Tracking, mixing and mastering – what’s the difference?

Do you love making music but the terms tracking, mixing and mastering leave you scratching your head in confusion? Read this article and let us help clear things up for you.

Tracking

Tracking simply means the process of recording tracks. It’s called ‘tracking’ because each recorded element is given it’s own track so that the balance and effects can be controlled individually later on. Tracking can either be done with more than musician playing at once, or is done one instrument at a time (or a mixture) depending on how you want the track to sound.

mixing and producing in the studio - www.twine.fm

Mixing

Mixing is the process of blending all the individual tracks in a recording to make it sound as good as possibly can. The blended tracks are known as ‘the mix’. Mixing a track involves balancing the volume levels of the tracks (either manually or via automation), boosting and cutting frequencies (also known as EQing), panning tracks left and right to create the stereo field and adding effects.

Mixing often involves lots of editing and picking between the best variations of each track. Ideally though, the editing work will have been done before hand so they can focus on the mix itself.

 

mixing desk

Mastering

Whereas mixing involves blending tracks together, mastering involves balancing the tracks so that nothing jumps out in the record. This can vary from adding minor tweaks to the mix, through to completely reworking and restoring, although there’s only so much that can be done on any track.

Mastering also involves editing the beginning an ends of songs, and the gaps in albums so they play smoothly. Their finished product is called a ‘master’ and includes including all the necessary meta data and codes.

mixing console

We hope this article has cleared everything up for you. If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments below.

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Joe Scarffe

Joe Scarffe

Joe is the Community and Marketing Manager and is currently finishing up a PhD in music at Birmingham Conservatoire and still hasn’t got over his addiction to coffee. He loves getting involved in crazy music projects and plays the bassoon, oboe, piano, recorder and guitar. He also makes lots of electronic music and loves collaborating. He sings too if you ask nicely and once shamefully sang as a backing singer for Will Young. When he’s not moaning about the state of the music industry or public transport in Manchester, he works with the Twine community and handles social media, the blog and partnerships with companies and institutions.

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Joe Scarffe

Joe Scarffe

Joe is the Community and Marketing Manager and is currently finishing up a PhD in music at Birmingham Conservatoire and still hasn’t got over his addiction to coffee.

He loves getting involved in crazy music projects and plays the bassoon, oboe, piano, recorder and guitar. He also makes lots of electronic music and loves collaborating. He sings too if you ask nicely and once shamefully sang as a backing singer for Will Young.

When he’s not moaning about the state of the music industry or public transport in Manchester, he works with the Twine community and handles social media, the blog and partnerships with companies and institutions.

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