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Today I’ll be reviewing eMastered, an online mastering service I’ve been testing. Can it produce good quality masters at a cheaper rate than a studio engineer? Is it worth using?
This is what we help you discover via this review and the below samples we have for you. If you’re in a rush though:
eMastered is a market leading online audio mastering service. When I mastered my track using the tool, my track’s synth, piano and drums sounded punchier. The vocals became clearer, and the bass improved in quality. Overall it was a huge improvement over the premastered version.
I'll share a lot more details in this review, but if you want a quick conclusion, eMastered has good software and can master tracks well.
Now for the detail. 🙂
What Is eMastered?
AI-powered audio mastering is growing in popularity, and eMastered is one such service that offers fast mastering for your music.
With eMastered, you can upload your track to their platform and have it mastered in seconds using their AI-powered mastering engine. Their algorithm automatically analyzes your song and chooses the tools that are best suited to bringing your track to life.
eMastered can even analyze a reference fie to determine why it sounds so good and then apply what it learned to your master, matching loudness, balance, compression, and other factors. So, if there are recordings you absolutely love and want to emulate, you’ll probably love what eMastered has to offer.
eMastered was created by Grammy award winning engineers. These engineers have mastered tracks for the likes of Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, Seal, and many other names you’re bound to recognize. We'll talk more about them a little later.
How Much Does eMastered Cost?
eMastered only has one plan, which you can pay for in three ways. So, once subscribed, you get unlimited masters and downloads, no matter what, in addition to advanced mastering options, advanced reference mastering, cloud storage, shareable library page, and track statistics (on your public page).
eMastered gives you the option of choosing from the following payment plans:
- Yearly (billed monthly) at $24 per month. One-year commitment is mandatory.
- Yearly at $14 per month ($168 billed upfront).
- Monthly (billed monthly) at $49 per month (you can cancel at any time).
We find this pricing scheme cluttered and confusing and suspect most users will feel the same about it. But if you want to save money and plan to use eMastered a lot over the course of the next year or so, then the second Yearly option is probably best.
What Else Does eMastered Offer?
eMastered’s main offering is AI-powered online mastering, so that’s going to be our focus in this guide.
But there are a couple more items of interest on their website, which we’ll cover here.
eMastered offers its own VST plugin called ATOM Synth.
What makes it compelling is that the 325+ presets were created by Grammy Award winners, and the fact that it’s an AI synth. Powered by eMastered AI tech, the plugin works in real time to improve the sound of the virtual instrument.
The synth has an attractive and sophisticated user interface. It comes with three oscillators, five waveforms, four advanced analog-modeled filters, assignable LFOs, modern and vintage driven effects, legato, unison and 32-voice polyphony modes, unison and advanced oscillator stacking, and real-time acoustic synthesis visualization.
The synth was created by Dan Wilson, Smith Carlson, and CID.
I’ve had a listen to find out what it’s capable of, and I find the ATOM synth to be incredibly versatile and amazing sounding.
The eMastered blog features the latest news and articles musicians (and those looking to master their music) are likely to be interested in.
They’ve covered topics like the basics of audio, best DAWs for home producers, beginner’s guide to mixing music, songwriting tactics for writing a bridge, pop chord progressions, studio acoustic treatment, building beats, and more.
How Does eMastered Mastering Sound?
When in comes to eMastered, you’re bound to have many questions.
How does it work? Is it as fast as they say it is? How do the tracks come out sounding? Good, bad, or somewhere in between?
Well, you’re in luck. This is a hands-on review, and we always like to give things a try for ourselves.
I went and got one of my tracks remastered, and here’s what happened.
In 2017, I released a track called “Your Eyes Give It Away.” It’s a simple pop tune (some of my friends said it reminded them of Hall & Oates) that reflected some of the things I was going through at the time and the emotions I felt along the way.
The song features synth/piano, organ, vocals (lead and backing), synth bass, drums, and guitars.
Even with all those layers, the song has a bit of a “hollow” sound to it. It has quite a bit of space I probably could have filled with additional guitar tracks.
Some of my friends also commented that I could have beefed up the bass.
Overall, I’m quite happy with the mix. I’m not sure I was able to draw the best out of the track with my mastering process, however, because the backing vocals aren’t as powerful as I would like them to be, and I think the track could use a little more upper end shine and clarity.
The track needs a little more “life”!
Is that something eMastered could deliver? Maybe, maybe not. But I was excited to give it a try.
Uploading & Mastering The Track
To master my track, all I had to do was drag and drop it onto their homepage.
The uploading process began immediately, and it didn’t take long at all.
Then the mastering process began, and the AI started analyzing bpm, adding compression, optimizing for playback and more. Before I knew it, the track was finished mastering and started playing immediately.
My first impression was that eMastered gave the track exactly what it needed – more life. The finished master was much brighter, louder, and clearer (by the way, you can toggle between the original and mastered version of the tracks to hear the difference).
The guitars found their proper place in the mix (I never meant for them to be overbearing anyway – they’re supposed to play a complementary role to the other instruments).
The backing vocals stayed about the same, though.
Note that eMastered also has mastering options that you can play with to change the intensity of compression, mastering, stereo width, volume, and equalization.
To download any track you've mastered, it’s necessary to purchase a plan with eMastered.
eMastered Example Sample – Comparing The Two Masters
Let’s start with the original “Your Eyes Give It Away.”
I self-mastered this track, and readily admit my process was simple and basic. I didn’t spend a lot of time on mastering.
I usually use one plugin (with presets) where I can change all the settings like levels and EQ and add some limiting to the track with a second plugin.
I try a few presets until I find something I’m happy with, and make additional tweaks based on what I hear in my head. This process generally gets me about 80% there, but is never a reflection of what’s possible taking a more intentional approach.
Overall, in the original master, the vocals are front and center. The rhythm synth/piano is complementary and doesn’t overtake the vocals. It sits nicely in the mix.
The bass and drums come in at the same time. Throughout, the drums aren’t overbearing. They could potentially come up a bit but at the level they’re at, they don’t distract from the song, which can be a plus.
The bass is maybe a little too quiet. Although the bass part is simplistic (and doesn’t necessarily need to draw a lot of attention), a stronger bottom end could certainly support the other instruments in this song.
Aside from that, it just seems like the song needs a little more “life.” It’s got a bit of an arena rock vibe (because of the reverb), and that seems to work well, but it leaves the song feeling like it could be fleshed out more. Maybe another strong, rhythm part at a lower register could undergird the rest of the performance.
Mastering can’t fix everything, so we can’t let our expectations get carried away with us. But the right mastering could certainly give the track a bit of a boost.
Now for the eMastered version of “Your Eyes Give It Away.”
Right off the bat, the synth/piano part sounds stronger and punchier. You can even hear some of the nuances you couldn’t hear in the original master.
The vocals are still front and center but sound clearer overall. The backing vocals haven’t come up in the mix from what I can tell, but you can hear some of the nuances a little better.
The drums sound punchier, again without being overbearing. The guitars are also sitting nicely.
The bass was a little troublesome in the original master. And while I wouldn’t say it’s perfect in this master either, I do find it more present.
Most importantly, the track does seem to have more life to it. Bringing out the higher frequencies seems to have made a big difference, and the track is clearer without being abrasive.
The guitar solo at the end doesn’t sound “alone” and sounds like it’s better supported by the other instruments too.
One of the most powerful features of eMastered is the ability to upload a “reference” master, have the AI analyze it, and apply similar effects and techniques to achieve comparable results.
Many times, mastering engineers will also use reference tracks to guide their work. This allows them to get a sense of how a track should sound when they’re doing working on it.
So, I went and found a Hall & Oates track to use as a reference. I don’t know their catalog that well and have no idea what track of theirs sounds the most like “Your Eyes Give It Away.” But I chose something newer since newer music tends to have more fidelity in terms of sound quality.
I chose “I Can Dream About You” from their 2018 release called Our Kind of Soul.
This song’s instrumentation is considerably different from “Your Eyes Give It Away.” On Our Kind of Soul, acoustic guitars are employed liberally, and on my track, there are no acoustic guitars whatsoever.
But the tempo, chord progression, and song arrangement feature some similarities. I also liked the clear, wide open sound of the song, as well as how the backing vocals are loud and clear.
So, I uploaded “I Can Dream About You” as a reference track and hit the “Remaster” button.
Once done, I had a listen.
Compared to the original master, I found the reference master even clearer and punchier. The bass stood out in a big way. I think it finally reached the level it needed to be at.
The vocals sounded way clearer. You could even hear the decay of the reverb.
Again, backing vocals still sounded a bit buried to me. But you can’t fix everything in mastering.
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this much of a difference with reference mastering and was pleasantly surprised and impressed.
At this point, I was quite happy with the master I got, but I figured I would put eMastered through the paces and decided to do one last master to see if I could improve upon a good thing.
Again, I didn’t think there was a whole lot to improve upon, but if there was a way to bring out the backing vocals a little more, I’d be tickled silly.
So, I widened the stereo width, increased the EQ intensity, and boosted the mids. Then I hit the “Remaster” button for one final round of experimental mastering.
Once the track started playing, I started listening. I noticed a little more separation between tracks, but overall, nothing to get too excited about.
I still wasn’t able to bring out the backing vocals, so that’s probably something that would need to be done in the mix rather than at the mastering stage (at some point, you’ve just got to call a spade a spade).
This isn’t to say any of the changes I applied were bad or unnoticeable. Far from it. But I don’t think any of my changes improved upon what was already a great master thanks to the reference mastering feature.
So, I won't be adding the third master here, because it simply isn't anything to write home about.
Best Master Overall
So, the best master overall was the reference master.
This seems to make a lot of sense. Once you’ve pinpointed a track you like and the qualities it embodies, applying the same techniques to your master should result in a master you’re pleased with.
Of course, choosing a track is always the challenging part. You may need to listen to a lot of music to know what kind of mastering you like.
Then again, you can always go back to your favorite artists and favorite songs, have a listen, and see if any of what you hear strikes you as having a great sound you’d love to emulate.
You don’t always need to find a song that’s identical to yours. But it is a good idea to find some commonalities.
Based on our experience, if you’re going to be using eMastered, we do recommend taking advantage of reference mastering for best results.
Ease Of Use & Usability
There’s nothing bad we can say about the eMastered interface, which is well-designed, attractive, and easy to use.
The ability to drag and drop tracks and get started fast is nice. The uploading process is over in a minute or less, and while mastering might take a little longer, it’s basically done in two minutes or less as well.
The ability to be able to further tweak your master from there is a nice touch, and these settings are worth playing around with if there are aspects of your master, you’re not quite happy with.
Again, using a reference seems like best practice here. While the AI should give you a great master off the bat, it seems to do even better when it has more information to work with.
And if you like the results of a specific iteration, you can save it as a preset within their interface. I don’t think this is something you should do for all your songs, but if you have an album of music that features similar instrumentation and arrangements throughout, taking advantage of a preset to create consistency does seem to make sense.
eMastered Review, The Verdict
Overall, we find eMastered to be a powerful tool for mastering your music.
I was pleasantly surprised by the results, especially when I took advantage of the reference mastering feature.
And we also found all the mastering options responsive and helpful. You’re easily able to tweak anything you want until you’re completely satisfied with it (of course, some things can only be fixed in the mix, and if you come across anything you can’t perfect with the master, it’s usually best to go back to your mix to see if there’s something you can do about it).
Although you can get the cost down to as little as $14 month by choosing the yearly plan, the $49 price tag for monthly is just too high. If they had a per-track plan, many users would find that helpful.
eMastered is great. It’s a lot of fun to work with, and you can get some amazing masters with it (we were impressed!).
But it’s only worth the asking price if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of mastering, and we feel they should have another plan for the average artist who probably isn’t releasing new music every single month.
Aside from that, we have no complaints, and even recommend giving it a try!