How Albums are Produced (Oversimplified Explanation)

There are three major parts. Recording, mixing then mastering.

In recording, which is also called “tracking”, sounds are captured so that they can be manipulated. Performances are captured by microphones, instrument cables, or MIDI. Those recorded sounds become tracks - layers of tracks - one track for bass guitar, several tracks for vocals because it has backup vocals, shitload of tracks for drums and so on. Band members can be recorded while playing simultaneously like they do during gigs, but people prefer them to be recorded individually in order to have more control over details.

Ideally, no sessions end without retaking errors. If some flaws still manage to escape the producer’s ears, they are dealt with in the editing phase. After recording and editing, comes the mixing.

Mixing is the process of making the instruments sound good together. For music fans to fully enjoy songs, first, the audio must not hurt ears, and then each element should be heard clearly. Through volume, panning, equalizer, compressor adjustments, and some more, mixing can achieve just that.

Now that the tracks are mixed into a finished song, it's time to master the songs into a finished album.

Mastering is the process of making songs sound consistent throughout the album and not too weird compared to the rest of the world’s recorded music. Unless it is supposed to be weird. It is also in mastering that boring office stuff are executed - tags, proper labeling, and rendering takes place. Basically, mastering is the final stage in which an album is prepped for the world.

A full length album that consists of ten to twenty songs will take months, even years, to finish.

If you learned something new in this essay, stay tuned to Hapijoey! I love oversimplifying stuff!

-Luis Azcona