There are a small number of albums that are viewed by many in the music industry as being near perfect in their production quality. From performance to recording to mixing and mastering, such albums often become benchmarks of engineering and producing.
We’ve said before that one of the best things you can do to create better mixes is tune your ear to great music. Study what great records on your monitors and learn how your mixes compare.
Here are four albums that you can start with. They’re considered by many to be masterpieces of production.
Rumors - Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac called their 1977 album the “most important album we ever made.” Fans agreed, and the album sold over 45 million copies worldwide.
Lauded for its unique three-part vocal harmonies, likeable songs and crystal clear recordings, “Rumors” is viewed as one of the iconic, great albums of the 70’s.
Sea Change - Beck
As singer songwriter albums go, Beck’s 2002 album, “Sea Change” is one of the toppers. With its simple arrangements, acoustic textures and overwhelming meloncholy mood, it’s an excellent example of a mix that captures raw emotion and organic performance. The arrangements are both simple, clear and colorful. Most of the recording was done with a live band over three weeks. Rolling Stone gave it one of the three only 5-star ratings of the year. It’s easy to hear why.
(Self TItled) - Rage Against the Machine
When engineers and audiophiles want to demo a sound system, Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 self-titled debut album, is often the go to choice for the rock genre. It’s a staple on “top rock albums” lists thanks to its perfect blending of the essential raw elements: vocals, bass, guitar & drums (with a few special effects). It’s a reminder of how a few well-performed elements, recorded properly, is all you need.
Aja - Steely Dan
Many of Steely Dan’s albums are viewed as examples of masterful production, but their 1977 album “Aja” is one of their most beloved. Listening to how the drums, piano, bass and vocals blend is hearing some of the best recording and mixing of the 70’s.
If you want to create great records, you first have to know great records. These four albums have stood the test of time for their popularity and production value. By paying attention to their mixes you can learn a great deal about what makes a quality mix and master.
Make Pro Songs
Welcome to Sage Audio — where we’ve been providing top-tier studio mastering services and audio education for over two decades now. We understand the challenges of achieving that elusive "professional" sound and are committed to helping you attain it in your own mixes and masters.
That’s why we created the Sage Audio Membership™.
Just for signing up, you receive 10 free mastered songs per month with your own dedicated mastering engineer, unlimited mixing feedback, and access to Sage Audio University™ mixing and mastering courses - which include start-to-finish walkthrough sessions for various genres and 35 multitrack sessions for hands-on practice.
This platform is supported by our thriving community and tight-knit network of audio engineers. Every day, we see and hear great wins in the membership from both new and seasoned engineers, noticing a huge improvement in their mixes and masters after joining.
There are 6 unique value-points inside the Sage Audio membership, so let’s go over each one so you can decide if it’s the right fit for you.
1. 10 Free Mastered Songs Per Month
- Get 10 free mastered songs per month with your own dedicated professional mastering engineer so you can get all your mixes sounding like professional songs.
- All 10 free mastered songs per month will accumulate in your account and will not expire as for as long as you remain a member.
- You’ll get your own dedicated Sage Audio mastering engineer to discuss all your project needs 1:1 so they can create custom masters that are specific to you and sound exactly how you want.
- Unlimited revisions with your dedicated Sage Audio mastering engineer. As a standard of our service, we are not happy until you are happy with the sound of your masters.
- All masters are delivered as commercial, industry-standard high-resolution 24-bit HD WAV masters so they will sound clean and clear on every platform.
2. Unlimited Mixing Feedback
- Get unlimited mixing feedback from Sage Audio engineers and community members so you can quickly improve your mixes.
- This is highly valuable - giving you access to a thriving community of mixing engineers who can provide you with feedback about what you can improve first before sending your mix to be professionally mastered.
3. Sage Audio University™ (SAU) — (Mixing and Mastering Education Platform)
- SAU is a modern audio engineering education platform that includes in-depth mixing and mastering course curriculums that match the new music industry.
- SAU is designed for every experience level, ranging from first-time mixing engineers to advanced engineers. The techniques and concepts taught can be applied to any DAW to create industry-leading mixes without expensive software or plugins - and free plugin alternatives are suggested throughout every course curriculum.
- SAU course curriculums include Start-to-Finish session walkthrough lessons for multiple genres so you can follow along with your preferred genre.
- SAU Membership Degree Certification, which can be downloaded and showcased on your website, social channels, and portfolio for as long as you remain a member.
- Get first access to all future SAU course curriculums to continually build and refine your mixing and mastering skills as the industry evolves.
4. Sage Audio Community
- The Sage Audio community is a tight-knit community of passionate audio engineers that can provide you with real-world mixing feedback, discussions, mix competitions, networking, collaborations, and more.
5. 700+ In-depth Sage Audio Mixing and Mastering Videos
- Access 700+ in-depth Sage Audio mixing and mastering videos - curated and organized into playlists so you can take a deep-dive into all aspects of audio engineering with thousands of hours of concise, expertly crafted Sage Audio videos to continually improve your mixing and mastering skills at your own pace.
6. 70+ GB of Curated Sage Audio Downloadable Content, Including:
- 36 multitrack sessions spanning multiple genres for mixing practice.
- 57 un-mastered mixes spanning multiple genres for mastering practice.
- 62 Recommended Free Plugins List (vetted, tested, and approved, so you don’t have to).
- 39 Recommended Paid Plugins List (vetted, tested, and approved, so you don’t have to).
- 58 Sage Audio custom plugin presets to improve your mixes and masters.
- Sage Audio Membership Badge to showcase on your website, social channels, and portfolio.