The recording process is traditionally divided into three stages:
1. PREPRODUCTION: this includes writing the song, being able to perform it properly, choosing how and with whom to record it
2. PRODUCTION: this involves actually recording the song. You may record it one instrument at a time or with a group playing simultaneously. Each instrument will be on its own "track" so they can be individually adjusted.
3. POSTPRODUCTION: this involves editing, adding effects, mixing, and mastering
What is MIXING?: The blending and balancing of the tracks together. This will involve adjusting each individual track to help it to fit into the whole.
What is MASTERING?: after the individual tracks are mixed, the mix as a whole can benefit from certain adjustments (for example - adjusting overall volume, compression, noise reduction, stereo width)
While you may get the best results from using one mix engineer and a separate mastering engineer for their recordings, to save time and money people often have the person doing the mixing also do the mastering. Another alternative is to use new software(such as landr) that will “master” the song for you.
This can all be done on your own laptop with a microphone or an interface or it can be done at a studio.