How artists are mixing and mastering their music has changed a lot recently. 30 years ago, mixing and mastering was a magical art form that was expensive and hard to come by, but things are different now. Online companies offer these services, software exists to make it easier, and much of the equipment has become digital which makes mixing and mastering more affordable.
While it’s true that modern technology allows you to mix (and somewhat master) your music at home, you probably won’t be able to match the quality you can achieve in a professional studio. Below we’ll look at how things have changed and explain the three reasons why nothing beats a professional recording studio.
The shortcomings of an improvised audio workstation
As you probably know, mixing is combining multiple audio layers together into one final track. This process is essential to every level of music production; you literally won’t have a track if you don’t mix it.
Mastering is putting the polish on your newly mixed track. When you master something, you’re refining the sound at all levels to ensure that it’s optimized. While mixing is a skill that can be picked up pretty quickly, mastering requires a deep understanding of music theory and professional equipment in order for it to be done effectively.
Nobody’s saying that a MacBook alone can’t do a lot when it comes to music production. Garageband is a powerful tool that you can get a great mix from if you know what you’re doing. It all comes down to the level of professionalism you need. Are you making music for fun? Is this just a demo? Or, are you trying to put together a sellable album?
So if not at home then where?
If you need the highest quality sound possible, then you’re going to have to do the work in a recording studio on professional equipment.
Why is a professional recording studio the best place for mixing and mastering?
Professional Setup/Design: Every aspect of a professional recording studio is built with sound production at its heart. Everything from the choice of flooring to the material that the walls are made of has been selected to ensure that nothing interferes with sound capture. The same can be said of the audio workstations and equipment that you’ll find in a professional studio. Mixing and mastering on a workstation that was custom built to provide you with the utmost control and speed is incredible, to say the least. The staff at a studio will usually be available too to help you use the space to its maximum potential as well.
Analog Equipment: We are living in a digital age of music production, but nothing can beat the level of quality and control you can achieve with analog equipment. Most studios will use a combination of both analog and digital equipment and working on a setup like that can really expand your options. As this article by Scientific American states:
“analog captures a physical process whereas digital uses mathematics to reduce the process to finite bits of information.”
Analog and digital are fundamentally different ways of capturing sound. While it may be difficult to say that one is hands down better than the other, analog equipment can give you ideas and take your music in new directions.
Highest possible quality: The value of booking time to mix and master in a professional studio comes from the inherent quality of your final product. There’s no way to get the same level of sound quality that you can get in a recording studio anywhere else. If you’re making music so that you can sell it, you really can’t afford anything less than time at a recording studio.
Plan your studio time accordingly
As a music professional, you need a place to work, but what if you only need access to a studio a few times a month? Many times sound engineers work project to project, and it’s rare that they need access to a recording studio all the time. Much of the legwork of a project can be done at home, and you may only need to access the equipment that a studio has for a few hours to put the final touches on a project.
If you plan things correctly, you can combine working from home with limited studio time only when you need it you can maximize the profitability and quality of your projects. Regardless, the fact remains that nothing beats mixing and mastering in a professional studio.
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