Do you really need a mixing and mastering engineer?

How hard can it really be? 

Posted: 24 September 2019

A little while ago we uploaded an article called 5 DIY Mixing and Mastering tips and today we want to tackle the question: Should you really be doing it yourself?

firstly, whats the difference between the two?

Mixing and mastering are two very different roles and while they are closely linked, the skill sets required are vastly different. Professional engineers usually specialise in mixing OR mastering for a reason.

That being said, Can i do it myself?

Absolutely

But it’s unlikely you will be both an amazing masterer and mixer. Like we said earlier, they’re both very different skills but they are both skills that you can learn. Perhaps you’re the producer of your band, or you’ve dabbled in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) before and already have a rough idea of the process. Every mixing and mastering engineer started somewhere. They’re skills that take time to perfect but that’s not to say that you couldn’t learn them yourself, and save a large amount of money in the process!

Perhaps you’re a fresh band and you need to get some songs out there to start attracting a fan base, or you want to give the people who have come to your gigs something to listen to. In the early days of a band, shelling out all your wages towards  mixing and mastering engineers is daunting and not always necessary. With time, you should be able to create rough mixes and masters that are at a level to at least excite your fans. Yes, it may take hours to get to that level, but a rough mix and master is better than not having one at all.

What would i need to be able to do it?

You have two main options:

So why let someone else do it?

There’s a reason people make a living as mixing and mastering engineers. These professions take some serious skill to master. The  engineers that you’ll be sending your tracks to will have spent thousands of hours sat behind their mixing desks so will be able to get you that radio ready sound in a flash.

Let’s be honest, by the time you get to the mixing and mastering stage, you’ve heard your track hundreds of times over. You’ve probably come to love the imperfections in your track, or you may just overlook them. A mixing engineer might be able to bring new possibilities to a song that you’d not thought of and they’ll help you get over that song fatigue. It’s always better to have two/ three sets of ears on a track than just yours.

Also you’ve not become a musician to sit behind your computer all day. Writing and performing your songs is where you shine so why not let someone else take over from the details while you can focus on getting your ideas down? Save your sanity and have someone else bring it to a professional level, so you don’t have to.

But

Do you have the money for it? Mixing and mastering should ideally be done by separate engineers, each one specialising in their respective craft. They’re not going to be able to perfect your song overnight and it’s going to cost you a pretty penny if you want it done to a high standard. You just might not have the cash flow for it right now and that’s okay – let us direct you to our 5 DIY Mixing and Mastering tips article so you can have a stab at it yourself.