Erik Hawkins

From Demo, to Mix, to Master

Erik Hawkins

I often find that inexperienced producers try to make their song sound as loud as possible before they’ve produced a solid mix. But in their defense, it’s difficult to imagine how your song will sound once its mixed and then mastered. So, the instinct is to try and make it sound like the finished product before it’s even mixed.

Just remember this, go for a good clean mix with nicely balanced frequencies and levels and trust that the loudness will come when it’s mastered. In fact, here’s a perfect example of how a song can evolve from the demo (the first 8 bars in the example below), to the final mix (the next 8 bars), and then the master (the last 8 bars). I signed this song, “Funky Jellybeans”, to my label (Synchronized Music) as a demo. Then I mixed it directly in Reason using the artist’s (Soniferous) original session file. After we were happy with the mix, I mastered it in Pro Tools using the Waves Mastering plug-ins. You can hear how the mix goes from loud but muddy, to quite but clear, and then loud and clear. In the SoundCloud thumbnail you can even see the song’s waveform evolve in the three versions (from top to bottom, demo, mix, and master).

 

Erik Hawkins
Erik Hawkins

Erik Hawkins is a composer, producer, remixer, and author whose talents and technical expertise have leaders in the music industry calling him a "taste maker." He has worked with and remixed a variety of top artists, including Scatman Crothers, Irene Cara, Digital Underground, Conscious Daughters, Strypper, Brenda Russell, and DJ Sasha. His own progressive dance music tracks have been used by major television networks and film studios, including ABC, CBS, FOX, MTV, Nickelodian, and New Line Cinema. His articles and columns have been published in Remix, Mix, Electronic Musician, MC2, Keyboard, and DigiZine. He has also written several books, including The Complete Guide to Remixing (Berklee Press), and Producing Drum Beats (Berklee Press). His Berklee Online course, Programming and Producing Drum Beats, won the UPCEA Best Online Course Award for 2011.

Winter NAMM 2015 in Los Angeles, CA.