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  • Automated Mastering

    The process of auotmated mastering seemed to have started about the middle of last year (2016). Go to a web site, upload your mix, and have it mastered using a special 'algorithm'. Services such as LANDR (https://www.landr.com/) and Mastering (https://www.bandlab.com/mastering) allow you to 'adjust' how you want your music to sound, using some pretty broad categories. Now there is a new one on the block called "Matchering (https://sound.tools/matchering/). What is different here is that instead of selecting a category, you upload a reference track. It is supposed to analyze the reference track and apply that track's 'mastering' settings to your track. The site is currently in BETA and is an invitation only basis right now.

    We just recently had the discussion on "Are plug-ins are overrated." Is this the next new 'plug-in' fad? And is it likely to run the same course as its 'plug-in' cousins?

    And on a side note - could uploading a reference track to a third party be a violation of copyright? Does applying a mastering scheme copied off of another copyrighted reference music track, without the reference track copyright owner's permission, violate their copyright as well?

    (Is it just me, or is this starting to sound like a soap opera?)
    The Mandolin Picker

    "Bless your hearts... and all your vital organs" - John Duffy

    "Got time to breath, got time for music!"- Briscoe Darling, Jr.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Mandolin Picker View Post
    We just recently had the discussion on "Are plug-ins are overrated." Is this the next new 'plug-in' fad? And is it likely to run the same course as its 'plug-in' cousins?
    Possibly in the short term... but in the long run, I am expecting AI to become better and better, and for such tools to increase in their capabilites to the point where they supplant humans in all kinds of fields - engineering and mastering included. Programs like these, or Izotope's Neutron are just the beginning...

    And on a side note - could uploading a reference track to a third party be a violation of copyright?
    Probably not, as long as it's not being distributed to others besides the mastering company, where it's merely submitted as an example. Engineers get played example tracks as points of reference all the time. I suspect it would fall under "fair use", but I'm not a lawyer, so I can't say for sure either way.

    Does applying a mastering scheme copied off of another copyrighted reference music track, without the reference track copyright owner's permission, violate their copyright as well?
    Again, I really doubt it. Har-Bal has been able to do something similar with EQ curves for quite some time... but the thing is, the EQ from one track doesn't automatically work well with a different track beyond just a point of reference and comparison - as a starting point. Besides, the program itself is probably using different tools (not the same compressor and EQ used for the original mastering), so it's really not "the same", although they're obviously shooting for similar sounding results.



    **********

    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

    - George Carlin

    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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    • #3
      Hmmm, I don`t doubt the algorithms with improve over time but mastering really is dependent upon a lot of EQ adjustments so unless a track matches the uploaded reference track, I`m not sure how affective the mastering process will be.

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      • #4
        There have been a lot of times when an artist relied not only my engineering chops, but value judgments...like "this song would be better if you cut the intro in half, and boosted the level of the snare hit that goes into the chorus by 3 dB. Also, you might want to speed up the whole thing by 1%." I don't see any algorithm being able to do that, but often, those decisions are what make or break a mastering job.
        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • #5
          I'm at CES to look at all the things that I can talk to, things that talk to me, and things that talk to each other and don't bother me, Last night I went to a reception for the AfterMaster folks, and I got a run-through of their ProMaster on-line mastering process. I think this is something that's worth a try. Briefly, it's a version of Shelly's favorite mastering chain with some smarts to make the kind of adjustments that he might make when mastering a mix. It's basically dynamics control. I don't think there's any EQ involved, but I might have missed that. They aren't very open about how it actually works until their patent gets registered, but I think they know enough to not bugger the music.

          Shelly suggested sending in your source at a few different levels. They've found that, within reason anyway, more headroom gets better results. Also, they send you back four different versions of your master. If you like any of them and pay the ten bucks, they send you all four, so you can try Craig's trick of combining different mastered versions.

          --
          "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
          Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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          • #6
            I've got huge respect for Shelly's engineering abilities. That actually sounds interesting - thanks for posting the information Mike!
            **********

            "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

            - George Carlin

            "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

            - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

            "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

            - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

            Comment


            • #7
              I think that online automated mastering is going to have a short shelf life. Individual plug-ins will do more automation, like Sonible's frei:raum. Multiband compressors and maximizers will also "suggest" settings. iZotope is heading in that direction with Neutron as well. So I can picture the recording person of the future having a two-track, some plug-ins and choosing a combination of "intelligent" presets from each plug-in.
              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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