Right now I'm mixing a Graven EP. Bands always talk about mixing like it's some kind of mystical process and they spend weeks at it sometimes trying to get the "right mix". Since I was once mystified about the whole process, I thought I would sit down here and share a little bit about it with you.
Mixing is the process by which you take the tracks that have been recorded during the original session (a process known as "tracking") are mixed and produced so that they are all at the volume that they need to be at so they can go to be mastered (which is a process that I still don't entirely understand). It's basically the part of the recording process where you get to decide if you want the guitar to be louder or if you want reverb on that vocal track. It involves a whole bunch of little decisions to make minor tweaks to the sounds that you generated during tracking.
This means that I'm spending 4-5 evenings a week sitting down listening to the same song 10-20 times while trying to make sure that all the individual tracks work well as a group. I also have to make sure that the tracks aren't peaking out (where their output level is higher than the level of output that sound hardware can handle resulting in ugly distortion and the loss of some audio information) and add fades at appropriate times. This results in a lit of repetitive tasks and sitting around listening to stuff while going crazy. It can be a very lonely process.
As I'm writing this post, I'm waiting for my main mix to finish recording for the last song I'm working on tonight. This is my 4th pass at a main mix so I've listened to this song all the way through 4 times in a row now and it's started to drive me a little crazy. I like listening to music I'm recording but sometimes these things drive me a little crazy.