Why Real Human Music Mastering is Better Than AI Mastering and VST Plugins
When you’re making music, it can be tempting to try out AI mastering and VST plugins. These tools claim to be the answer to your mastering needs, and they often cost a fraction of what a professional, human mastering engineer charges.
However, there are a few things that AI mastering and VST plugins simply cannot do for you. That’s why it’s important to consider the pros and cons of real human music mastering.
Mastering is the final step in a production process and when it comes to quality you can’t beat a human touch, to get your music over the finish line, sound professional, and translate across the line on everything from your fans’ iPhones – and all the way to that big Funktion-One sound system at the clubs.
Music mastering is an important part of the overall music production process. It helps ensure that the final tracks are ready to be distributed to a variety of music devices, including Spotify and vinyl records.
Traditionally, this has been done by professional engineers who use equalization, compression, harmonic generation and stereo imaging to make the final mix sound as good as possible. It’s a process that requires sharp ears and experience, so it’s best to leave this part of the mastering process to professionals who have been doing it for a long time.
There are a number of online mastering services that load within a web browser. These services are a great way to get your tracks mastered without spending too much money.
Another option is a VST plugin that you can download and run on your computer. These plugins offer a wide range of settings that you can change, and they’re a great choice for artists who want to be able to control their own mastering.
Mastering is a skill that requires years of practice, technical know-how and unique sonic adjustments. When it is done right, masters enhance the sonic, emotional impact and musicality of a track.
As such, it can be difficult to compare AI mastering and VST plugins to real human music mastering. Despite this, it is clear that these technologies can make improvements as they are developed.
Some free online audio mastering tools like Landr and Bandlab use machine learning to mimic the decisions that a real human engineer would make. These services are easy to use and allow you to preview playback of a number of mastering options in seconds before downloading your mastered track in wav or mp3 format.
These tools are a great way to experiment with mastering before hiring a professional, however, they cannot be used for finalising your mix and can often limit the options you have. For example, they may only be able to master to certain loudnesses or EQ curves, which can limit the creative aspect of the process and prevent innovation.
Music mastering is a crucial step in the process of creating a record. It aims to prepare the song for distribution and ensure that it sounds the best possible way on different platforms, such as vinyl records or streaming services.
It can take a lot of creative skill and talent to master a track in a way that makes it sound great. Whether it’s the right EQ curves, loudness levels or stereo width, it’s important to get this step right so that your listeners can hear the song at its best.
In addition to this, a good mastering engineer will also know how to make the right decisions based on the track’s genre and style. For example, hard-hitting electronic music needs a more punchy and energetic tone, while jazz and folk music require a gentler touch.
In contrast, AI mastering can’t quite replicate this sonic magic on its own yet. However, as technology progresses, it’ll become even more effective at creating a professional-sounding master.
A mastering engineer is a trained listener that can spot issues in a track and work to resolve them. They also understand the process of how to make an album sound its best and ensure that the final product is ready for distribution.
Many companies have harnessed AI technology to offer automated mastering services. These include LANDR and Plugin Alliance, who recently announced Mastering Studio.
These services use machine learning algorithms to simulate the decisions of a mastering engineer, focusing on EQ, compression, loudness and more. They are aimed at getting tracks ready for distribution via online platforms and more conventional formats like CDs.
One thing to note about these services is that they aren’t always as good as a real mastering engineer. Some may not be able to hear things that an experienced human mastering engineer can, and other services might run too quickly.
So… is Real Human Music Mastering Actually Better Than AI Mastering and VST Plugins?
When mastering music, there are many factors to take into account. Equalization (EQ), limiting, stereo width and more all need to be tweaked and optimized for optimal sound.
Mastering is the final step before a track or album can be released. This requires considerable skill and expertise, as well as patience.
1. It’s (not always) Faster
Mastering is the practice of eliminating unwanted frequencies and amplifying a track’s loudness. It also ensures that tracks sound consistent across different devices and streaming platforms.
Mastering may not be the most complex part of music production, but it still requires time and expertise to do it correctly. It’s an essential step in delivering professional-sounding recordings to listeners.
Thankfully, artists and musicians who want to master their own tracks without hiring a professional engineer now have several options at their disposal. AI-based services are fast and cost effective, making them attractive options even for newer creators.
2. It’s (not always) More Affordable
Mastering is an integral step of the music production process. It ensures your track sounds polished and ready for distribution.
Additionally, mixing ensures your song has a unified sound that accurately conveys the emotional impact of your mix.
A human mastering engineer can make subtle adjustments to tape saturation, soft distortion, gain staging and more to give your song its distinctive sound and emotional impact.
Unfortunately, AI-driven mastering systems are still unable to achieve this level of artistic precision. While they may be able to adjust their processing based on your mix, it won’t be nearly as efficient as having human mastering engineers do this manually.
3. It’s (not always) More Creative
Mastering is an artistic process in the music industry that necessitates advanced listening abilities. Unfortunately, mastering can take a significant amount of time and money to complete; additionally, it’s often quite expensive.
Today, there are various music mastering services to choose from. One popular option is AI mastering, which utilizes artificial intelligence to mimic the decisions an engineer would make during mastering.
This process provides faster and more affordable mastering, but it cannot match the level of creativity a real human engineer can provide. That is why many audio mastering engineers still opt to hire actual humans to polish their tracks.
They also have access to a lot of tools and equipment that other mastering professionals do not. For example, they test the music on different earbuds, headphones, speakers, and more to ensure that it sounds good on all of them. This means that they can use methods that will work for each format and give the music the best possible sound.
4. It’s (not always) More Versatile
The mastering stage is one of the most crucial in music production. It aims to enhance your tracks’ sonics, emotional impact and musicality for listeners, creating an enhanced overall experience.
Professional human engineers offer many advantages, such as their personal touch and artistic vision. However, AI-based mastering services may be suitable for certain artists and tracks.
AI mastering tools have become a go-to alternative to traditional studios, offering quick track calculations and accurate results. While they cannot yet match the customization and mastering potential that an experienced human can provide, these budget friendly options still provide artists with valuable options on a tight budget.
5. It’s (not always) More Efficient
Human mastering engineers use their ears and expertise to make deliberate corrections, focus on specific styles, and work on particular sounds. This enables them to craft masters that reflect the artist’s artistic vision and desired outcome.
AI and VST plugins are useful for automating many audio processes that mastering engineers do, but they don’t replace human expertise; rather, they serve to make these processes more efficient.
The future of mastering is dependent on people and their creativity, though a combination of AI and traditional mastering tools may be the best approach for certain projects. Ultimately, it comes down to what works best for the artist and their budget; therefore, you may need to experiment with different methods until finding one that works best for your requirements.