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Automated Mastering Comparison: LANDR vs. eMastered


Mastering is the final step in making your song sound professional.

It increases the loudness, widens the sonic properties of the track, and highlights the beautiful sounds in your mix.

Basically, it’s a very important stage.

So can you trust automated mastering? Will it give you pro-level results?

In this post, I’m going to compare two of the biggest automated mastering platforms: LANDR and eMastered.

LANDR Overview

LANDR is short for “Left And Right,” as in the left and right aspects of a stereo sound.

I used LANDR to master music years ago, and I was happy with the results.

In hindsight, my mixing was meh, which of course, affected the final master. Mastering accentuates whatever’s in your mix. But it still did a decent job.

What do you get with LANDR?

The first feature you’ll see is called Style. It allows you to tell the algorithm to master your track in a certain style, and each of the styles has “its own character and feel.” They’re labeled warm, balanced, and open.

You can also choose the intensity of the master: low, medium, or high. You’ll notice these affect the loudness of your master, quieter to louder respectively.

Once you’ve decided on your mastering settings, you can save those preferences. This is super helpful if you’ll be mastering multiple songs on a project. You want them to sound cohesive, which is one role of mastering.

Before you master the track, you can use Volume Match, which allows you to switch between your mix and the mastered version. When choosing your mastering preferences, this feature helps you make sure you’ve set them right.

As for the cost of LANDR, plans start as low as about $7 a month (paid yearly) that include two masters a month. For unlimited masters, you’ll pay about $25 a month. You can also pay for one-off masters for $10.

On top of mastering, LANDR also offers distribution, plugins, samples, and a couple of tools for better collaboration.

eMastered Overview

eMastered was founded by Smith Carlson, a multi-platinum GRAMMY Award Winner (Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Beyonce, OneRepublic, Ariana Grande).

It, like LANDR, will get your mixes mastered and sounding professional. I used it on one of my albums and can attest to that.

The big difference with eMastered is that it offers more mastering options. The parameters include:

  • Compressor intensity
  • EQ intensity
  • Mastering strength
  • Stereo width
  • Overall volume
  • EQ settings

You can also use the Reference Mastering feature, which is exactly what it sounds like. You can upload a professionally mastered song from your favorite artist, eMastered will analyze it and then master your track similarly.

The most affordable plan is $13 a month, paid annually. You can also pay $49 on a monthly basis. However, there’s no option to pay for a one-off master like you can with LANDR.

In addition to mastering, eMastered offers ATOM Synth, a synth plugin with tons of sounds and an intuitive interface. You can even try it for free before you buy it.

Automated Mastering vs. Human Mastering

Automated mastering is an advance in technology that has changed the game for indie musicians.

If you can’t afford a mastering engineer, you can still master your tracks to professional quality.

And that’s fantastic news.

However…

Human mastering is always the better option.

If you want the best sounding track possible, hire a mastering engineer or do it yourself.

Why?

Because the human ear can pick up on things, an algorithm can’t.

And because every production is unique in its own way, slapping on some generic mastering parameters won’t always bring out the best in your track.

The quality of my tracks has drastically improved ever since I started working with a mastering engineer. He points out things in my mix I can fix before he masters it.

That way, I end up with the best possible master. And I’ve learned a ton about mixing.

When looking at automated mastering vs. a mastering engineer, go with the latter.

Your music will be better because of it.

– – –

Caleb J. Murphy is a songwriter and producer based in Austin, Tx. He created a free job board for musicians called Music Jobs HQ. Get access here.


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At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

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