The 5 Best Online Mastering Services (2023)
As the final stage of music production, mastering is a crucial process to make your song sound balanced on all platforms. Whether you are a professional musician or new to recording and mastering, you should know more about online mastering services like Landr, BandLab, and Abbey Road Studios.
Mastering is a must for every song or album release as it enhances the song to sound the best it can be on all playback platforms by adding compression, EQ, limiters, automation, and other effects, as well as balancing the volume.
Today there are many online platforms to master your tracks, either with an automated mastering process or a mastering engineer doing the work. Most online services use algorithms through some software that enhance the track in minutes.
You also have the chance to work with an audio engineer through online platforms, but it will take more time and budget to do so. However, the results can be much better when the mastering is done by an engineer instead of an algorithm. Nothing beats hands-on experience.
With these options available, online mastering services are getting more and more popular each day, especially among indie artists. It is convenient for musicians to master a track at home because of the quick turnaround and the comfort.
1. Abbey Road Studios
As one of the most iconic studios in the world, many award-winning audio engineers work at Abbey Road Studios with a wide range of top-notch equipment to record and master the tracks of famous worldwide artists.
Abbey Road Studios also offers online mastering with a professional audio engineer from the Abbey Road Studios family. You can select different audio engineers on the website and choose with whom you want to work for an extra price. The delivery time is around five working days, but there is also the fast-tracking option to shorten the time at an additional cost.
The price of mastering a single track with Abbey Road Studio audio engineers is $130, which can be a bit high for some musicians. But you get to work with some of the best production masters for a top-quality track.
After you start the process, you can communicate with your mastering engineer to explain the sound you want to achieve, and you have the option to send the track back for revision one time.
You can also choose the song format you like, including iTunes Download, physical CD, 12” vinyl, and more. The studio also offers different mastering processes, such as stem mastering, Dolby Atmos mastering, and online mixing.
The process is highly easy and intuitive. You upload your track, choose your engineer, send a reference song, and-or explain the sound you are after, and wait for around 5 days for your song to be ready.
2. Metropolis Studios
Another iconic studio, Metropolis Studios from the U.K., has been offering mastering services to all artists with their Grammy-winner audio engineers and top-quality equipment. Some feature artists from the studio include Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Blue.
Metropolis Studios is for those who want the best mastering quality possible, as the work is highly professional and pricey. For around $150, you get to choose the audio engineer you want to work with and one set of revisions. The process takes from 5 to 10 days, depending on the audio engineer’s schedule.
Metropolis does not offer automated mastering but only with professional audio engineers, ensuring the outcome will be as good as possible.
The tracks mastered with Metropolis Studios sound warm, powerful, and balanced. You can check some of the examples on the website. The website also offers various services like different mastering styles, mixing, vinyl and CD releases, as well as recording.
The website is quite easy to navigate, and there is a lot of information about the audio engineers, equipment, and processes. You can check it to hear some of the mastered tracks and how they sound to decide if this is the best option. You can also check out some user reviews to see their feedback.
Landr is an increasingly popular platform among everyday musicians, thanks to its wide range of services, ease of use, and strong AI for mastering. The platform offers many production tools such as distribution, samples, an online audio mastering studio, customizable mastering, and plugins.
Landr offers automated mastering instead of working with real-life audio engineers. The system analyses the production style of your track and cross-references it with its vast music library to create a balanced, powerful, and unique song for you. It uses some special post-production processors for optimum results.
The Landr mastering process results in nicely balanced, warm tracks with great low ends. But, the high-ends are not optimal as they sound a bit thin. The navigation and process are highly easy and quick, as the mastering takes only a few minutes. Plus, there is a free trial option to see the results for yourself to a point.
Although Landr is more affordable compared to working with real-life audio engineers, it slightly sits on the pricey side when it comes to automated mastering services. It has three subscription plans, including Studio and Pro options, as well as the Single Master option. The single option costs a single $10, while the Studio is $12.5 and the Pro $25 per month.
The Single Master option includes a single WAV file mastering, while the Studio plan gives access to unlimited MP3 masters, 36 WAV masters per year, unlimited distribution through different platforms like Spotify, 1200 sample credits per year, and more than 30 DAW plugins and VSTs. With the Pro subscription, you get unlimited MP3, WAV & HD WAV masters.
In short, Landr is not only one of the best-automated mastering services today but also a handy website for different production processes. You can give it a try with the trial version to see if you like the services.
The indie musicians’ favorite platform, BandLab, is another great tool for music production and mastering. It offers a free DAW to create tracks as well as a free online music mastering service. It is not a top-quality service, but it gets the job done for most everyday musicians.
The website is highly easy to use as it does not have many features like other platforms. If you want a straightforward mastering process without getting too deep, BandLab may be just for you.
There are four different options to master your track, including Universal, Fire, Clarity, and Tape. Universal provides natural dynamics and tonal balancing, Fire offers punchy low-ends and clear mids. Clarity is for pristine highs and light dynamic expansion, and Tape gives your track warm saturation and analog dynamics.
The BandLab mastered tracks shine with their high-ends, sounding crisp and accurate. The low-ends are not that good, and the tracks do not sound as powerful or deep as masters from real-life audio engineers. However, the overall results are not bad and are quite good, especially when you consider that this is a free service.
Musicians, after a simple mastering for their demos or songs for their portfolio, can use the service without hesitation and see the results themselves.
Another online audio mastering service, CloudBounce, offers automated mastering with its powerful AI. The service is easy to use and quick, with good results. It allows you to choose the genre to shape your track’s sound according to your needs.
You can upload your song, choose your payment plan, choose your genre and wait for the AI to master your track in a few minutes. If you want to try different genres, you will have to remaster your track which again takes a few minutes.
The single master service costs $10.90, allowing you to choose from more than 15 genre-specific mastering styles, 10 post-mastering options, single-track hi-res WAV, and CD-quality WAV support.
If you want to master multiple tracks, you can go for a monthly subscription option for $21.90, which gives you unlimited mastering services.
You can also edit some other aspects of your track, such as volume, warmth, EQ, and brightness, along with the genre-specific options. The results are quite good, with a nice warmth and depth. Of course, the clarity is not as good as the tracks mastered by real-life audio engineers, but there is not much to complain about here.
What is an Online Mastering Service?
Online mastering services are just what the name implies. On these platforms, either there are real-life audio engineers to work on your track for a few days or automated software that masters the track in a few minutes with algorithms.
The automated mastering services are way more affordable compared to the mastering services of audio engineers. However, nothing beats a master from a real, experienced audio engineer. The cost is well above an affordable price but worth every penny.
Are Online Mastering Services any good?
Online mastering services provided by real-life audio engineers give professional-quality results, while automated mastering enhances your track to the next level. Professional musicians always work with audio engineers, while automated services are mainly used by semi-pro and beginner musicians.
What’s the difference between Online Mastering and Professional Mastering?
Online mastering, if done by an AI, does not provide the same quality as the work of a professional audio engineer. As each song has unique nuances, a professional ear puts more attention to detail and gets creative to make the track shine in different aspects. But AI only works with general rules.
There are many different mastering techniques to make a track shine in different aspects. This way, songs get more interesting and sound much better.
How important is Mastering?
Mastering is one of the most important steps when creating a song, as it allows the track to sound optimal on all platforms, such as smart devices, laptops, headphones, and speakers. It enhances the song with different tools and effects to sound as good as it can be.
Without a proper master, a track would sound raw, and you would feel something is missing even if you do not have any knowledge or training about music or mastering.
Mastering is a crucial step in music production, and today, it is easier than ever to have a good master from your couch. Depending on your budget and needs, you can check any of these online audio mastering services to enhance your tracks and take them to the next level.