Are You Listening? | Mixing Meets Mastering (Sylvia Massy & Jonathan Wyner)
Mixing Mastering

Are You Listening? | Mixing Meets Mastering (Sylvia Massy & Jonathan Wyner)

Matthew Vere
Matthew Vere

Sylvia Massy learned how to mix by comparing her work to the tracks she heard on the radio and A/B'ing between the two to reveal the differences.

Uses a mix template and A/B's to check what each component is doing and if it needs adjusting.

Mixes channels into mix groups/busses.

The time constants on Ozone's Vintage Limiter models the Fairchild 670 (tube mode).

Turns stems down to -30dB, giving her plenty of headroom to work without the mix sounding pinched.

MV: Mixing from a lower volume in Electronic Music is a good starting point for proper gain structure.

Mastering engineers often make changes, say widening the stereo image that can bring clarity to the top end, but this can come at the expense of burying a lead vocal behind the freshly exposed guitar part. In this case, if Sylvia likes the master, she'll send over a new version with the vocal louder, for the mastering engineer to run back through the chain with identical settings.

MV: As much as we should separate the two processes, I often find myself going back and forth between bouncing a new mix to master in Ozone standalone as the master can reveal problem areas in a mix. Often making five different versions and testing each on a range of mediums can yield the best results.

The tonal balance plugin has had thousands of records run through it and with machine learning has calculated the average distribution of frequencies across many genres of music. It's a useful tool to see if you're in the ballpark for what is considered a 'normal' mix.

MV: In Electronic music, there is no normal. But, as humans, we tend to prefer more low energy to high, for example. If your mix is way off, the tonal balance plugin is an excellent way of bringing everything back into alignment from which you can take additional creative risks if required.

Sylvia wouldn't push anyone away from mastering their mixes as many do. There is much to be gained from A/B'ing your work against great reference material (MV: in 24-bit WAV, not MP3/YT Rips). This way, you can dissect the differences and work out what makes it sound good and ultimately, how you can apply that to your music.