When it comes to how much time you should take to mix & master a song, there can be different answers from multiple artists.
As you gain experience and mix multiple tracks for yourself and your clients, you get a hold of identifying tracks and the treatment they need.
Furthermore, if you are an artist trying to identify the time it will take for an engineer to mix and master a song, there are multiple aspects you need to consider. Since mixing is a creative process, you must expect a different turnaround time from every mixing or mastering engineer.
In this article, let us tackle how much time it takes to mix and master a song. And also see the elements that come into play when a mixing engineer tackles audio tracks in a mix.
Now, without wasting any time, let us dive deep into this post.
How much time does a beginner take to mix a song?
It is common for a beginner mixing engineer to take more than two days to mix a song. The speed of mixing depends on factors such as experience, skills, identifying mix issues, and no audio stems an engineer needs to mix. However, if the project is complex or large, it can take upto a week to mix a song thoroughly.
Here are some of the mixing tasks with hours taken to complete.
- session preparation: 2-4 hours
- organising, grouping: 1-4 hours;
- basic mixing: 6-12 hours,
- advanced mixing: 6-10 hours,
- mix revisions: 4-8 hours.
When it comes to a beginner mixing a project, it can take a longer time to mix a song, depending on the skills of the mix engineer. In the beginning, stages, getting the basics right and taking as much time as possible to create multiple mix versions is vital. And also to see how different mixing styles produce different results.
Furthermore, a beginner mix engineer should follow pre-defined learning and practical time to learn and implement new mixing skills in projects. Here, you can spend time learning mixing skills, handling clients, and tackling challenging situations.
Not to forget, identifying plugins, mixing tools, and hardware units to mix & master a song takes some time away from artists. After getting these resources, learning and using them also requires some time away from project work.
When doing project work and the mixing artist is handling a live project, the following factors come into play.
- artist expectations,
- Number of audio tracks or stems,
- session grouping and organizing,
- Plugin selection,
- Mix workflow,
- identifying challenges,
- best sounding mix version,
- Revisions in a mix.
The bottomline is to take sufficient time to understand the mixing process and love the results you create.
How much time does a beginner take to master a song?
Most beginner audio engineers average 3-6 hours to master a song. New mastering engineers commonly experiment in the mastering process to reach the best possible polished product.
The time to create a final master of the song is significantly less than the time it takes to mix a song. Generally, it can take upto one or two days for a beginner to master a music mix. Since most of the heavy lifting is done in the mixing process, the mastering process looks at polishing the mix.
However, the time it takes to master a mix also depends on the quality of the mix. A good mix will have fewer issues, and the mastering engineer can quickly create an incredible master.
How long does a professional spend on mixing & mastering a song?
On average, it takes several hours to a few days for an audio professional to mix & master a song. Mixing usually takes long hours and more effort than mastering due to the complexity added by multiple audio tracks.
When mastering, an expert can provide the final master within a few hours if the mix is high quality and has no significant mixing issues.
For a professional, mixing takes about 3 to 5 hours, and mastering can take anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes.
Furthermore, mastering is more effortless than mixing music due to its simple nature. Mixing often involves multiple audio tracks that can range anywhere between 10 to 100. On the other hand, mastering involves adding polish and finishing touches to a single audio file.
Crucial tips for beginner mixing & mastering engineers
Here is some advice from an industry-leading mixing engineer for people beginning their hobby or career in this field.
1) Learn new Skills
The first step to becoming an expert in any field is learning new skills and teaching hot techniques.
The following few resources will help you learn and update your skills.
- Online courses,
- blog posts,
- youtube videos,
All these platforms allow an artist to get their basics right and begin developing advanced mixing and mastering skills.
Reddit offers you a way to learn from the mistakes of others, whereas youtube videos and online content will help you form the fundamentals.
2) Don’t forget to experiment
When learning new mixing techniques, it is common for mixing artists to get lost away in the ocean of knowledge.
Instead of overwhelming yourself with information, implement new techniques and skills in live projects. Also, maintain a balance between learning and implementing. Push your limits by mixing multiple projects at once.
This step is the one where you will level up your skills.
3) Focus on core mixing and mastering principles
When learning and implementing skills to a project, identify and try to separate glitter from gold. In other words, what are the core mixing and mastering principles that apply to every project.
Being self aware is the key to become great and mix audio tracks in less time. Implementing the basics fast and on time will give you enough room to make a mix proceed faster without losing work quality.
In this step, you will add refinement, polish and speed to your mixing skills.
4) Deliver your best every single time
Getting new projects after another is an exciting phase for a mixing artist. However, if you are not cautious, you can start to lose your mix quality.
Therefore, spend time with your mix and the final master. Listen to the song multiple times over two or more days. Take breaks away from the studio to refresh your ears. This way, you will ensure to keep the mix and yourself in high spirits.
In this step, you value your clients and make them bring new projects for you. Delivering high-quality projects can also boost your networking within the industry.
5) The 80/20 principle in mixing & mastering
The 80/20 principle applies quite fantastic in mixing. Let us look at what it offers in the land of mixing and mastering.
In mixing and mastering, the 80/20 principle says that 80% of the results in mixing come from 20% of the mixing efforts. The remaining 20% results are less significant and can be looked at after the core mixing.
Therefore, my aim when mixing music is always to focus on the critical aspects of a mix. And tackle non-important tasks after the mix has a direction.
Lastly, expect the unexpected when it comes to mixing and mastering music. We can only guess the time it will take for an engineer to mix and master a song. Since mixing and mastering is a creative process, even the best of us sometimes feel out of our zone and take longer than usual.