Landr Mastering Review 2023; Is This The Best Online Mastering Service?
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In this article I'm going to give my review of the Landr mastering service. I'll look at the good, the bad, give examples of a Landr mastered track, and give my final verdict.
What Is Landr?
Have you ever wanted your music mastered by Artificial Intelligence (AI)? The answer to that question, for most, will probably be, “I’m not sure.”
Mastering is kind of an abstract process, especially to musicians. They understand pre-production, tracking, and to an extent, even mixing. But mastering tends to be a bit of a mystery.
Further, most musicians know their music should be mastered, although sometimes forget to budget for it and end up running around like headless chickens when the music they’re working on is fully tracked and mixed.
So, many musicians know that mastering is important, but don’t know why it’s important, which is why it can easily be consigned to afterthought.
Today, there are more ways to get your music mastered than ever. Because of the internet, you’ve got access to practically every mastering engineer, across the world, right at our fingertips.
But if that wasn’t enough, you can also take advantage of AI solutions.
This is exactly what Landr is – an AI mastering tool. Because the mastering is handled by AI, the process is incredibly fast. Further, Landr mastering is more affordable compared to professional mastering.
Now, I’ve never found mastering overly expensive (somewhere in the range of $50 to $150 per track is common, even if you hire an experienced pro). but it’s true that you might be short on cash by the time you’ve gone through pre-production, tracking, and mixing.
In a pinch, AI mastering can be a huge help. You can get it done fast and for cheap. If you need to get your tracks up by tomorrow, for examle (try not to do that to yourself), you might still be able to fulfill on your aggressive deadline.
But that’s not all Landr is for. Some artists even rely on it for their mastering needs exclusively, because of how effective it is in terms of efficiency and cost.
Before we move on, I’ll answer a couple of questions I brought up, and then we’ll go deeper into Landr’s mastering service.
How Much Does Landr Mastering Cost?
Landr has three packages – Basic, Advanced, and Pro. The price of subscription varies based on which package you choose, as well as whether you opt for monthly or yearly subscriptions.
Here’s an overview of the cost for each:
What you should also know is that if you subscribe at the Pro level, you can master as many LO-MP3, HI-MP3, WAV, and HD WAV tracks as you want.
But at the Advanced level, you will pay $6.99 per WAV and $17.99 per HD WAV. At the Basic level, you’ll also pay $4.99 per HI-MP3.
How Does Landr Mastering Work?
Mastering generally takes time and costs money. This is the part that can be a little hard to swallow as an artist, especially if you’re on a tight deadline and budget.
I’ve personally worked with artists who underestimated the amount of time it would require to take their album from pre-production to finished product. They were working with an incredibly aggressive timeline, and somehow, I had to find a way to deliver on my promise – which was CD artwork and CD replication.
Anyway, what makes Landr attractive to the average musician is that the AI-mastering service is quick and affordable. So, for those times when you don’t have a lot of time or money, it can come in handy.
But that isn’t all. There are many artists that swear by Landr when it comes to mastering, because it boosts the levels of their tracks and gives them more body. And it does all this without friction. Their interface is easy to use and shouldn’t confuse anyone who’s reasonably tech savvy.
Another cool thing about Landr is that because it uses AI and machine learning, it gets smarter over time. This means it’s getting better and better at replicating the same process human mastering engineers are skilled at.
To cut to the chase, Landr uses a simple three-step process to master your track:
First, it analyzes the genre and style of your track, so it has a reference (real-life mastering often involves the same process).
Second, the AI applies effects to your track, as a mastering engineer would – EQ, compression, enhancers, limiters, and so on.
Third, Landr renders the track and adjusts all parameters to bring out the best parts of it.
What Else Does Landr Offer?
In this guide, we want to focus primarily on the mastering services Landr offers. It’s what they’re most known for, and it’s their main value proposition.
But Landr has diversified their offerings over time, and in this section, we’ll take a quick look at what else you can find on their website.
Much like CD Baby, TuneCore, or DistroKid, Landr helps independent musicians release and sell their music across popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, TikTok, Deezer, Pandora, TIDAL, and others.
Landr gives you the ability to try their service for free.
Since they have many creators coming to their site, it makes sense for them to offer distribution services, and that goes for all of their other offerings.
Landr has a plugin called Lethal, which is an all-purpose soft synth VST plugin. It comes with over 50GB of production quality sounds, over 1,100 instruments, and 2,140 drum and percussion samples.
If you’re interested in the plugin, you can try it for free for three days, and then “rent to own” for 20 monthly payments of $9.99.
Many producers don’t just build beats from scratch. They use samples to get their creative juices flowing, supplement their production, or even build their track.
Landr gives you access to their huge catalog of samples for just $5.99 per month. Whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find it here.
Whether you’re looking for engineers, vocalists, sessions musicians, producers, songwriters, designers or otherwise, you can access Landr’s network to find the talent you need for your next release.
Cost varies depending on who you’re looking to hire for your project.
Landr also has a blog where they cover topics their target audience is most likely to be interested in, from writing verses and choosing a reference track for your mix, to best guitar loops and weird scales you can use to create interest in your music.
Putting Landr To The Test – Here’s What Happened When I Mastered A Track With Landr
This is a hands-on review, and that being the case, we always like to test things out for ourselves when and where possible.
I decided to put Landr to the test to see what it could do with one of my tracks. Here’s what happened:
Here’s the story of how one of my singles came to be.
Back in 2017, I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary simply titled Amy.
In the year prior, I’d had a bit of success with my synthwave track “City Lights”. So, when I watched Amy, I started thinking to myself, “I wonder what jazzwave would sound like?”
So, I followed my intuition and ended up self-producing an electronic instrumental called “Waves.”
I’m a big fan of video game music, so I programmed most of the tracks and made liberal use of VST plugins. But I also played some guitar on the track, and some of the phrasing reminded my listeners of Steve Vai (high praise, but Vai is an absolute genius on the guitar compared to me).
The guitar is only a small part of the track either way.
Anyway, the track was a lot of fun to make, and to my surprise, it came out sounding a little bit like music from the video game Sonic the Hedgehog.
I’m proud of my mixing and mastering job on this track. I think it came together rather nicely.
Mastering With AI
Here’s where things start to get interesting.
I dug up the final mix for “Waves” (not the mastered version), and decided to hand over the reigns to Landr, just to see how my track would come out sounding when mastered by AI.
Uploading the track only took about a minute. From there, the AI quickly took over and began mastering the track. I could click on the “See Progress” button to see what tasks were being performed on the track (e.g. treating dynamics). Then, I was given access to a preview.
Within the preview I was able to listen to about 30 seconds of the track and compare it against the original. Instantly, I could hear that the levels were louder, and the bass was more pronounced.
I went ahead and paid for a WAV master, so that I could have the entire track and compare it against my self-mastered original.
Mastering only took about six minutes, and then I had the Landr mastered WAV in hand.
Naturally, before doing anything else, I had a listen through the AI-mastered track.
Here are some of the things that stuck out at me:
- The overall levels were boosted.
- The nuances (decay) of the rhythm synth were more pronounced.
- The guitar sounded a little more buried to me (It’s possible the AI thought of the guitar as a supporting instrument rather than a lead instrument, which it is in some parts).
- The lead synth “cut” a lot more than it originally did (I assume the AI identified this as the “melody” and adjusted accordingly).
- The bass had more “oomph” to it.
I didn’t notice any major differences with the drums overall (I think the hi-hat might be a tad crisper).
Now it’s time to compare the two masters.
Here’s the original, self-mastered version of “Waves”:
To me, the original version has a little more brashness and rawness to it compared to the AI-mastered version. The tracks have less separation, but they blend relatively well.
Now here’s the AI-mastered version:
Again, in this version, I feel like the guitar gets buried a little bit. It’s not a huge part of the song, but in my mind, it still plays an important role. But that’s about my only nitpick.
I hear more separation in the mix as well as more higher end clarity with the lead synth. And overall, the AI-mastered version seems to have a tighter sound to it.
I also feel the AI-mastered version has a little more warmth, but the sections that cut also cut a lot more, which creates a bit of contrast.
Although I do like my original master quite a bit, I must admit I like the Landr master better, because it brings out the warmth and fullness of the track.
My Mastering Vs. Landr Mastering
I’m quick to admit that I’m not the world’s best mastering engineer. I dabble in it, and there are more than a few tracks out there that feature my mastering work, but I’m nowhere in the same ballpark as some of the professionals I’ve personally met and worked with.
On “Waves”, I basically did two things – I applied a limiter and a mastering plugin. Plugins are so good these days that generally you only ever need a few to get a master you’re happy with.
The mastering plugin came with presets, which I took full advantage of.
When mastering, I start with a preset I’m happy with, and then tweak the EQ, dynamics, and levels until they work for me. In that sense, my process isn’t overly sophisticated.
I think I was able to bring my master to about 80% satisfcation. Landr did the additional 20% of work that would have taken me ages of fiddling, tweaking, and adjusting to accomplish.
So, while my mastering is rarely a long process, I can see that I would probably get more bang for buck from using Landr. It would save me time and give me a better result than I could achieve myself without extra time and effort.
Landr User Interface & Usability
Landr features an incredibly simple and usable, modern interface. It might even be a little too slick at times, but by no means is that a nitpick or criticism.
They might even have among one of the best and most intuitive interfaces I’ve seen in a while. I use a lot of Software as a Service (SaaS) apps, so that’s saying a lot.
It’s unlikely you’ll get stuck at any point in the process, from uploading your track to previewing it to downloading the finished master.
This also helps with the efficiency piece.
Landr Mastering Review; The Verdict
It’s difficult to assess the value of Landr based on one track. But overall, we do feel it’s one of the best automated online mastering services out there.
Without question, it delivers on its promise. Landr is both efficient and affordable. And their user interface is on point.
If you were to hunt for an engineer, pay them for their time, and send them your track, no matter how efficient, they aren’t likely to be as fast or cost effective.
This isn’t to say mastering takes a long time. Some engineers can deliver on a 24- to 48-hour turnaround and even give you a stellar master. But there is a significant gap between 48 hours and six to 10 minutes.
At the end of the day, whether you choose human mastering or AI mastering for your project is entirely up to you. And through trial and error and experience, you should be able to figure out which you prefer for what projects.
We don’t think human mastering is going anywhere. But all things considered, AI mastering does give mastering engineers a run for their money.
Bonus: What Is Mastering?
Both mixing and mastering fall under the umbrella of “post-production” processes and techniques, but they aren’t the same thing.
Mixing is the process of editing, adjusting, balancing, creating separation between tracks, adding effects, and creating space in the stereo image. Basically, it’s about track placement – putting each of the songs’ components where they belong, enhance, and complement each other.
Mastering involves correcting mix balance issues, bringing out specific qualities (or frequencies) of a track, putting the final touches on a mix, achieving consistency between tracks (especially for EPs and albums), and preparing the track(s) for distribution.
This is achieved by adding EQ, compression, limiting, and so on.
Bonus: Why Is Mastering Important?
Sometimes, mixing and mastering are handled by the same engineer. This generally isn’t advisable since the mixing engineer has been sitting with the mix(es) for a long time and may have “lost their ear” while working on the music.
The same thing happens to us musicians by the way – if we work on tracks for long enough, we quickly get to the point of not being able to tell whether something is any good!
A separate mastering engineer can bring their own vision to the music and enhance the experience the mixer created. Basically, you can get a “second pair of ears” on your music.
Sometimes, the engineer's vision is aligned with the artist’s or the band’s, but this isn’t always the case, which is why some artists like the “before” rather than the “after”.
But most of the time, artists go ahead with whatever master they were given regardless, believing the engineer had their best interests at heart.
Mastering can also involve the process of listening to the tracks on different devices, ensuring the music is ready for a variety of audio setups, be it earbuds, car stereos, surround systems or otherwise.
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