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Has anyone heard of this LANDR Mastering?

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Sean G, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I came across this LANDR mastering on Soundcloud the other day, So the curious side of my brain went "hmmmm...what this 'ere, then, eh?" and I had to take a look further.

    If you join LANDR via Soundcloud they offer a "mastering " service for your mixes.

    This ought to be good I thought :rolleyes:

    One thing that was written in the fineprint of their terms of use was that you give them access to your music tracks on Soundcloud but you keep the copyright.
    Sounded a littly iffy to me...but I had to find out how good this so-called "mastering" would be so I created an account.

    (After all, who actually owns your music once its out there on the cloud?...but thats' for another topic for another thread on another day).

    The offer to hook you in is one free WAV master initially for SC users from the overly generous people at LANDR, then its basically a subscription service at $9.99 a pop.
    No free WAV offer for those that create an account without going through SC...they can't have access and rights to your music without going through Soundcloud now, can they?

    So by giving away access and rights to your music you get a free WAV master......Hmmmmmm.

    Oh, but wait, they do offer you 2 free low grade Mp3's (yes, thats how they describe them on their site ) if you don't upgrade to the subscription and only use the free service...awfully nice of the kind people at LANDR ;)

    So what I can gather from uploading a track to their "mastering" service is that they are basically using an algorhythm to do this so called "master"...with three levels of "intensity" ranging from low/medium/high. (Intensity...thats' a new one...how come that expensive mastering plug-in suite I bought doesn't have an "intensity" button?....)

    From the comparison I did by A/B 'ing the same track that was "mastered" by them to the same track prior to their mastering and matching volume levels, I could not hear any discernable difference in audio quality. Not to my ears anyway.

    So my thoughts and the conclusion I came to is that this algorhythm they use for their "mastering" service is really only boosting the volume level of the track and nothing else. An algorhythmic limiting service is what they should call it, or maybe "Intensity" by LANDR...but not mastering. Thats' a misnomer.

    I'm sure all those teen wanna-be Britanys, Christinas, Kanyes & Adeles who are using SC to promote themselves on their quest for discovery will no doubt be handing over their hard-earned pocket money to use this so-called "mastering" service in the belief that they are having their music "mastered" :ROFLMAO:

    I dunno, call me old fashioned, but I would prefer to pay for my music to be actually mastered by a professional set of ears on the side of the head of someone actual mastering experience and who actually knows what they are doing, making the subtle changes that are uniquely needed to improve, enhance and finish my track, as opposed to a cookie-cutter style approach by some one-size-fits-all algorhythm that has been coded by some 2nd-year programmer in some dorm room on campus who thinks he's the next Mark Zukerberg.

    My apologies if I went a little Gonzo...but seriously???

    Cynicism is something I subscribe to more and more the older I get.
    kmetal likes this.
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Lol, the algorithm might be named the waves L2. Man, I feel bad for real mastering engineers, they're just bombarded with competition from this sort of thing. It really gives mastering a bad name.

    How do you master one song anyway, isn't a huge part of mastering, lending consistency across multiple songs for release as a set, album or ep? I mean I understand mastering a single, and sweetening a two track mix, and mastering specifically for iTunes, SC, whatever.

    I've been waiting for the opportunity to try one of these mix/mastering services, particularly the ones that advertise in the trade mags. Specifically to see where I stand, should I want to advertise similar services in the mags.

    The thing is, as a bottom feeder, you really only have to out do the lowest rung. Which happens to have the highest population, and be the most willing to drop a small amount of money. So business wise, it makes total sense. Artistically, is gross.

    We all know louder is better, so it's very easy to fool the un knowing.

    I think I might just send an inquiring email (obviously going to maintain my manners) to them (landr) as a potential customer, to see what they're typical services entail.

    Interesting post Sean.
  3. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    My question would be how can you take the same approach to mastering with every track? IMO you can't.

    I'd like to hear the views of any of our resident M.E's opinion on this approach if they would be kind enough to share their thoughts.

    Sure, one would believe there would be a similar approach in the order of proceedings and steps undertaken during the mastering process from one song to the next, but as each track is unique in its own way, would the approach not need to be tailored to what is required for each individual track in its own way too?

    I mean, lets face it, you are not going to use X amount of EQ at Y frequency for every track, or X amount of compression or limiting...you would use what you would think is required for that unique track at that time IMHO.

    For $9.99 USD send me your tracks and I'll slap a limiter on it for you

    Hurry, numbers are limited (pardon the pun);)
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I think you've described their approach to every track. Lmao
    Sean G likes this.
  5. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    I see extreme snobbery with lack of knowledge about this guys ;). In actuality it has quite a bit going on and the ability to choose level of 'mastering'. Cakewalk has a plug in for Landr they recently added on one of their updates.

    When Cakewalk was adding it they did a blind test of a new song done by a professional. I think 5 or 6 separate masters in total. One done by mixing some mastered by top mastering engineer and of course Landr.

    Everyone including Craig Anderton was involved in the test and at the end the results of what people picked was revealed. While it's certainly sad that more and more of human value is challenged, the reality is that to some extent this particular intelligent service does actually work, and is not just a louder boost :).

    Because I have a Pro Soundcloud account I gave it a spin. I get 2 free highest quality masters off Landr. While my mixes may not be as good as a lot of you. I think it's fair to say my Landr master of The Minstrel and Marie sounds a lot better than the pre-master I left up there to compare to. This was done at Medium setting.

    One final thought. It's not meant to totally replace a mastering engineer, however it does give a valid resource for a number of uses.

    Cheers Tony
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    lol I'm okay with being an audio snob. I have expensive taste in just about everything, which is why I diy so often, to make things attainable. But I get what your saying. And agree.

    In all fairness, if your paid to be a reveiwer, there's some conflict of interest. Even if this wasn't a paid gig, he has a reputation to uphold. I've not read Craig Anderton say anything bad about anything he writes about. He's the kinda guy who describes mid level interface preamps as 'wonderfully open'. Maybe he means I wonder why these things don't sound more open? Lol snobbish comment? Maybe, but I take a professional gear reviewers word lightly. His credit list is short, obscure, and mostly projects he performed on.

    Any ideas on exactly what's going on? My guess is loudness, stereo field enhancement, and eq "match" function. Basically radio style processing.

    There's no reason to think my mixes are any good unless you've heard em. Unfortunately, I belive my knowledge outweighs my ability with reguard to mixing.

    The real comparison tony, is not whether the master sounds better than the pre master, but whether an hour of a true ME time, would blow it away or not. Mastering is like 100-150 a song (one song per hour), even at the top. I think Greg calibi, or Ted Jensen at sterling sound, or bob Ludwig at gateway, might do a much better job. Albeit 10x-15x the cost of 9.99, which around here south of Boston, gets you a quarter pounder w cheese value meal at sickdonald's.

    Then the question becomes, can you yourself, or another engineer, do a better job than landr? Could they do it with basic plugins? Something like ozone? Premium plug-insfrom UAD, waves, fabfilter?

    I might just have to give this a try myself. I wonder if they can use the file I uploaded already to SC, since I don't have the original wav file I uploaded originally, handy right now.
  7. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    So having an opinion about preferring to use a real mastering engineer over a computer generated algorhythm created by another coder who will probably reap squillions out of the music industry makes me a snob does it Tony?

    Lets face it, Landr ain't employing team of crack mastering engineers just sitting around waiting for tracks to come into their inboxes, are they?

    IMO its another case of the silicon valley set monetising just about everything they can think of.

    But hey, thats just my opinion. Opinions are like assh@les...everyone has one. ;)
  8. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Perhaps I should have used a winky face at the beginning :). The rest of my post is correct.
  9. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Mate, if it works for you, and you are happy with the result, then so be it.
  10. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    @kmetal Kyle, you missed where I said the song was mastered also by a proper mastering engineer and blind tests done. I simply used Craig's name because that's the only name I recognized. Others involved with more than enough experience I'm sure, were similarly impressed.

    Whether I would use it going forward or not isn't the point. I was just pointing out lack of knowledge of it and an instant jump to supposition as to what it's doing or can do.

    Honestly not trying to be an arse, just playing devils advocate.

    kmetal likes this.
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Fair enough sir. Would it be possible for you to post or link to any a/b's even the one that's your mix. I am not looking to pick apart anyone's work or anything, in fact I don't even have to comment on it, just for my own observation here at couch potato studio.

    Frankly, I'm always curious about hearing other people's work, it helps me evaluate my own "level" and particualry gives me an idea of what kind of price structures are out there.

    I don't disagree with you about jumping to conclusions, I am undouabtly overtly critical, and I'm a little bit of a "hater" on certain things. but my mind is open always, and I'd rather be wrong, and learn what's right, than think what know is right, when it isn't.
    Makzimia likes this.
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Just for a lark, back when I was producing the LOVE album for Terry Fairfax, we tried a cheap online "mastering" service, just for fun. We sent the guy 3 songs; I think the price was something in the neighborhood of $8 per song... and I can tell you from personal experience that we got exactly what we paid for. Was it louder? Yeah. But that's not mastering... tonally and dynamically speaking, none of the songs we got back were of any quality that we were comfortable with using for a commercial release..

    In the end, we went with Thomas Bethel ( @Thomas W. Bethel ), a member here at RO, and a regional M.E. here in Ohio, whom I had used for several other projects over the last 15 years or so.
    We weren't disappointed. Quite to the contrary... Thom's mastering skills ( along with his ears and his knowledge of his very nice gear) provided a great-sounding master... respecting the dynamic range that we'd worked so hard to achieve in the mixes... the mastered mixes were open, with a beautiful space, with smooth, warm and silky sonics; yet with a nice clarity and definition; it was a final polished sound that we'd hoped to achieve, with a continuity between songs that gave the album a nice, fluid feel.

    But, we didn't pay him 10 bucks a song to achieve all of that.

    Until you've used an actual bonafide mastering service, I think it's difficult to make a determination as to what true, quality "mastering" can provide.

    That being said, I have no reason to doubt that you were satisfied with your own experience, although I think it would be be cool if you could post both premaster/master versions of your song here, using the RO upload/media player for analysis and discussion.

    Finally, and FWIW, I personally wouldn't use SC to upload any audio to any mastering service.

    I have no idea what a "Prime" SC account provides or allows, maybe it's a better quality than their standard free version is (?)... but if they are using the same codec quality ( or lack thereof) as the regular SC service uses, then it's not anything I'd be interested in, as SC is notorious for encoding lossy artifacts and overall signal degradation into audio, regardless of how high the resolution of the file format is that you upload on your end.

    Your much better off using an FTP, or other file transfer service like DropBox, where the files aren't being manipulated in any way in an effort to limit bandwidth/storage.

    Just sayin'...

    kmetal likes this.
  13. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    @kmetal @DonnyThompson Hi guys, I haven't even unpacked my studio since getting here :-/. So, if you go to my soundcloud site (link in my profile) you'll see both up there. I have no other way to show for the meanwhile. You'll still hear the difference.

    Donny, I agree if you can afford a mastering engineer it's probably still the best option. That being said, this works surprisingly well for a intelligent algorithm system. Landr are not just " some guy".

  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Yeah Tom is knowledgable in acoustics too. He made sure his room was up to snuff.

    Lol there are days where I wish I was making as much as 8 bucks a song lmao. But you can't put a price on loving what you do.


    I'll check out the link
  15. Guelph_Guy

    Guelph_Guy Active Member

    heck and I though they just used the "Radio Broadcast Template" in Waves
    kmetal likes this.
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Lol who knows...

    That said I did check out makzima's link, a while back, and honestly I felt there was and overall improvement to the mixes, particularly the bottom end. And the 'damage' wasn't nearly as drastic as I was expecting. Basically done distortion on the mids, which may be something in the recording that was just brought out.

    Overall it was better than I expected.

    W the ozone production bundle 2 out for an intro price of $423 at audio deluxe.com I scooped it up, so maybe we can have a 'preset shootout' one of these days lol
    Makzimia likes this.

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