The mixing engineer finalizes a recorded piece of music by blending and balancing the various sonic elements to have the intended effect(s) and end with one final stereo track.
After receiving tracks from the recording engineer, the mixing engineer is responsible for manipulating the dynamics/volume properly for each section, tactically changing EQ and compression levels, and adding effects as needed (e.g., reverb, delays, etc.).
During this process, they share samples, that show the changes they're making to the record, in order to collaborate and take in feedback from others, such as the artist or producer.
Once all parties are content, the final mix of the recording, also called “the master,” is delivered to the client.
The assistant mixing engineer may set up microphones and headphones, run DAW setup or tape machines, help with documenting sessions, do session breakdowns, and (in some cases) perform rough mixes and balance settings for the engineer on the console.
The mixer joins the creative process at the end when the songwriting and production are all wrapped and it's time to finish it. The mixing process consists of various tasks. These can vary from quality control and making sure that everything sounds great, to making adjustments where needed and doing whatever it takes to have a solid final product.
“I think being able to ‘hang’ with the client and have a good time is a necessary skill. If you can't make people feel comfortable and enjoy working with you then they aren't going to ask you to work together, so you'll never get that opportunity to show them your skill. Build connections, friendships, communities and the rest will follow.”
– Yianni, Mixer
The key to getting better at mixing is practice. This means working and collaborating with anyone and everyone who is open to it. Many people offer up-and-coming bands recording or mixing services for free – on the one hand, this appeals to their budget, and on the other, it can build up your experience, connections, and portfolio as a mixer. Working with others improves not only your mixing but your communication and ability to collaborate with others, which are just as important in the music business. If possible, reach out to mixing engineers to shadow and learn from them in a studio setting, as an assistant/apprentice, etc.
The DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) used by mixing engineers vary due to personal preference and the choice is made by whatever works best for the individual. Some programs that are frequently used include ProTools, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and FL Studio.
Fabfilter, Soundtoys, UAD, Waves, Plugin Alliance, and many more plugins
DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation):
Music Notation Programs:
Mixing engineers can work as a freelancer or as full-time staff at a recording studio. For those who are part of a recording studio, they get to focus more on the work itself rather than finding gigs as they're in an established position. However, they may do their own work on the side as well.
As a freelancer, your clientele can vary from recording studios to producers, recording artists, or TV/film/video game studios. They make their own opportunities by working with friends or through word of mouth. Recommendations from others like previous clients or industry connections can also help them in acquiring work. Some use the SoundBetter platform or social media platforms such as Instagram to find new clients.
A mixing engineer can also find work in live entertainment as a live sound mix engineer or in the film as a re-recording mixer.
Mixing engineers typically get paid a fixed amount per track. Usually, this amount can vary from $500 to $5000 depending on the experience of the mixer. Sometimes they may offer a bundle for a larger number of tracks (e.g. album). If a deal weaves in a royalty fee/percentage, it directly affects the fee they charge (e.g. a lower fee and a higher royalty cut or vice versa).
While some engineers might not involve themselves in the business/financial side and hire a team to take care of it, others take more of an interest and manage it themselves.
Mixing engineers can own part of the copyright of the Master/Sound Recording. The kind and amount of copyright they own depend on their involvement in the process of the creation of the song, as well as the roles they've taken on (e.g. if they were involved in production or songwriting)
The mixer is typically not present at the recording sessions. The recording engineer sends the tracks to them after the recording sessions and they then work on them in the studio by themselves. However, their workspace might be equipped for recording to be used occasionally if, for example, an overdub of a vocal is needed.
Whatever word puts across “able to make the client feel comfortable” and being enjoyable to work with
Music production software
High attention span/focused
Typically a mixing engineer spends 4 to 8 hours mixing a song and gets through about two songs per day (sometimes more). In some cases, a song can take them 3 or 4 days, depending on the work that needs to be done. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to mix an album and this will occupy most of the mixing engineer’s focus/time.
You also need to account for the time taken to send the mix to the artist, receive their feedback, and the repetition of those steps as needed until the artist is satisfied
The first step to getting started is finding your spark. Some people find it by learning instruments, joining and playing in high school/college bands, etc., while others feel passion for the recording/mixing aspect of music when they record in a studio. One will typically have a preference of either being in the studio/behind the scenes or out on stage, but there are many that enjoy both.
Courses and Universities
Some other online resources (paid and unpaid)
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
An integrated computer-based recording system that commonly offers a number of production features such as advanced multitrack recording, editing and mixdown capabilities, MIDI sequencing, edit and score capabilities, and integration with hardware devices such as controllers, MIDI, and audio interface devices.
Also known as the board or desk, it allows the engineer to combine, control, and distribute the input and output signals of most, if not all, of the devices found in the control room (microphones, electronic instruments, effects devices, recording systems and other audio devices).
The ability to send any input signal from a source to a destination.
Artistic process in which the audio is repeatedly played while adjustments in level, panning, EQ, effects, and other areas are made for each track and/or track grouping.
Written by Nikita
Designed by Lou
Published May 9th 2022
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