For those who are not aware of the online "Mastering" services that are available to the modern day producer then you need to read up on LANDR. They were the first ones that I payed attention to a long time ago and I feel that they still lead the game for sure. I wont be going into the nitty gritty of what it does, for that I recommend going to visit their site if you want to know the ins and outs. Visit them here.
Once you have read up on them you are probably thinking what I was. Something like the following statements tend to come to mind...
-You mean to say... you upload a track and get a mastered version back.... instantly?
-Like pro quality? as in I can put a shit mix through it and it will sound amazing?
-I can focus on writing and I have my own personal mastering engineer a few clicks away?
-Why the fuck does everyone not just use this, surely it shouldn't be that simple?
The accuracy and answers to all of the above is....well....yes....kinda.
Continue reading below to see its benefits/flaws that I have seen after using it as a actual artist.
To start I can't deny it, it 100% does make your mixes sound better than flat unmastered bounce downs. But that says it does totally depend on your mixes and bounces. Remember the most important saying.
"You cant polish a turd, but you can sprinkle it with glitter"
And to me that is kind of what LANDR is like. I have broken down some thoughts about it below based on how and when I have used it.
Perks, benefits, and times it was actually useful.
-Your in the middle of a composition and you want a speedy reference or something to gel your track together "quickly" to send a file to someone etc then this is on point. It's fast, its simple and is effective enough for sharing ideas. Warning though, if your net is shit. Stick the kettle on.
-If you have no experience mastering then this is going to be a great tool for you if you bounce down a lot of ideas, drafts etc maybe for label submissions or to release. You may simply want to keep some "better" quality demos kicking about to listen to later on. In these situations this will be super helpful. If you don't have the output level, I would say focus on that first.
-So you have mixed your new release as best as you can and you cant afford or don't have the time or the energy to get your track mastered. In this case LANDR is perfect as you can pay for a month and do all your mastering in one go before canceling your account.
-When you get to the point that releasing the material is actually more important than "wasting" more time on it mixing or mastering it then yes without a doubt, 1000% just chuck it through LANDR and get on with your life and onto your next masterpiece. This increased output level I cant recommend enough.
-It is also fantastic to reference to when you are learning to master yourself, there is no doubt that LANDR gives you a good standard of quality and what should be expected as a minimum before releasing a track. It is nice to master your own music and then listen to a LANDR version to compare the two, for that kind of learning feedback I think it is awesome.
Problems and Criticisms...
-Your mixes often sound "Safe". You get balance for sure but sometimes as a producer you want your mixes to "smack you in the fucking face" or have crazy dynamic ranges that this can sometimes drop out a little with LANDR.
- If your mix is bad you will never get your desired average RMS that will keep up volume wise with your top productions. Pick your side of the "Loudness War" any way you want but LANDR firmly keeps you in the middle ground in the "Safe" zone. Which for some artists and producers is perfectly fine but for others who want to push it then you will not get this with LANDR.
-Sometimes you don't actually use it for months on end because you may have writers block or are having a total identify crisis about what sound or genre you want to be so you end up spending a fortune on your subscription and don't use it. When I had my worst writing block ever pre Vermillion post Echidna I lost over a year on my monthly subscription fees to LANDR and did not use it once. At the time it was like £14.99 a month so you can see that adds up a month.
-If you decide to prepare your tracks in a different way for live or you want to release a VIP of your tracks (VIP = When the original artist remixes a track they previously released) then when you come to master it again if you have a super long build up or softer part than the original then your track will be mastered differently than the original. This is ok I guess but when you spend so long mixing your drop and your track this can be a little disheartening when you come to play it to a crowd.
No doubt that LANDR 100% does sounds great. No denying it. This said it does not make up for shit mixing and songwriting.so you cant rely on it for that. It sounds great and yes it does everything it says it does. Also they are continually getting better and better with their algorithms and advanced settings etc. Is LANDR the future for most producers, I think so.
So with that said why you wouldn't you want to download it right now and get started?
Here is the thing, do you know how mastering works? Do you know how your mix effects the mastering process? Do you know how to prep your track for mastering and the things you could do better? These things are so important and should you like it or not doing your homework and getting a better knowledge about this kind of stuff does help. Long term you will seriously be a better producer from it.
These days I have my own presets and individual mastering settings that I use to start for all my tracks, so when I come to VIP a track or make a new version for some interesting live performances then I have these settings on hand and can use them when ever I like without paying a monthly fee. I actually to this day still use a lot of "out the box" plug ins that come as standard in Ableton despite owning some very expensive "top end" mastering plugins.
To close I suggest that if in doubt you should try it for yourself and see the results on your own work and see if you can use it in a different way. Remember, everyone does it differently and there are no rules with production and you should always try stuff out for yourself no matter what I or any other person says.
Should you rely on it 100 percent and master all your music through it, fuck yeah...if that works for you. In most cases for the majority output is more important than fiddling with stereo imaging. So yes crack on LANDR lovers.
For me I was on the fence, then off, then on it again and now I am off.
I like it I don't love it.
I have used it for certain things but now I don't use it at all.
Turds are turds, even dressed in glitter.
But glitter is pretty.
People like glitter.
I don't like turds.
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