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Written by Ramsey Brown.
If you are a seasoned music producer or engineer, you know that the process of mixing and mastering is what truly makes or breaks the success of a track. For those who don’t know, mastering is the final stage of audio production —the process of putting the finishing touches on a song by enhancing the overall sound.
Aside from some people’s beliefs, mastering is a necessary part of having a high-quality and successful track. Audio engineers take several years to perfect the art of mastering and the average producer isn’t typically able to master their own tracks alone. Which is exactly why the need for proper mastering services is so common within the music industry.
Getting your tracks properly mixed and mastered can often be extensive and time consuming. Aside from that, it can also be difficult to find a professional and trustworthy engineer whose production style aligns with your own.
There are many audio engineers and mastering services out there for hire, but how is an artist supposed to know the quality of their work or their reputability prior to spending hundreds of dollars with them? Well, that's precisely where Soundcloud’s very own mastering service comes into play.
You’re familiar with Soundcloud as a streaming service, but what many don’t know is that SoundCloud now offers mastering, powered by Dolby, to all it’s users. In this review, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about Soundcloud Mastering including features, techniques, pricing, pros, cons, and everything in between.
If your song is needing that final, clean and polished sound, keep reading to see if Soundcloud’s new and innovative mastering service is right for you.
SoundCloud Mastering is an audio mastering technology that gives musicians access to an innovative and intelligent way to finalize their music tracks before release. Powered by Dolby, an iconic pioneer in the surround sound and audio technology game — this partnership has set out to bring musicians an advanced audio production tool to create a dynamic sound experience at an affordable cost.
Dolby uses artificial intelligence combined with thousands of hours of music analysis to replicate the working process of a professional engineer.
“By critically listening to your music the way an engineer does — identifying the details, the unique sections, and musical transitions that give your song its unique story arc — the audio technology preserves your original intent while delivering a final track that sounds wide, powerful and ready for streaming playback wherever it goes.” - Soundcloud
The technique of mastering is incredibly essential before you release music. It fine-tunes loudness, EQ levels and overall clarity of your track to create a balanced and full sound. This ensures the song sounds consistent and clean throughout any speaker, radio, headphone set, or sound system it is played on.
This trailblazing technology is by far one of the best in terms of audio mastering technology.
What’s great about Soundcloud’s new Mastering service is that the tool is available right there on the website, in the same place where you would upload your tracks to the platform.
To get started, just click on the upload button on Soundcloud like you normally would. Once your audio is uploaded, you’ll see a new ‘Master Track’ button.
Soundcloud offers the option to sample and hear a free preview of a mastered version of the track you upload. This is sort of like a ‘try before you buy’ option. You’ll select a portion of the song you want to hear the master of, then within a few minutes, the finalized mastered portion of your song will be ready to listen to. This allows the artists to listen back and forth between the original upload and the master version, which lets you clearly hear the difference between the two.
But, it doesn’t just stop there. The service allows you to customize the master to your liking with various presets and profiles of your choice. This detailed “sonic map” is then used to sculpt the tone and overall dynamic of your mix while prioritizing your creative intent.
There are four different mastering style presets you choose from, that we will discuss in detail below:
Because mastering can be very subjective, there are four different sonic options for users to choose from to ensure their audio style and preferences are met. On the main mastering page, you will find the four different presets that can be applied to your audio master:
This preset will make your track sound fuller by enhancing the bass and minimizing the muddiness of the audio. This option is designed primarily for pop songs, although it could also be useful for other genres as well. It gives your mix a lighter feel and wavy feel while keeping the bass frequencies under control.
If your tracks aren't heavy on bass and you want to add that extra bass frequency, this preset will bring them out. Sometimes this preset will sacrifice the highs on your track, which is what the next preset is good for leveling out…
If your music is beat-driven or more specifically in the genre of hip-hop, the preset is great to use for accentuating midrange and high frequencies.
If you're experimenting with ambient tracks and looking for a light and airy sonic feel, then you should definitely think of going with the Aurora preset.
Once you have your track uploaded and mastered to your sonic preference, the next step is to pay for the final mastered version of your song. There are a few different price hierarchies that Soundcloud mastering offers, depending on the level of subscription you have with the streaming service.
Soundcloud Pro subscribers can access the mastering service for $3.99 per master and receive 3 free masters every month.
For those with a Basic Soundcloud Membership (free), the price per master costs $4.99 per single track.
Soundcloud Pro: $7/month
Soundcloud Pro Unlimited: $15/month
Depending on how much music you produce and plan to upload, a Soundcloud Pro membership could end up saving you a decent amount of money in the long run. For more information on the different features and benefits of the Soundcloud Pro and Soundcloud Pro Unlimited memberships, check out this article.
Just like any service, there are always some pros and cons to consider before committing to buying. Below we are going to list some of the biggest benefits and downfalls of Soundcloud’s Mastering service, so that you can make the most informed decision on what’s best for your music.
Affordable Pricing - SoundCloud's Mastering technology is extremely well priced. Enough so that any artist of any budget can use it. You'd expect the cost to be premium considering the quality of the service, but at the max of only $5 per track, it is one of the most competitive priced mastering options on the web today.
Multiple File Types - SoundCloud Mastering can actually accept multiple types of audio files. Whether you have a WAV, FLEC, MP3, OR AIFF audio file, you're going to easily be able to have it uploaded and mastered, ready for release on your Soundcloud page.
Easy to Use - As we said before, SoundCloud Mastering comes with a very easy to use interface that isn't at all complex. With a few simple clicks on their webpage, your song will be mastered to your liking and release ready in the matter of minutes.
No Human Touch - Despite the SoundCloud Mastering tool being incredibly convenient and it's ability to produce the same high quality results as a hands on engineer would, it still lacks the same finesse a physical engineer would be able to provide the track. Technology still comes with its flaws at the end of the day. Therefore, the level of the Soundcloud mastered track could potentially be a bit lower than a proper audio engineer could deliver.
Track Length Limit - SoundCloud only allows tracks under 10 minutes to be mastered with their Dolby Mastering service. If tracks exceed the limit, you'll have to go through a long emailing process to get it approved.
SoundCloud Mastering powered by Dolby is a really simple and easy to use high-quality music mastering technology. Best of all, it is extremely affordable and accessible to anyone. You're going to be able to make amazing songs and master them to perfection using SoundCloud Mastering. This is a service we highly recommend for anyone looking to take their music production or sound design to the next level!
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What differs Soundcloud Mastering from an ordinary EQ preset? Since it seems to work with a single sound file it can at least not separate and process individual instrument tracks. I’m curious 🙂
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© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2023 Omari MC, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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