So, you’re ready to master your song! After mixing, mastering is the final step in the music production process that will prepare your track for distribution – ensuring it sounds flawless across a variety of audio systems. But here’s the deal: mastering involves a deep understanding of specific software and tools that budding producers may not be familiar with. 

Instead of shelling out big bucks to hire an experienced engineer, a faster and more cost-effective move would be to use online mastering tools to finesse your mix. But can these tools hold their own against the traditional mastering method? Let’s find out.

What is online mastering? 

Online mastering speeds up the process by enabling easy access over the internet. Once you upload your audio files to an online mastering service, a professional mastering engineer will work on the audio, providing you with the final masters digitally. In some cases, an algorithm or presets are used in place of the mastering engineer. If you lack access to a mastering studio or the resources to pay for traditional mastering, online mastering is a convenient and accessible option.

Our free online mastering service, BandLab Mastering, leverages professionally-crafted presets to polish your mix. Once your file is uploaded on the platform, you can choose the right preset to optimize your track’s audio instantly. It’s a quick and easy way to prime your mix for radio play, or distribution on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

Traditional mastering vs. online mastering 

Let’s dive into the differences between traditional mastering and online mastering. 

Traditional mastering is characterized by a hands-on, physical approach, involving essential elements such as soundproof studios, specialized analog and digital equipment, and high-quality audio processors, equalizers, and compressors. Mastery of the equipment is necessary, demanding an investment of time to operate it effectively.

If you lack the knowledge or space for this setup, an alternative is hiring a professional mastering engineer – though this can be pricey. The perk is that you get real-time collaboration in the studio. That means instant feedback and a say in how your music should sound in the end.

Online mastering boasts its own set of advantages. Accessibility is a key factor, breaking down geographical barriers and making it a valuable option for artists and producers worldwide. Not to mention, this process enables the mastering of a track in a matter of seconds. Simply upload your tunes, specify preferences, and receive the electronically mastered files – super ideal for time-sensitive situations like landing a gig, or sending off a demo.

If you’re a budget-conscious producer, this method is also appealing because it eliminates the overhead costs tied to maintaining a traditional studio or hiring an expert. 

What does an online mastered track sound like?

Keen to experience the effects of online mastering on a track? Here’s what it sounds like before being put through BandLab’s free online mastering tool:

And here’s the transformed result:

Check out how it stacks up against the traditional mastering approach:

Mastering online with BandLab’s presets

Mixing and mastering are two key steps you can’t miss out on if you’re planning on releasing a polished track. Once you’ve managed to achieve a well-balanced sound through mixing, give online mastering a try. Pop your song in BandLab Mastering – our free online service offering four presets designed with top-tier artists and engineers, including Grammy-winning multi-platinum collaborators. This service isn’t confined to audio files; it also masters the audio in video files.

Simply drag and upload your track into the provided space, choose from presets like Universal, Fire, Clarity, and Tape, and let the algorithm handle the processing of your mix. When you’re pleased with the outcome, go ahead and download the track!

So, is online mastering worth it?

There’s no denying that online mastering is a great tool, especially for new musicians finding their way in the music scene. If you’re low on budget, still learning how to master your song, or just want to skip the complexities, this mastering method is for you. It’s also super handy when you need to throw together a quick demo, and need fast and decent results to score a gig or catch a record label’s eye

Although, while online mastering services that use presets and algorithms streamline the process, it might lack the precision and intuitive touch that a human engineer brings to the table.

The bottom line is: online mastering is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Your decision rests on your own specific needs. If your project demands an individualized touch, collaboration with a human engineer is a more strategic choice to add a personal touch to your music. However, if you need instant, reliable, and free mastering, BandLab Mastering is for you. 

Ultimately, you should choose the mastering method that lets your artistic vision shine. In the meantime, polish a few songs with the help of BandLab Mastering to get started right away!