I recently had the opportunity to test out and compare the new LANDR online mastering service, which instantly creates a master of your latest mix. After you submit your mix on their main page in a matter of minutes you get a master of your song! LANDR has developed an intelligent automated engine capable of this. In their own words, “LANDR is a tool designed by sound engineers so, although it employs artificial intelligence, it is guided by profoundly human thought.” The service is very endearing to me, since I’m constantly making demos and have a need to speed up the process of finishing tracks. But I also wanted to make sure the service compares to that of a real time and experienced mastering engineer, so I did an A/B with my recent work done at Joe Lambert Mastering.
The cost of LANDR is free for a low-resolution file. However a WAV file only costs a minimal fee of about $6. They also offer monthly membership plans for a number of songs/month. So I thought it was a no brainer to give this a shot.
I uploaded one my new releases, Jump Through Fire, on to LANDR’s landing page. I had previously mastered this track with Lambert, who is an established and well-respected Mastering Engineer in NYC and New Jersey. He delivered the good stuff with full attention to detail and a high level of musicianship. I am firm believer that no computer technology has the complex level of emotion that a human does, so perhaps I was a little biased going into the testing stage. But I’ll try my best to keep this comparison fair, without using words like “better”. What does “better” mean anyway? We’re talking about subjective things here, art. However I will say that when I mixed Jump Through Fire I was very attentive to balance, arrangement, contrast of parts and sounds and I didn’t expect anyone, including my mastering engineer, to “fix” or solve any problems with the mix. I compared the un-mastered mix to numerous commercial tracks to ensure it sounded professional before it got to the mastering stage. And I think this is key to anyone working on a mix. The mix happens first. And before you mix you should make sure your song and arrangement are killing it!
Anyway, Joe Lambert did his thing like any skilled artist would. He boosted bass frequencies with confidence; it increased the size of the mix without making it muddy. He adjusted width on the vocals, took them to center gave them more focus. He played with the fader and made sure that the chorus of the song made an impact and sounded bigger than the verses. And of course, there were things he did which I’m probably unaware of, his chef secrets I guess. Finally, Joe gave me some feedback as he worked on the rest of the album. This to me an artist who wants to learn as much as possible is invaluable.
As far as LANDR’s master goes, the file they e-mailed back sounded very good. And it literally took 5 minutes. And even though nothing was altered in a way that would affect my mix, I liked the result. The track was pretty loud and didn’t sound squashed. Bass sounded good, but not as powerful as Lambert’s work. Overall the level of the track wasn’t as loud as Lambert’s. And I do wish they had some kind of additional service where they would offer feedback. Independent artists like myself are dying to exchange a few words with an experienced industry professional and have the opportunity to improve any areas that need work.
I probably would use LANDR at some point in the future. For $6 it’s a no-brainer. If you simply need a demo or track polished quickly then why not. But if I have the money then I’ll certainly go to an engineer and enjoy that whole experience and outcome. Before I end this post, I want to repeat the following: never expect a mastering engineer to solve mix problems. And if you need help mixing, then talk to me and I can help with you that J Thanks for reading and check out Jump Through Fire in the link below:
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