LANDR: OUR TEST OF THE AI Mastering Engine
REACH OUT TO US
After eight years of research and development, music technology company LANDR has unveiled a new tool that is poised to reshape the way we think and go about completing recording projects: artificial intelligence mastering software. With the click of a mouse or the dragging of a file, LANDR takes a fully mixed .mp3 or .wav, analyzes the audio content of the file, applies a number of standard mastering processes to the file according to the analysis, and presents a newly mastered file within minutes.
LANDR is a musician’s or audio producer’s friend, another tool in the kit for engineers and creators alike. And while LANDR’s AI mastering engine is completely capable of mastering an entire album’s worth of songs far more quickly and more affordably than a professional human, the service is also super handy for DJs who create tracks on the go and need something industry standard quality for an event later that day or podcast editors swamped with work who need to turn out content quickly without compromising the quality.
What kind of musicians does this resource benefit?
With over 1,500 pages we thought it would be beneficial to zero in on how you can use this resource to your benefit and what to expect if you decide to become another “loyal follower” of the Indie Bible. While this information is beneficial to artists in all stages of their career you’ll find yourself needing much different advice once you have a following, vs a musician who just finished recording their first track.
Musicians just starting out have much different needs and resources at their disposal than artists that have already completed some successful tours and have perhaps some better name recognition, or have taken some music promotion efforts in the past.
In addition, your promotion efforts change somewhat drastically depending on what kind of genre you are currently focusing on, as well as where you are geographically. While resources like YouTube and Spotify aren’t as depending on geographic locations, you’ll be hard-pressed to really start a successful career if you are not coupling your digital promotion with old-fashioned in-person performances.
So how does the process work?
LANDR’s AI mastering engine works by taking advantage of machine learning to replicate the types of decisions mastering engineers would make when hearing a mix for the first time. When the file is put into the website’s mastering page the software “‘listens’ and reacts to music, using micro-genre detection to make subtle frame-by-frame adjustments using tools like multi-band compression, EQ, stereo enhancement, limiting and harmonic saturation, based on the unique properties of your song.” With the recent addition of new engine release Tonic, LANDR AI mastering are achieving even more impressive, subtle results.
For those willing to purchase the Advanced or Pro packages there are three “styles” of mastering intensities you can choose from: Lo, Hi, and Med. “Lo” is the most subtle intensity and preserves the dynamic range of the track, adds presence, and boosts the overall volume the least.
They suggest it works best for softer, acoustic music, orchestral music, or spoken word formats like audiobook or podcast. “Hi” does the opposite and greatly boosts overall loudness and power. It is better for EDM or Electronic music meant to be played at high decibel levels because this intensity basically eliminates dynamic range through compression. “Med” negotiates the limitations of the other two intensities and is a general safe bet for most music or audio formats.
In addition there are also three Mastering Styles: Warm, Balanced, and Open. “Warm” emulates older, but sought after, mastering techniques using “softer compression for thick, smooth sound”, while “Balanced” is designed to maintain “balance, clarity, and depth”. And finally, “Open” is the one to use if you’re using a more modern Top 40 mix, boosting the “punch and presence”.
These features allow you to have control and direct the way the software runs once you let it “listen” to your song and master it. One other cool feature is “reference mastering”, which allows you to upload up to 3 reference tracks by artists or podcasts you like. The software analyzes those mastering jobs and uses machine learning to apply those techniques to your tracks.
Track Mixed using Landr
How well did it do?
We put a mixed, but unmastered, song of mine through the free-trial version of the software. We didn’t choose the intensity or the style, but let LANDR do it’s thing. The song begins as an acoustic song and ends with full instrumentation, including drums, so we could hear how it treats both. In roughly three minutes LANDR was finished and able to give me a preview of the master, with a handy interface to A-B the before and after.
The most important function of mastering is to boost the volume of the track while maintaining the original fidelity of the recording. LANDR definitely does this very well. The song’s volume increased by at least 5 decibels and the song had gained a slight shimmer that left the original sounding a little flat and unfinished. The intensity was “Med” and the mastering style was “open” by default. Compared to the version of the song mastered by a human, the LANDR master was actually louder.
Either way, if the result is this clean and loud without the Advanced or Pro options, the full package must be that much more powerful.
You can listen to the pre and post mixed track to the left.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I need an account to try it out?
You do, but its an easy 1-time sign-up with name, email, and a password and you’re ready to try it out.
How long does it take to master a track?
It depends on length, but for a 4 minute song it took about three minutes.
Can you only upload one song at a time?
While you can do one song at a time, LANDR also can master up to 24 in a group.
What kind of file does LANDR output?
When you first sign up you can test 2 tracks and download them as 192kbps .mp3s for free. Hi quality 320kbps .mp3s are $4.99 and the uncompressed .wav is $9.99.
How much does it cost for the premium packages?
- For Basic: $6/mo. $48/yr. – Unlimited Lo mp3s, reference mastering only.
- For Advanced: $14/mo. $108/yr. – Unlimited on all mp3s. All features available.
- For Pro: $39/mo. $299/yr. – Every file and quality type unlimited. All features available.