AI Mastering is a modern phenomenon. Instead of working directly with an engineer, artists hand off the final stage of audio processing to a mastering engine, often at a much more affordable price.
Is AI mastering your song worth it? But can AI mastering truly replace a human’s touch? Below, we’ll explore the PROS and CONS of each processing method so that you can make the right choice for your music.
What Is Mastering?
Mastering is the final stage of audio processing that prepares a final mix of a song for distribution to digital streaming platforms (DSPs), radio stations, and physical formats like vinyl and CDs. During Mastering, the audio mix is optimized to create a cohesive listening experience through loudness, normalization, and compression.
Mastering can also include stereo enhancement and monitoring for any noticeable clicks or pops in a mix– in some cases, a mastering engineer may refer an artist to take a second look with the mixing engineer. They are the last line of defense before a track is released.
This is the last stage of the music production process. Having a professionally mastered track is critical since it will help listeners experience your music in the best way possible, relative to the streaming platform they’re using. While Mastering is the final stage of the production process, it can still add warmth or color to your final mix, so it’s as much of a creative process as it is a technical one.
Traditional Mastering is done in a studio by a professional mastering engineer. These engineers specialize in Mastering and are usually separate from whoever mixed your song, though in some cases, your mixing and mastering engineer may be the same.
What Is AI Mastering?
AI Mastering uses artificial intelligence or machine learning to master your song rather than working directly with a mastering engineer. Emastered is the industry-leading mastering software, but this service has several iterations. Artists can upload their mixes and have them mastered within a matter of minutes at a fraction of the price of traditional Mastering.
AI mastering services as usually optimized for distribution to digital streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Some AI Mastering services may provide the option to toggle specific parameters on or off for some additional flexibility during the mastering process.
How Does AI Mastering Work?
Due to technological advances, AI mastering at scale is now possible. Every online mastering service differs, but AI Mastering works by analyzing and adjusting your mix based on an ever-expanding dataset. In other words, AI mastering engines learn based on their full range of mastering experiences and use the parameters set by their creators to master your songs.
AI Mastering Vs. Traditional Mastering
So, should you opt for traditional Mastering or AI Mastering? Here are the general use cases of each and the PROS and CONS you should consider:
Traditional Mastering involves sending out your final mix, or mixes, to an engineer in a studio. This process can take several weeks, but you’ll have more input on the final master. Mastering engineers can make revisions for additional fees and usually charge by the hour or a flat rate for mastering your track.
- Nothing can fully replicate the nuance of a human ear
- Vetted, professional mastering engineers have plenty of experience
- It can be costly
- It takes longer to turn around a song
- You’ll have to spend time vetting individual mastering engineers
With AI Mastering, you simply upload your music to AI mastering software. Within minutes, you should have a mastered version of your track ready for distribution. Some mastering software will request that you upload a reference track. This reference track can help the software cater to your master based on your specific needs. You usually pay for AI mastering upfront or as a part of a monthly subscription fee, depending on the service provider.
- Much more cost-effective
- Some mastering services provide multiple versions or customization tools so that you can add more creative input
- Excellent AI mastering services can produce a clean sound
- It might not be the best pick for mastering full-length albums or for specific settings outside of DSPs and traditional distribution
In short, AI mastering is worth it for a particular type of artist! Whether you’re an indie creator with limited resources or simply find yourself putting out a lot of material, AI mastering is a cost-effective way to polish your mixes. It might not always cater to the level of human nuance, but it can get you close at a fraction of the price.
Unless you’re opting for something specific like creating a cohesive, commercial product or mastering for a niche output, AI Mastering is worth it for many indie artists. Plus, many sites provide a free trial option, so it’s worth giving AI mastering a try. Have fun adding that extra punch to your music.