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What is the difference between mixing and mastering?

Though mixing and mastering are similar when it comes to tools and techniques, the two process are undeniably different. Mixing typically refers to a multitrack recording, where mastering is the final polish of a mixdown. To clarify:

Mixing is the process of blending all the individual tracks in a recording to create the best version of a song, or the “mix”. It includes balancing the levels of the recorded tracks, fine tuning the sound of each voice and instrument using "EQ", or equalization and compression, panning the tracks to create a stereo image, and adding reverb, delays, and other effects to enhance the original recording.

"Stems" are groups of single audio tracks mixed together to be processed as one track. Stems are also referred to as submixes or subgroups. For example, if there are 32 background vocal tracks in your song, it is common to “subgroup” them down to one file, or one track, for easier processing. This helps keep your session organized, and also takes less computer processing power - always a good thing.

All we ask is that you keep your file size under 1GB. We realize this may mean that you need to bounce down “stems” of tracks in your session. Say for instance you have 4 sets of background vocals (harmonies, etc), each stacked 4 times. Rather than giving us 16 files, it would be better for you to bounce a "stem" or stereo file of each background part, effectively consolidating them down to 4 clean stereo tracks. We also know you’re an artist. We trust your ears! If you have something blended the way that you like it, by all means bounce the stem of that blend and send it to us! This way we can be sure to keep it as close as possible to your liking. Just be aware, if you send us a bounce down of a stem, we can’t separate the parts in that stereo file during the mix.

Simply put, a reference mix is a 2 track bounce of your song with basic volume, panning, and effects levels set. This mix should give our mix engineers a good idea of what direction you want to go with your song. Don’t stress yourself out with the details - that’s our job!

We recommend you export your files and stems as 24 bit, 48k .wav files, although any quality .wav file is acceptable. We will accept larger bit depth and sample rates, however you may not be able to fit it all into the 1GB file limit. We do accept mp3s, although mp3s will reduce the quality of the mix.

There are many definitions of mastering, but most commonly, the term mastering refers to taking the stereo file of a good mix and putting the final touches on it, or “sweetening” the mix. This includes applying "EQ", compression and limiting to prepare the song for distribution and broadcast.


 

No matter what DAW you use, always export, or “bounce down” your files to be mixed from the beginning of the session, or the “zero” mark. This way when we import your tracks, they will all line up as you meant for them to be. The other most important thing is to clean up any tracks that you are not using, or that you do not wish to send to urmixd.com by deleting and muting unused tracks. We recommend saving a copy of your session before the clean up and export process, so you can always go back to your old session if you’re missing something. Due to the 1GB upload limit, we recommend 24bit, 48k .wav files. We will gladly accept higher quality files, however keep in mind the better the quality, the larger the file size, so you may not be able to fit them all into a 1GB folder! Here are the steps to export your files from the most common DAWs

We respect your creativity and your hard work. Your songs are yours alone. The terms you have agreed to give us the limited rights to be able to offer this service. We will never share your work, unless you want us to! Everything you upload to urmixd stays completely private. If you have any additional concerns, please email us at support@urmixd.com.

For now, urmixd can only accept files up to 1GB, so please be sure your file is within the size limit before uploading. Also, it may take some time for it to upload, so give it a little time. If there are any other problems, email us at support@urmixd.com and we’ll be happy to help out!

Our streamlined process is what allows us to rock your mix in such a short time, and for such a low price! However, we absolutely understand if you need more, you perfectionist you. We have a few options for you:

1.) An additional revision package of 6 is available for $20, or we have a package of 10 changes for $35. Due to the fact that we need to get going on your next mix (hint hint), we must limit the additional revisions (if you need them) to the packages of 6 or 10.

2.) If the revision process we have set up on urmixd.com still isn’t, we do have our award- winning mix engineers on call to dig a little deeper, for a bit of a deeper price. Contact us at support@urmixd.com for rates and to discuss how we can get it just how you need it.

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