In the modern age of 2022, content is king. Producers, musicians, podcasters, and other creatives are all hungry to feed the algorithm that rewards consistent releases, interactive works of art, and click-bait style of content.
This need and hunger have made online mastering services like eMastered more in demand than ever before.
So let’s dive into everything you need to know about what makes eMastered so good, if it really can help your music career out, some clever ways other people in the music industry are using their online mastering services, and finally whether or not you should use what eMastered has to offer or if you should just put in the work learning the plugins and training your ears.
So let’s dive in…
What Is Automated Mastering?
Mastering, which has the potential to be a raw and human art form in and of itself, is an incredibly complex topic. Not only that, but it has a far higher barrier of entry when you compare it to what it takes to become an average bedroom producer.
Human mastering engineers can get the maximum amount of clarity, emotion, and intensity out of their masters through their decades of experience, thousands of dollars of hardware, impeccable communication skills between themselves and the artist, and (dare I say it again?) even more decades of experience.
But this is at the highest level of the master process…
At a bare minimum, all mastering has to be is getting the playback volume of a track to be at a level comparable to other commercially released music. And nothing makes this easier and more accessible than services like what eMastered’s (or its competitors like Landr).
How online mastering services work is through analysis of thousands, millions even, of tracks, which enables their artificial intelligence to determine the general loudness levels, amounts of compression, EQ intensity, and other parameters that are commonly seen across tracks of that style or genre.
From there, you upload your music into the algorithms of each of the online mastering services which then implant their presets, native plugin parameters, and more into their master engines to help recreate the sonic characteristics in the music that you created.
The result of using eMastered or similar services is that you have a commercially-viable master whose volume, saturation, and other qualities are theoretically comparable to that of commonly heard and commercially-released tracks.
Sounds a little too good to be true right?
How Does eMastered Work?
The user experience of a site and services like eMastered is second to none. From the moment that you load up their home page, you know instantly what you are supposed to do and where you’re supposed to upload your music files.
Once you’ve uploaded your files, the algorithm analyzes your files and applies what it deems to be the best possible mastering effects to the audio. The result after its mastering settings have been applied is what the algorithm deems will be a powerful, tight, and professionally-done master.
The final result?
I had a chance to upload a handful of different masters into the service so that I could A/B test them; the preview against the original file.
My main takeaway from the service is that they were objectively louder than my original submission. So while there may be some subtle nuances that could be improved upon, the absolute basics of a master’s job have been completed.
What was good…
After I downloaded the master version that eMastered did, I dropped it into Ableton to make a direct comparison and I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised. Many of the EQ moves, compression adjustments, and other glaring affectations I had done on my own master had been accounted for in eMastered’s version.
My compression was done quite close to zero dB and eMastered’s version left only a single dB or so of headroom (which I can only assume is left for mixed-media compression settings, of which I’ve read about but whose details go beyond the scope of this article).
So the TLDR is that it did its job well enough to fool the average listener. I consider myself more of a producer than an accomplished mastering engineer, and so the platform was able to easily measure up to my own skill sets.
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That being said, the reason why I justify paying professional engineers the costs that they charge me is for everything that the eMastered platform’s algorithm cannot offer.
What could have been better
Having put so much of my paychecks into human mastering services, I think I am biased when I say that I think human-done mastering services have a signature vibe and feeling that AI will never be able to replicate. In the same way that I may go to a tattoo artist because I love their signature artistic style, I also go to my favorite handful of mastering engineers for their sonic pallet that they always impart onto my records.
Human-done masters impart a level of emotion and authenticity that I truly believe AI mastering will never be able to achieve. It’s subtle tweaking in saturation. It’s a small automation change in the gain staging of the compressor that causes the hooks to explode with color.
It’s the decades and investments made into the ears of an individual that warrants the price tag of professional mastering engineers who are mastering big-box records.
But therein lies the biggest benefit of platforms such as eMastered…
Whom Is AI Mastering Built For?
Where AI mastering shines is in its ability to quickly and affordably crank out professional-quality audio to the masses. Not everyone is looking to invest hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into a single mastering job and AI services offer that functionality with ease.
And even if producers and artists on tight deadlines are looking to invest this much money into their projects, human masters can be time intensive and laborious making AI masters a quick-fix solution to get your project in by the deadline.
So here is a short list of who can be utilizing the effects of AI mastering, and how they can be getting the most of these cost-effective and always-punctual services.
Platforms like eMastered’s bread and butter customers are producers; that’s no secret. And with the loudness wars and phatness factors being so prevalent across the majority of today’s genres, oftentimes consumer expectations simply don’t require a commercial master to be emotive, compelling, and dynamic – oftentimes it just needs to be loud or hit hard in a club.
And so for up-and-coming producers focused on getting tracks playable in clubs and not ignored by AnRs, AI mastering services can be a simple solution.
Content creators on YouTube, TikTok and other platforms are constantly needing royalty-free music to populate their timelines and provide backdrops for their videos.
And while AI music-generating software and ill-made free beats are everywhere on the internet, oftentimes they sonically don’t measure up to the rest of the music being released or being used in other content creators’ videos.
Where AI mastering shines for content creators is its ability to turn a simple loop, MIDI-based drag’n’drop piano progression, or other user-friendly production into a full and professional-enough-sounding master which allows rapid-fire content creators to take control over their content creation, schedule, and music royalties.
In this day and age, everyone is a podcaster…
But nothing causes listeners to cast you off more often than when you have thin, brittle, and shoddy vocal recordings on your latest episode.
AI mastering services like eMastered allow podcasters with little to no audio processing experience to achieve thicker, warmer vocal recordings to broadcast out to the masses.
How Much Does eMastered Cost?
eMastered is a subscription-based audio mastering service that offers high-quality, professional-grade audio mastering at a fraction of the cost of traditional studios.
With eMastered, you can get your music mastered for as little as $9 per month, or you can pay for a one-time mastering session for a flat fee of $149.
The Final Verdict On eMastered
Online mastering services like eMastered are something that many producers and musicians deem controversial and something that they don’t want to like but honestly haven’t ever really tried.
The last thing I think producers, especially newer producers who blindly chastise services like this before their ears are even trained enough to recognize its merits, is to blindly hate on these AI mastering services.
There is a LOT of math that goes into products and services such as these, so while they may seem like a robot is doing the job of a professional and human mastering engineer, rest assured that there are a lot of math, love, passion, blood, sweat, and tears that go into these algorithms for this.
These algorithms are doing a lot of work, and the people behind them are doing a lot of work to make their products as perfect as possible in hopes to make your life easier.
So should you get this service? well. it all depends on what you need! But by and large, the majority of producers and artists can find a lot of fun, fast value out of eMastered and they’re doing themselves a disservice by at least not checking them out.
Learn More About eMastered Here