The art of audio mixing is the process of taking multiple sounds and combining them into one or more audio channels. During the process of mixing, the sound is manipulated in multiple ways, including, but not limited to, volume, frequency content, dynamics, and even panoramic position. Audio mixing is now a staple for multiple industries, including film, television, live, and the music industry. It is so common that almost every home speaker has the ability to mix the audio to the listener’s preference, with the most common changes allowed being volume, treble, and bass levels.
Before multitrack recording was introduced into the music industry, all audio had to be mixed together during a live recording. If the recording was unsatisfactory, or one musician made a mistake, the entire recording had to be redone. The introduction of multitrack recording was a dramatic change for the industry and, although this added a greater expense to recording, remains the standard today, even for lower-end studios.
Audio mixing in live sound is the process of blending together multiple sound sources and is typically done through a mixing console. It is common to see audio technicians at live events continually tweaking audio levels in order to achieve the best sound quality. The mixing console allows individual sources to be equalised, as well as allow for adding pre-recorded audio, which is common in many types of pop music. Mixing is an important part of live-shows in the electronic music domain, as it is where post-processing effects are added to the sound. Many bands and live performers choose to take audio engineers on tour with them as they typically have the best experience in creating the sound that the artist desires to produce, although many music venues employ their own audio technicians.
Film and television make heavy use of audio mixing, although this is typically always done during post-production stages of development when all audio and film has generally been completed, similar to music. It is generally during mixing that errors are found and it is not uncommon for actors to have to reproduce lines that they had originally recorded months previously. There are many examples in the film industry where actors were unavailable to re-record their lines, with Hugo Weaving’s lines in Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring being one of the more notable examples. Live television also has audio mixing, although this can be trickier as the technician does not have as much time for error-correcting.