to listen to it, and give me feedback, on anything from how it sounds, to if it has a nice energy.


Also (Might be out of main topic), is it okay if I cut 30Hz and 18khz? I've been doing it to most of my tracks.
I do that too, as any infra/ultra frequencies can occupy unecessary headroom space.
 

sam the dnb man

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#9
I like to mix as I go along but I find it hard to maintain a vibe whilst working in a tune when I do it. I end up spending hours on making my drums punchy that sit well with a big bass line. I'll end up losing momentum and getting sick of the track.
 

Deekay[AUS]

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#10
Mastering always comes down to the engineer, the quality of the source track. Mixing is more of a progression as you work with your tune. In other words, how long is a piece of string.
 
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RUSSLA

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#11
I like to mix as I go along but I find it hard to maintain a vibe whilst working in a tune when I do it. I end up spending hours on making my drums punchy that sit well with a big bass line. I'll end up losing momentum and getting sick of the track.
Yeh I hear that, When building a track I only allow myself a couple of minutes getting things fit otherwise you deffo lose the vibe. A decent balance is needed when mixing and being creative
 

Mania

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#12
I like to mix as I go along but I find it hard to maintain a vibe whilst working in a tune when I do it. I end up spending hours on making my drums punchy that sit well with a big bass line. I'll end up losing momentum and getting sick of the track.
Yeah, that seems to be a problem with a lot of producers, and what ive learnt from listening to top producers is preprocessing is very important in making good sounding tunes. Making sure your drums are punchy and your bassline is mix-ready are things that should be done in a separate session to actually putting together a track. The successful guys preach building your own sample library of things that can go straight in is essential in keeping a good mood and workflow when actually righting a tune, which i've recently tried to apply myself.
 
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#13
What I learnt in school is that when one mixes a song perfectly, the mastering engineer gives you the file back and says "Anything I tried made it worse." So mixing, mixing, mixing - the meaning of mastering has been blurred and molested anyways lately. Putting an "mega-uber-limiter" into master channel and setting threshold to -80 dB aint necessarily mastering because you can also do it in your mixing stage... If you, for example, think you can make the song sound better by taking 3dB off from 300hz and boosting 100 to get more low-end without clipping, muddying and losing clarity and punch, THAT is mastering - at least for me.

Conclusion: mixing takes and should take longer.
 
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#14
It would be like asking how much time a mix should take. If you need time, and you got time, use the time. Of course, if your mastering requires you to sit and tweak the same parameter for two whole days, then there's probably either something wrong with the mix, or with you. Mastering, in my opinion, should be very subtle, since you're not really trying to alter the sound design, but you are almost literally polishing the mix.

And I agree with Interruptor - if the mix is perfect, and the engineer is very honest, no mastering will be needed or done, maybe except for spewing it out on vinyls, CDs or whatever, and optimizing the sound for each format. Well, that is, if that is still a part of "mastering" :) And in that case, paying someone to do it is probably better and more time-efficient than you doing it yourself.
 

lostnthesound

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#17
I like to mix as I go along but I find it hard to maintain a vibe whilst working in a tune when I do it. I end up spending hours on making my drums punchy that sit well with a big bass line. I'll end up losing momentum and getting sick of the track.
^ This. Spot on.

Its a double edge sword for me personally. I want to "lightly" mix as I add more elements and then save the surgical eqing and other more intensive mixing tasks once the track has a rough arrangement. Sadly, I definitely have bouts (many) where the end result is as sam the dnb man mentioned above.

Msmith222 and I typically send all final projects out for mastering, primarily because we like having a completely unbiased set of ears do his or her thing to make the tune crank, but i digress.
 
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#18
Some producers like to split their studio time in 2 halves. In first half they think about what they wanna achieve and make samples accordingly, EQ'ing, compressing and giving them a certain additude. And in the second half they just slap the sounds in and mess around with them, in other words... just sequencing, getting ideas down as they come from your head because they know that they have made the samples sound good before and don't need to worry much about transients of the samples or compressing that much etc. And another good thing with this is that it's much lighter on your cpu (obviously)!

And yeah.. mixing takes longer usually. :p
 
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BassGorilla.com

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#19
Samthednbman nailed it on the head. I generally spend a whole day mixing down a track, and the mastering process usually takes about 2 or 3 hours max.

2 years ago I would spend weeks on the mix down if I thought the track was good and wanted to send it to a label.

Sometimes you'll realize that something is wrong in your mix when you hear it mastered. In this case you need to change that thing in the original mix, export it, and then master it from scratch.
 

Serum

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#20
I don't bother mastering. I'll make the whole track, burn it onto a CD and test it in the mix, then keep tweaking until it stands up against other tracks. Sometimes I get it right first time but other times I have to go back in several times to rework or replace any sounds that let the track down.

If the track comes out on vinyl it'll get mastered but otherwise I make sure it's good enough for a digital release when it leaves my studio.

Some people get good results from doing a separate master but it doesn't work for me.

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