So eMastered vs Landr – how do they compare?
Emastered and Landr are two of the biggest algorithm-based online mastering services available today. These platforms use an algorithm to master tracks – meaning your music will typically not be heard by human ears – instead your track is run through some software that automatically makes adjustments to volume, compression and EQ based on a formula the algorithm applies.
Though you’re likely to get the best results when getting your track mastered by a mastering engineer, these services can still be a good option particularly if you’re pressed for time or simply want to get a glimpse at the potential for your track with mastering.
In this article, I take an honest look at each service to help you decide which one might be right for you. I’ll cover:
Platform – ease of use
Both eMastered vs Landr were very simple and easy to use. Only difference is that Landr required you to set up an account before you could upload your track, while eMastered allowed you to upload a track directly.
Both were very quick, only taking 2-3 minutes to master the track. This is a key pro of online mastering services.
I would say eMastered had slightly better preview features, mainly because you could preview the entire track not just a snippet (which was the case in Landr).
However, there was no option with either service to listen to a level matched track before and after mastering. This is very important to hear the exact changes happening during mastering and if the song actually sounds better or not! Without level matched comparison more often than not the louder version will always be perceived as better sounding, but this might not be the case. You can hear this in the below example I’ve prepared with the level matched versions at -14LUFS for both services.
Options for customisation
Both services allowed for customisation, but eMastered had slightly more options.
Landr allows you to change the master’s style (warm, balanced open), as well as intensity (low, medium, high).
eMastered allows you to customise the following: compressor intensity, mastering strength, stereo width, volume and equalisation. These settings could be saved as presets – good option if you’re mastering several tracks through the platform.
This is a big plus for Landr, as at the time of writing it’s one of the only services that allows for album mastering i.e. it checks for consistency between tracks. We didn’t test this out, as we just did one track, but it’s good to know it has this feature.
Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering an album in eMastered. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks.
Landr was not as cheap as some of the other AI online mastering services. If you’re just looking for a very quick and dirty master at low res (Lo-MP3) the basic plan is quite affordable. However, if you’re looking for higher quality files (HD WAV which is necessary for many streaming sites), Landr isn’t that much cheaper than going to a professional mastering engineer (assuming you produce/release one track a month). And it’s without the support and opportunity for revision, personalisation and mix feedback that you’d get from working with a professional mastering engineer.
Also, if you need different versions of the same track, you need to pay extra for each file which hikes up the cost. Compare this to a mastering engineer, where you’d get HD WAV files and mp3s as part of the standard deliverables. Here’s a summary of their payment options (as at December 2020):
eMastered on the other hand was a very affordable service, particularly if you have several tracks you would like to master, as they offer unlimited masters. However, you need to sign up to a plan to use the service, which isn’t ideal if you’re just looking for a one-off master.
However, they do offer a 14-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.
Here are the results we had from the track we uploaded. I’ve included the original version mix vs mastered version as well as the Mix and Masters level matched at -14LUFS.
Now for easy comparison you can listen to and A/B the track’s mastered version by eMastered vs Landr. I’m sure you can draw you own conclusion as to what sound you prefer. In this case, I prefer Landr’s sound over eMastered’s. I think the stereo image is more focused, the low frequencies hold better and the top frequencies are more open and less harsh. There isn’t a massive difference between the two services to be honest as you can hear yourself on the level matched tracks, these services don’t change the overall frequency balance too much, but mostly increase the overall loudness. As I mentioned before, I think level match is fundamental to be able to really appreciate if these services are providing a real benefit to your mix or not.
Both platforms were easy to use. eMastered provided slightly more customisation options, had better preview features and was more affordable. However, you need to lock into a plan.
If you’re looking at just mastering one track, then I’d definitely recommend Landr, as this allows you to buy a track one off rather than eMastered. However, with the cost it’s actually not that much cheaper than a mastering engineer, which you may as well do.
But if you’re looking at the most affordable service overall, and don’t mind the quality, then eMastered is the way to go.