What is Audio Mixing? – An Overview

Audio mixing is the process of combining recorded tracks into a final mono, stereo or surround sound product. In this process, separate tracks are blended using various processes such as Equalization (EQ), Compression and Reverb.

The audio mixing process largely depends on music genres and the quality of sound recordings involved. After all the different tracks of a song/ music have been recorded, a mixing engineer steps into the process to work their magic. They start with labelling and organizing the audio tracks into similar groups. Usually, the audio file is normalized to ensure that all the tracks are at similar volume levels and that no tracks peak. In the next step, the engineer will then EQ each individual track to get the best tones out of the instruments used and also use the high-low pass filters to eliminate any unwanted frequencies. The main agenda of EQing is to make adjustments that enable all the tracks to inhabit their own frequency areas. This then allows the audio to be clearly audible and each instrument distinguishable.
Audio mixing may be performed on a mixing console or Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

Choosing your Mixing Software

There are tons of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) to choose from. Which DAW is the best is up to you. But to begin with, you can consider a few best DAW’s to start mixing with:

• Adobe Audition
• Cakewalk SONAR
• Pro Tools
• Cubase
• Logic
• Studio One 3

Stereo vs. Surround Sound

When it comes to audio, our first choice has been stereo for decades now. Most of the TV systems were designed with built-in stereo speakers and that is how most of us are accustomed to hearing sounds. Similar is in case of music, it is recorded and optimized in a way so that it can be heard in stereo. Nowadays though, most of the modern movies and TV shows have added the capability of being heard in surround sound, allowing the viewers to acquire a complete 360-degree surround sound experience while relaxing within the comfort zone of their homes.

2.0 and 2.1 Channel Stereo Systems

A basic stereo system (2.0) consists of two channels of sound – left and right – produced by a single pair of stereo speakers. Whereas, 2.1 channel system is achieved when you incorporate an additional subwoofer along with a regular pair of stereo speakers. The benefit of choosing a 2.0 or 2.1 audio channel system is affordable simplicity. You can simply sit back and enjoy excellent sound quality for movies, TV, music without worrying about the clutter of extra speakers and wires. But, if you are looking for a truer sound experience then a surround sound system may be a better choice, as it spreads the audio evenly around the room.

Channel Home Theatre Systems

Home theatre receivers are different from stereo by having additional amplifier channels to support movie theatre sound (5.0, Dolby Digital 5.1). Instead of just having a left and right channel of audio, you now have six – five separate speakers and one subwoofer. Similar to a two-channel system the left and right channels control most of the onscreen audio. The center channel controls dialogues and vocals and left and right surround/ rear channels manage surround sound and special effects. Altogether, these channels produce a ‘soundfield’ that encircle the listener with sounds coming from the front and behind.

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