Although I can’t speak for every mixing and online mastering service, there are key differences in the workflows between these two disciplines, regardless what genre. Mixers receive many tracks so a large portion of their work is organizational. This includes labeling and color-coding tracks and placing them in a DAW. They also create instrument groups and submixes. Mixers can then move on to more creative tasks such as mixing, compression, transient shaping and effectuating. Although mastering engineers need to be organized as well, their focus is much narrower.
This is a typical mastering workflow:
Critical listening: What does the song need to do to reach its market and achieve its genre goals? What should I do to make it more popular? What should I do to order my signal path?
Are there any clicks, pops or distortions that I should remove with RX for forensic purposes? Do I have to make rough edits?
Levels: The final levels of a song are determined by its genre, character, release format and, of course, the song itself. (Never forget that the song is clear about what it wants to accomplish).
Sonics: Use broad EQ and compression for better tonal balance. A/B the master with a gain-matched version for quality control.
Flow and reference: Think about how individual songs in an album or EP work together or against each other. Are the song’s character and loudness consistent?
Part two of Forensic Fixes: Did any of my work produce artifacts Is it better to address them with RX (simple and occasional momentary distortions) than an entire remaster?
Export and metadata: Applying metadata and setting export settings based upon listening format.
Final QC: Pay attention to what you hear and ensure that they sound good.
The mastering stage is more subtle than the mixing stage in terms of creative changes. Most EQ adjustments are approximately 1 dB higher or lower. Compression is used for both effect and box tone. Access six additional industry-standard plug ins, production courses and custom presets as well as royalty-free sample packages.
What is the time it takes to master or mix music?
A full song mix can take anywhere between a day and a week depending on the quality of the production. Mixing engineers must create a routine that allows them to focus and prevents ear fatigue. You must also be disciplined in dealing with external problems, such as computer malfunctions or sinus infections. However, mastering takes less time. A half-day can be spent on a single album. Perspective is key to the quickness of time.
If you are attempting to master an entire album or EP, it is necessary to use a different method of mastering. This applies to your projects and any themes, concepts, or if one track leads into another. You may be able to use all the above if you have more than one track. Online mastering might not be the best choice for your EP. Online mastering may not be the best option for mastering an EP or album.