“Can mastering save a bad mix?” is a common question. The short answer? = Yes…. to an extent.
It’s always better to fix your mix at the mix stage, rather than waiting to fix the mix in mastering, but what if you don’t have the project file anymore, and still love the track. Do you have to settle for a rubbish mix? No way!
What can mastering fix?
To understand this, we need to have a quick understanding of what mastering engineers do, how mastering works, what mastering a song does and of course why mastering is important.
An experienced (human) mastering engineer will give your music the professional finish you want.
The quality of your final result is a reflection of the entire process back from the first time you pressed “record”.
But great mastering can skew the reflection in your favour, like a flattering fairground mirror.
Common mix problems yield different results:
- Bad mix room problems and inexperienced mix decisions can often be evened out dramatically.
- Mixes that are badly clipped and have no dynamic range can have their bounce restored and sound alive again.
- Badly recorded instruments, or an overall “dull” sound from using cheap mics can be enhanced and enlivened.
- Hiss can be removed, with varying results ranging from totally flawless, to just a bit better.
- A flabby bottom-end can be tightened up beautifully, still retaining the weight and heft (still talking about audio here).
The Art Of Compromise
Mastering a bad mix is the art of compromise. It’s a delicate process of balancing unbalanced material.
“Can mastering make vocals louder?” Yes, but depending on how the song has been mixed, it may bring up another element with them…
“Can you make my £20 microphone sound like a £2000 microphone?” Nope. But we can probably make your £20 mic sound like a £200 mic!
Got an album you recorded on a cassette 4-track 25 years ago, and want to dust it off and finally get it out there? We will make it sound way better, absolutely… but obviously it will never sound like it was recorded at Abbey Road. Embrace your lo-fi roots and enjoy the “best it can be” result.
Far too much sub, but a weak kick? We can sort it out. But necessarily as well as if you supplied the kick and sub as separate stems (or used our mix evaluation service to fix it yourself at home first).
The Bad Mix Challenge – Try Us!
We love a challenge, and can make drastic improvements to even the most appalling, lost-cause mixes.
The difference can be astounding. Try our free online mastering for your bad mix, and see how much better we can make it!
Or if you still have the project file, consider our mix evaluation service and fix the mix yourself at home.