Around 12,000 new songs are uploaded to music streaming services every 24 hours. To stand out in such a competitive industry, you simply have to be the best. Learning how to mix and master songs is an essential tool to create music that can grab attention and sound the best on all speakers, devices, and media formats.
The internet offers a wide array of mixing and mastering courses, each taught by different instructors and priced differently. Choosing which course to enroll in can seem daunting because you’ll be investing time, effort, and money in it.
For that reason, this article aims to provide you with guidelines for what constitutes an educational course. Also, you’ll find our recommendations for some of the best mixing and mastering courses available.
What Are Mixing and Mastering?
Besides mixing and mastering engineers, many people tend to either confuse the mixing and mastering processes, or consider them one and the same.
So, let’s look at the differences between mixing and mastering, and why they’re important in music production.
What Is Mixing?
The purpose of mixing tracks should be to take raw audio tracks, use different processes to highlight the best of these tracks, and produce a harmonious piece of music.
In mixing, you start out by putting the tracks in order. Then, you should set the initial values. This is where you adjust the buffer settings, time the fade-ins and outs, and gain-align all files.
After these initial steps, you balance out the tracks’ volume, fine-tune the compression and signal conditioning, and adjust the frequencies. You end the mixing process by recreating a live sound and adding effects.
What Is Mastering?
The final step in music production, mastering aims to make the song louder, better, and translatable outside of the studio. A well-mastered music will have applied the same mixing techniques to the entire track, making it sound fuller and more powerful across any speaker.
Mastering starts by fixing the mixed tracks. Removing any excess noise or distortion allows you to build on the tracks without facing any future, unfixable issues.
Then, it’s time to enhance the track by adjusting the EQ or enhancing the bass. This step is quite subjective, so the kind of processes depends on what you think can elevate the track. This step is followed by compression. Compressing the track will make it sound louder and livelier.
If you like your track especially loud, then the next step is to soft-clip the track. This is followed by limiting it, which brings us to the final step. Limiting acts like the glue that makes your multiple tracks sound like one.
What to Look for a Mixing and Mastering Course
Every mixing and mastering course offers different features, so your choice depends on what you’re exactly looking to gain from the course.
Having competent instructors in a mixing and mastering course is crucial. Try to work with instructors who have experiences in the professional mixing and mastering world. This way, you can learn from the perspective of someone who’s faced countless trial and error processes.
Through a knowledgeable and experienced instructor, you can learn how to:
- Approach mixing and mastering efficiently.
- Explore different creative processes and fuel your own creative prowess.
- Understand and implement the different mixing and mastering techniques like a professional.
- Gain insight into the production processes in the music industry.
For most students, instructors are what make or break a course. Productive instructors should offer you their vast knowledge in digestible, solid information, rather than overloading you with unnecessary details.
Whether you’re brand new to the field of mixing and mastering or a seasoned pro, you can discover a course that’s right for you.
There are beginner courses that cover the basics of mixing and mastering. These aim to build a solid foundation of mixing and mastering skills, so you can build upon them as you progress.
Then, in an intermediate course, you’ll usually build upon your solid foundation. You can achieve this by exploring different mixing and mastering techniques, such as reverb, EQ, and vocal production.
Now that you’ve learned the basics and techniques, the next step is to effectively apply this knowledge to tracks. In an advanced course, you’ll be taught how to achieve the loudness, clarity, and punch that a good song needs.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to examine how different tools are used in different genres, as well as how these same tools can influence a song’s commerciality.
Of course, there are all-level courses. These courses are designed to provide you with a general yet extensive range of skill sets from both levels.
Mixing and mastering courses’ duration can range from as little as four days to over a month.
Choosing a short-term or a long-term course may depend on how much time you have to invest. If you’re in a hurry to learn as much as possible in a short amount of time, you can find courses that can accommodate that.
If you have time at hand to spend on careful and extended material, then a long-term course might be a good choice.
Regardless, many online mixing and mastering courses have flexible deadlines, allowing you to learn at your own pace.
Most mixing and mastering courses will provide a curriculum objective, giving you a brief idea of what to expect from the course.
Looking at the objectives can help you determine whether the course is good for you or not. Here are some of the objectives that most mixing and mastering courses fulfil:
- Learning professional mixing and mastering techniques that can be used in various genres.
- Elevating a decent track to an exceptional one.
- Knowing how to approach tracks creatively.
- Developing a sound that’s unique to you.
Mixing and Mastering courses can be quite expensive. Prices can range from $100 to thousands of dollars.
Luckily, these courses are available on platforms like Coursera and Udemy, which sometimes offer good deals on their courses.
Why Enroll in a Mixing and Mastering Course?
The end goal to learn any step in music production is to produce a song that stands out and sounds great wherever it’s played. When you take a mixing and mastering class, you’ll learn how to dissect a song and enhance each element to create the best of the best.
Knowing how to navigate music production can make every step you take when creating a song better than the one before it.
This knowledge isn’t just exclusive to mixing and mastering engineers. Artists with basic understanding of these processes can have better awareness of what they want their music to sound like.
The 5 Best Mixing and Mastering Courses
With many mixing and mastering courses available to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which is the best for you. For that reason, we’ve put together a list of the top five mixing and mastering courses.
- Mixing and Mastering in Logic Pro X – Music Production Guide
With over 5,000 students and a rating of 4.5, the Mixing and Mastering in Logic Pro X course is offered by music production instructor Tomas George and pro-audio engineer Ian Alexander.
Available at around $100, the Mixing and Mastering in Logic Pro X course doesn’t just cover the basics, but it also develops your understanding of the processes and techniques that professionals use today.
Even though the course’s materials are a total of about eight hours, you can have full-time access to them once you’ve paid for the course.
Scott, one of the trainees, said, “I had a beginners level of experience mixing and no experience mastering. I’m finishing this course confident that I can make myself sound professional, presentable and decent.”
In this course, we have the electronic music producer Deadmau5 offering his vast and creative knowledge in a 101 course on electronic music production.
Available at around $90 per lesson, the Deadmau5 Electronic Music Production course takes us step by step through topics, such as melodies, sound design, mixing, and mastering.
Although this course is pretty expensive, it’s available on Masterclass which offers a one-year, unlimited access to all their classes.
According to a reddit user, the Deadmau5 course can be most suitable to anyone looking to start producing music seriously.
Available on Coursera, the Music Production Capstone is the fourth course in the Music Production Specialization.
In this course, you’ll be able to implement the knowledge you’ve accumulated to produce music. After you’re done with Music Production Capstone, you should be able to plan, record, edit, mix, and master an entire song. An advantage of this course is that you can receive feedback from your peers.
Although this course is part of a specialization, you can navigate it if you’ve got the basic understanding of mixing and mastering. Moreover, you can enroll for free and pay for the certificate whenever you want to.
EP said, “Very cool, helped me so much to understand my sonic signature and not be scared of the DAW.”
Offered by Udemy, the Mixing and Mastering Like a Pro course is an intermediate course that covers a wide array of topics.
Available at around $90, the Mixing and Mastering Like a Pro course aims to bring out creative processes and provide an understanding of what professional mixing and mastering is like.
While the course covers more topics than just mixing and mastering, it ensures that the knowledge you gain can be implemented effectively in a studio.
Chris Stansberry said, “Wide range of music. Lots of info. Covered a lot of bases. Excellent.”
The Complete Mixing and Mastering Bundle consists of six courses offered by Next Level Sound. Created by a multi-platinum award-winning producer, this is an online training center for music production.
For the full bundle, there’s a one-time payment offer for about $1,970. There’s also the option to pay about $197 per month for 12 months. The Complete Mixing and Mastering Bundle provides a detailed curriculum of mixing and mastering fundamentals and advanced levels.
Because the bundle includes beginner courses, someone with basic mixing and mastering courses might want to take the more advanced courses. Fortunately, each course is available for purchase separately.
Tom Hades said, “After lesson 1, I realised I was making the same “mistakes” everyone does…It gave me a workflow which I can stick to.”
The music industry is overflowing with new songs everyday. However, the songs that stand out aren’t just good vocals and instrumentation. The mixing and mastering processes play a huge role in creating an amazing song.
Enrolling in a mixing and mastering course can teach you how to elevate music from good to exceptional. When you have instructors that can teach you the intricacies of mixing and mastering, you’ll be influenced to dive deep into your own creativity.
Mixing and mastering courses offer a wide variety of levels. As you look for one, you must consider your mixing and mastering knowledge in order to ensure that you efficiently progress through the course.
Another factor to consider is the duration of the course. Ultimately, you should look for a course that can fit in your schedule. There are many top-notch short-term and long-term courses, which gives you the chance to learn at your own pace.
As you choose which mixing and mastering course to take, a curriculum objective can show you the direction you can expect from it. This’ll help you determine whether the course will be able to offer you new knowledge and skills or not.
Lastly, you should take into account the course’s price. Mixing and mastering courses aren’t cheap, so you should compare what a course offers to its price. This should help you determine if the course is good value for money.The top-rated mixing and mastering course is the Mixing and Mastering in Logic Pro X course. It covers the basics as well as professional utilization of the techniques that can create clear, better sounding tracks. Since it’s available on Udemy, you’ll be able to find it on discount, which makes it good value for money.