Beginner’s Guide to Audio Production: Audio Editing vs. Mixing

Are you a beginner in audio production and want to learn more about audio editing and audio mixing? As distinct types of audio production work, audio editing and audio mixing are two important terms for beginners who are starting out in audio production. There is dedicated audio editing software available both as commercial and open source releases. Sony Sound Forge is a good commercial software example, whereas Audacity is a representative open source release. Audio mixing software (Avid Pro Tools is the most widely used example) tends to be less dedicated and often includes editing features alongside its mixing capabilities.

So, here is a beginner’s guide to the must-learn audio production terms, including audio editing and audio mixing.

What is audio editing

Audio Editing for Beginners

Most commonly, audio editing is concerned with trimming the lengths of audio files, as well adjusting amplitude levels. Sometimes it includes the addition of audio effects processing. Audio editing might apply to audio content that does not need to be mixed or it might apply to mixed content that needs to be fit to some specification. For example, consider a 30” excerpt of a song that is placed on a webpage for informational purposes. Most likely a finished release copy of that song is sent to an audio editor who extracts the 30” of content, applies a fadeout and encodes the data to the playback format, such as .mp3.

Audio editing seldom involves a change in the number of channels and probably is less artistic and creative. Instead, edits should be clean and precise, and above all, should never call attention to themselves.

What is audio mixing

Audio Mixing for Beginners

On the other hand, audio mixing is a more comprehensive stage of audio production in which multiple tracks of audio content are combined to one or more channels of audio content. In professional audio production, the term track applies to an individual stream of information, such as an instrument or spoken voice.

In more complex audio mixes an individual stream, such as all of the sound effects for a film, might itself be divided into several tracks, in which case all of the tracks for a specific stream taken together form a stem.  In contrast, the term channel applies to some sort of a physical output, such as the left and right channels of stereo output. The role of audio mixing is to take all of the individual tracks or stems and combine them into a small number of output channels (one for mono, two for stereo, six for 5.1 surround, and so on).

This process of combining tracks will likely include other audio mixing actions such adjusting amplitude levels, assigning a perceived spatial location (such as left, center or right), equalizing the frequency components, as well any number of other audio effects that might enhance the clarity and unity of the end result. Audio mixing obviously has its scientific aspect, but is clearly an art and there are many studio engineers who devote their professional lives to the creation of the perfect audio mix.

Audio Editors vs. Mix Engineers for Beginners

In the professional world, audio editors and mix engineers are two distinct classes of professionals who typically work in separate environments and frequently are characterized as contrasting personality types. They are two teammates of an audio production team that work on music, film and audio for digital media. Are you asking yourself, “What is the difference between the audio editor and mix engineer?”

Beginner Audio Editors

This person is responsible for compiling, editing and synching music on a track or album. They help the film or digital media director create the right ambiance with music. They are responsible for performed music, sourced music, and the film’s score.

Beginner Mix Engineers

The mix engineer is responsible for combining different elements of sound to create a final track, whether for audio production, film or other digital media. The mix engineer assembles all the sounds together to create a multitrack recording. After receiving the music from the audio editor, the mix engineer manipulates the volume levels, enhances the character of each track, and adds effects like reverb. Once the mix is complete, the audio goes to be mastered.

Final Thoughts

Even if you are a beginner to audio production and not sure whether you want to be an audio editor or mix engineer, attending a creative arts college and completing an audio and music technology program will allow you to see both career paths and make the right decision for your future in audio production.

Ready to learn more about audio editing and audio mixing? University of Silicon Valley empowers aspiring audiophiles to master their craft. Our Audio and Music Technology Program students are exposed to new ideas and industry-grade equipment and are presented with challenges designed to unlock their creativity.

The Audio & Music Production concentration is designed to give you the audio training, production skills and music experience needed to make it in audio production. From signal flow and plug-ins to frequency analysis, you’ll learn the ins and outs of audio science, managing sessions and files as you work toward your audio & music production college degree. You’ll create sub-mixes, mix automation and eventually manage full-cycle studio production. Audio mastering classes will show you the final steps in preparing a recording for disk manufacture.

University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.

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