The difference between a pro-level recording and an amateur-level recording: mastering.
And when it comes to this final (but crucial) last step before releasing a song, lots of people choose a free online mastering service like LANDR.
But many mastering engineers are not totally sold on this idea.
So I thought I’d review LANDR myself. The big question here: is LANDR any good?
How Does LANDR Work?
LANDR is a service that will master your tracks in a matter of minutes using an algorithm similar to the one Spotify uses to recommend music.
Basically, it looks at your song’s production style and masters it by referencing their library of music with similar sonic properties and styles.
It will add effects like compression, EQ, and saturation during processing, allowing you to choose an intensity level of Low, Medium, or High.
How I Use LANDR
I’m trying to make this review as objective as possible, but I should tell you that I am a subscriber. Literally — I pay $25 a month for an unlimited amount of masters.
I’ve been releasing singles through my Patreon page and every single one of those songs goes through LANDR.
I usually choose the Low intensity because LANDR says that will keep it sounding the closest to my original mix.
You can check out the songs below to see what you think:
Division Over LANDR
It may not be surprising that many mastering engineers are not too keen on LANDR. Anytime a computer or algorithm threatens someone’s livelihood, people aren’t happy.
Like, if and when someone creates a service that can write, record, mix, master, distribute, and promote music, I’ll probably have some reservations about it.
And to see which is better — a human or an algorithm — people have put automatic mastering to the test, jutting mastering engineers vs. LANDR.
Sometimes the engineer makes a better master. Sometimes not.
So is LANDR mastering good? I’d say it depends on who you ask.
LANDR Pros And Cons
Everything has good and bad to it, even LANDR. So let’s break it down, list style…
- Pro-quality mastering
- Masters tracks in just minutes
- Affordable for the DIY musician
- Can’t catch nuances that a human mastering engineer could
- Doesn’t alert you to issues with your original mix
You can test out LANDR for free — just create an account, upload your song, and then you can listen to the mastered version, switching between the original and the master.
With a Free account, you can download the low-res MP3s for free and WAVs are about $10 apiece.
For $25 a month, you get to master an unlimited number of tracks and distribute your music to Spotify, iTunes, and more. (I haven’t used their distribution service, so can’t speak to that).
Of course, LANDR charges you less if you pay yearly, but you may not want to pay $300 upfront and then also annually.
You can actually get $10 back if you go through my invite link and sign up for a paid plan (disclosure: I also get $10 credited to my LANDR account. So it’s a win-win).
I would say give it a try. At least listen to the difference between your original mix and the mastered version. I mean, it’s free.
I actually had a Free account for a while and just paid $10 to download each mastered track. But I was putting out multiple tracks per month and it started to make more sense just to get a subscription.
And you may not be recording enough music to make it worth your money. That’s fine.
But I would recommend trying it out for free to see if it could work for you.
As Graham Cochrane says, if the LANDR master sounds good, then use LANDR. If a mastering engineer’s master sounds good, then hire that engineer.
What are your thoughts on LANDR? Have you used it? Let me know in the comments…