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Demystifying Music Production: A Simple Guide to Key Terminology
Dive into music production basics. Understand key terms like mixing, mastering, and EQ. Perfect for beginners eager to decode the jargon and refine their skills.

Understanding Basic Terms in Music Production

You're probably familiar with expressions like "mixing", "mastering", "compression", and "EQ" but do you really understand what they mean? They often confuse even experienced musicians. Let's start by learning some basics of music production that every music producer should know.

In this blog, we'll define and explain these terms in a simple language to help you comprehend the concept behind each term and make your path in music production smoother.

The Concept of Mixing

Mixing is the procedure of combining multiple sounds into one. It's like baking a cake where you add all the ingredients in the right quantity and mix them together to create a balanced mixture.

The goal of mixing is to bring balance, harmony, and emphasize the emotion of the song. Further, it manipulates sounds to adapt them in a way that they all fit together within a soundscape.

Understanding Mastering

Mastering is the next stage after mixing. It is the final polish given to a song before it gets published. It ensures your tracks sound as best as they can on all platforms from Spotify to vinyls.

It's about optimizing the overall sound, volume levels and ensuring no track stands out in the album. Think of it as putting the cherry on the cake or framing your painting; it adds the last touch to your work.

What to Know About EQ

EQ stands for 'Equalization' in music and it is the process of balancing the frequency content of an audio signal. It's again like cooking where you add salt to balance the taste; in music, EQ is your 'sonic salt'.

EQ is all about balance. It manipulates frequencies to achieve a balanced sound that is pleasing to the ears. Understanding how to use it can lift your mixes from good to great.

The Importance of Compression

Compression, in sound engineering, decreases the dynamic range of an audio signal. It essentially lessens the gap between the loudest and the softest part of a track.

Understanding compression can be a bit difficult but it becomes fairly simple when you start using it. Using compression properly is crucial because an over-compressed music can sound lifeless, while under-compressed music can lack polish and professionalism.

The Meaning of Reverb

Reverb stands for reverberation. It refers to the reflection of sound that arrives at the listener’s ears so quickly that it’s hard to perceive them as individual echoes. It’s what you hear when you sing in the shower or yell in a canyon.

Reverb gives life to the music and gives the sense of space to the listener. By managing reverb, you can make a sound seem closer or more distant, thereby creating an illusion of space in your mixes.

Getting Acquainted with Delay

Delay is essentially "echo" in a musical context. It records an input signal and then plays it back after a certain period of time. It is used to naturally thicken up sounds or to create interest and depth in a mix. 

Delay is a creative effect which can add a sense of depth and space to your audio tracks. It can be used subtly to enhance a mix or drastically as an effect and can really help to improve your production skills.

About the Concept of Panning

Panning in music refers to the distribution of sound signal into a stereo or multi-channel sound field. Panning can create a wider and more engaging stereo image and give each instrument its own space in the mix.

To put it plainly, panning decides whether a particular sound comes from the left, right, or center when a song is played. Therefore, it's an essential trick to organize instruments in the stereo field so that all can be heard clearly.

Defining Pitch and Key 

Pitch refers to a tone's perceived frequency level. It relates to the frequency of a sound that is measured in Hertz. The key, on the other hand, is a group of pitches that form a scale and are centered around a home pitch, known as the tonal center.

Pitch and key are crucial for tuning and harmony. They form the foundation of your song and define the mood and emotion you want to convey through your music.

What you should do now
Store your music with cloud storage for music creators,, and spend more time making music than moving music.

If you’re already with us, here are more production tutorials to give you the edge:
What is Crate?
Crate is the easiest way to store, organize, and share unreleased music. With Crate, your unreleased music syncs across your devices. Available for iOS and desktop.
Rylan Talerico
October 24, 2023
Before founding Crate, Rylan Talerico was signed to Warner Records as a recording artist, producer, and songwriter. These days, Rylan enjoys spending time with his family and working on Crate building tools to empower musicians to be more creative and connected.
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