A mix engineer or mix engineer is an individual who is responsible for combining (“mixing“) all the different audio elements of a recorded song (vocals, instruments, effects etc.) into a final mixed version of the song (“The final mix” or “The mix down“). Essentially each track on a console would carry a single sound, for example Kick on track 1. So after the mix engineer routes each sound out to an individual track ( This is sometimes referred to as spreading the session out) he can begin to blend each sound into one cohesive mix. If you notice on a console each track has its individual volume control. panning, Eq and compression. Most mix engineer begin with the drums, so lets use drums as an example. After “Spreading the session out” on the console you would have the kick drum on track1, snare drum on track 2, hi hat on track3, tom 1 on track 4, tom 2 on track 5, crash on track 6, and so on. Now assuming all of the volume faders are down then you should hear nothing. As the master begins to play the mix engineer will begin to raise the volume on each sound and blend them together so they have a pleasing combination of levels. Like we mentioned earlier each track has volume, panning, eq, compression, so the mix engineer can maybe pan the tom 1 sound on track 4 to the left and the tom 2 sound on track 5 to the right. So when the drummer plays a fill you would hear a left to right effect happen that simulates a drummers set up. This is where the possibilities become endless and the true craft of a mix engineer come in to play.
The best mixing engineers usually have many years of experience and training, which enables them to truly master their craft. A mix engineer in many respects is considered between artist and scientist, using their skills at evaluating harmonic structures of sounds to allow them the ability of crafting highly appealing blends of sound elements. Mix engineers are an essential part of almost all modern music, and in many cases truly save a production that otherwise would have gone by the wayside. Once a mix engineer is done with the mix it is handed over to the mastering engineer. The mastering engineer takes the mix and performs a final compression, equalization and loudness application to the mix.