How to Master Vocals on Mixcraft
By Simon Foden
Updated September 22, 2017
Mixcraft is a digital audio workstation for PC. It lets you record, mix, edit and master your music using your computer. Mastering is a post-production audio process that optimizes the mixed audio, so it is as loud and as clear as possible. It incorporates a combination of frequency manipulation, called equalization, and dynamics manipulation, called compression. By mastering your mixes, you can make them sound polished, punchy and professional.
Double-click the Mixcraft desktop icon. Depending on how you have Mixcraft configured, it will open either a brand new session or the most recently saved session. To go from a blank session to a previous session, click “File” and select “Open Recent.” Select the song you want to master from the drop-down menu.
Click “File” and select “Export As.” Click “.Wav.” This renders the entire mix as a single, high-quality audio file. Mastering is a global process, applied to the entire mix. Therefore, you need a single file containing all of the audio. When prompted, name the file “Song Title Final Mix.”
Click “File” again and select “Open New.” This opens a blank session. Click “File” and select “New Audio.” This opens a blank audio channel.
Click “File” and select “Import Audio.” Select “Song Title Final Mix” from the browser. This imports the final mix file into the audio channel.
Click “Tools” and select “Equalization.” Equalization, or “eq” lets you boost and cut frequencies by band. Upon opening the equalization tool, a separate interface will appear on screen. Mixcraft has a 10-band graphic equalizer. For each band, there is a slider dial.
Click “Play” to hear the effects of the mastering process in real time.
Set each slider dial to the center. This creates a neutral starting point. Click “Bypass” to hear the sound with the equalizer on and off.
Adjust the sliders, starting with the one furthest left. The further left the slider, the lower the frequency range. There is no right or wrong way to equalize -- it all depends on your own preference and the nature of the recording. However, there are some universal techniques that improve your chances of getting a great sounding master mix. For example, if the mix sounds too boomy or muddy, reduce the bass frequencies. If it sounds too tinny, reduce the higher frequencies. Improve the clarity of vocals by increasing the 3KHz frequency range.
Click “Effects” and select “Compression.” With compression, you can tighten up the dynamic range of the audio by cutting volume peaks and boosting the base volume level. The compressor has a separate interface, featuring a sound wave graphic for use as a visual volume reference.
Adjust the “Threshold” dial so the threshold line moves to a point in the middle of the highest peak and the lowest peak. Anything over this volume threshold will be compressed.
Adjust the “Ratio” dial. This determines the amount by which signals exceeding the threshold are cut. For example, a ratio of 4:1 means a signal 1 db over the threshold is cut by four.
Set the “Output Gain” level. Now that you’ve removed the peaks, you can boost the base level.
When equalizing audio, tweak the slider dials to get a pleasing blend of frequencies, then rest your ears for an hour before listening back.
Vary the volume level at which you listen during the mastering process.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.