Music is Life


Fast and easy solutions don’t benefit you in the long run.

So I’ve recently worked with a young producer who gave me his tracks which were processed through Landr. For those who don’t know Landr is a website that will master your track within minutes. When I first heard of Landr I was in a mixing & mastering class at Dubspot LA and thought, “Oh great, now I just wasted all this money trying to learn something that people can get for practically free!” And naturally I was skeptical, I mean, you upload your track, wait a minute or two, and bam! you have a mastered track.

So I decided to put it to the test: I ran a few tracks of varying style and orchestration through it and it doesn’t sound bad, not bad at all. The levels are brought to 0dBFS and I could hear a bit of broad stroke EQ applied. I must say though that the tracks I chose had already been well-mixed so I would like to hear how Landr works with tracks with sub-par mixing. Herein is where the problem lies.

If a track is well-mixed, and it should be, then the mastering engineer really shouldn’t have much to do at all. I remember hearing a fellow producer once say about mastering, “When I send a track out to get mastered I don’t expect to hear a drastic difference.” And after hearing his pre-mastered tracks I have to agree with him, they were pretty damned good! John Paul Braddock, Formation Audio, says that the mastering process is to make a track “fit for purpose” (“Modern Mastering.” Computer Music, CM212 Jan. 2015) which basically means that the track should sound great and consistent across different playback mechanisms such as home stereo systems, laptops, car stereo systems, and more. I think that mastering is mixing the track as a whole and not necessarily tweaking individual elements within.

So you can see now how important the mixing process is now in comparison to the mastering! Not that one is more important than the other but I must say that when I get a new project put in front of me I can guarantee that I spend 85% of my time mixing the song and 15% mastering, that’s how important mixing is. (Check out my future article on Mixing vs. Mastering)

Back to the beginning, the track that was brought to me via Landr did sound ‘fit for purpose’ but there were elements in the mix that did not sit well at all—certain elements were louder than others, there was no sense of space, etc.—yet I could make no changes because they were set in stone in the stereo master file Sad My advice is to use Landr as a tool to hear your track’s potential. If you’re a great mixer then Landr might be a cheap and easy tool for you but if you’re already dope at mixing I’m sure you could master it yourself for free. And probably even better. Also, the downside of Landr is that your masters are returned as MP3’s unless you pay for the WAV formats. They also limit the amount of free MP3’s you can receive as well. I don’t really see anything wrong with that, who wants to work for free? But the positive side is that the price they charge is super cheap.

The bottom line? Use Landr to get rough, working mixes ready but when you’re ready to release your material to the world get your shit professionally mixed and mastered.
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