Online mastering services: Reviewing the top 11 services in 2021 (including audio samples)

Whether you’re new to recording or a seasoned veteran, it’s likely you’ve come across online mastering services such as Landr, EmasteredBandlabCloudbounce and more.

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.

So are these services any good? Do you really need a mastering engineer or can a computer handle your track?

Well to find out, I tested out 11 of the best algorithm-based online mastering services to bring you an honest look at what you may be able to get for yourself – and when it’s worth trying one of these services versus going with a mastering engineer.

 

  1. Landr review
  2. eMastered review
  3. BandLab review 
  4. CloudBounce review
  5. Chosen Masters review
  6. Major Decibel review
  7. Aria Mastering review
  8. Maztr review
  9. Mastering Box review
  10. Schnalz review
  11. SoundCloud review 

Want the short answer? Jump straight to the final verdict.

 

For this exercise I uploaded the exact same song to all services. The song is called Cynical and it was produced and mixed by Caleb Owen. I chose this mix because it’s well balanced and didn’t have any overall problems. For comparison purposes I have created two versions of the same files, the original as received/downloaded from the AI mastering services and one that is level matched with the original mix at -14LUFS. I’ve done the level match so we don’t get deceived by loudness (it’s a proven fact that a louder song always sounds better than a quiet version of the same). Files have been converted to MP3 for web speed purposes but you can find the same full comparison at full resolution (wav 44.1k) on this link. For the purposes of this test, I left all the AI mastering settings at its default setting. 

Hope you find it useful. If you have any questions, please get in touch and I’d be happy to help. If you’d like to see how your track sounds and compares to an algorithm-based service, request your free mastering sample here.

1. Landr mastering review

Launched in 2014, Landr is a creative platform that provides AI powered mastering, distribution, plugins and promotion packs.

Easy to use

It was very simple to create an account and upload your track. Once you started mastering, the mastering process itself was fast, only taking about 2 to 3 minutes. Once the track was mastered you could also easily preview the mastered track and compare it with the original, however, this was only available for a snippet of the track – not the whole track.
Preview of online master - Landr
Landr's Preview feature

customisable

Another pro is that there were quite a few options available to customise and tailor the mastering. For instance, you could change the master’s style (warm, balanced, open), as well as intensity (low, medium, high). You also could upload a reference track. For the purposes of this test, I left everything to its default setting.

Screenshot of Landr's online mastering platform
Options for customising your master - Landr

Can do album mastering

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. 

A little bit pricey

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 standard deliverables. Here’s a summary of their payment options (as at December 2020):

Pricing Table - Landr Mastering
Landr Online Mastering Pricing Table (current as at Dec 2020)

allows you to upload an mp3

Landr allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

No level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

How does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Landr:

LANDR
Caleb Owens - Cynical
LANDR (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

2. emastered mastering review

Similar to Landr, emastered is one of the major algorithm based online mastering services out there. It was founded by  Grammy Winning Co Founder Smith Carlson.  

Easy to use

It was very simple to upload the track – no sign up needed to get started.
Preview of emastered track upload
eMastered's track upload interface
Once you started mastering, the mastering process itself was fast, only taking about 2 to 3 minutes. Once the track was mastered you could also easily preview the mastered track and compare it with the original. Unlike Landr, you can listen to your whole track, not just a snippet.
Before and after player emastered
You can listen to your entire mastered track with eMastered

customisable

Another pro is that there were quite a few options available to customise the mastering including: compressor intensity, mastering strength, stereo width, volume, equalisation. These settings can be saved as presets  good option if you’re mastering several tracks through the platform.

Emastered - customisation options
eMastered's customisation options

No extra costs for downloading HD WAvs

Unlike Landr, there was no extra cost to download HD WAVs.

Affordable

Very affordable service, particularly if you have several tracks you would like to master, as they offer unlimited masters. 

eMastered Pricing Options
eMastered Pricing Options as at December 2020

Can’t buy a track one-off

Need to sign up to a plan to use the service. However, they do offer a 14-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.

No album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering a album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

eMastered allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with eMastered:

eMastered
Caleb Owens - Cynical
eMastered (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

3. bandlab mastering review

BandLab is a social music platform that in 2016 added a free automated online mastering service.

Easy to use and very fast

It was very simple to upload the track – no sign up needed to get started. Once you started mastering, the mastering process itself was very fast, only taking about 20 seconds.
 
BandLab online mastering
BandLab Song Upload Interface

customisable

Though there were slightly less options for customisation compared to eMastered, BandLab still offered some settings you could choose depending on your preferences. This included: CD Quality, Bass Boost and Enhance Clarity. Once the track was mastered you could also easily preview the mastered track and compare it with the original. Unlike Landr, you can listen to your whole track, not just a snippet.

BandLab Customisation Options
BandLab Customisation Options

Free!

Band lab is completely free. This is quite good if you just want to test out the service with no commitment and see what mastering could do for your track. 

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering a album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

BandLab allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with BandLab:

BandLab
Caleb Owens - Cynical
BandLab (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

4. cloudbounce mastering review

Since 2016, CloudBounce, based out of Finland and the UK, has provided instant online mastering services. 

Easy to use

Similar to other services, it was very simple to upload the track – no sign up needed to get started. It only took 2-3 minutes in total to master the track. Once the track was mastered you could also easily preview the mastered track and compare it with the original. Unlike Landr, you can listen to your whole track, not just a snippet.
CloudBounce Online Mastering Interface
CloudBounce Interface

customisable

Lots of options to customise the master based on genre. 

CloudBounce Customisability
CloudBounce's options for customising the master

affordable

CloudBounce is definitely affordable, with plans available from just $19.90 per month. This is a good option if you have lots of tracks you plan on releasing regularly. Another bonus is that you can buy tracks one-off for $9.95 per track. 

Cloud Bounce Pricing
CloudBounce Pricing as at December 2020

only 7 days to download the track

If you buy a track one off, you only have 7 days to download the track, otherwise it’ll be deleted. This likely won’t be an issue for most people, but something to keep in mind.

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering a album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

CloudBounce allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with CloudBounce:

CloudBounce
Caleb Owens - Cynical
CloudBounce (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

5. chosen masters review

Based out of Vancouver, Chosen Masters describes itself as a semi-automated, professional grade online audio mastering tool that adds colour, warmth and brilliance to your tracks. 

Easy to use

Similar to other services, it was very simple to upload the track – no sign up needed to get started. You can even upload your track directly from Dropbox. Very fast service  only took 2-4 minutes in total to master the track. They also have a user tutorial which takes you through all the features.
Chosen Masters Online Mastering Tutorial
Chosen Masters' Tutorial

affordable

Very similar pricing to CloudBounce and definitely affordable, with plans available from just $19.90 per month. This is a good option if you have lots of tracks you plan on releasing regularly. Another bonus is that you can buy tracks one-off for $9.99 per track. 

Chosen Masters Pricing
Chosen Masters' Pricing

customisable

There were slightly less options to customise the master based on your preferences, but still some options available including: dynamic, balanced and powerful. 

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering a album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

Although Chosen Masters flags in their tutorial that they recommend 32 bit WAV uploads, they still don’t stop you from uploading mp3s!

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Chosen Masters:

 

Chosen Masters
Caleb Owens - Cynical
Chosen Masters (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

6. Major Decibel mastering review

Major Decibel is an independently owned  and operated automated online mastering service that launched its Mastering Engine 2.0 in 2018. 

Easy to use

Similar to other services, it was very simple to upload the track – no sign up needed to get started. Very fast service  only took 3-4 minutes in total to master the track. 
Major Decibel Online Mastering
Major Decibel's song upload portal

can master two tracks for free per month

This is one of the most affordable platforms – you can get two tracks for free per month and a yearly subscription for just $25.  However, it’s worth noting you can only download MP3s with the free account. 

Major Decibel Online Mastering Pricing
Major Decibel's pricing

Customisable

Though there are less options to customise than other mastering platforms, you can still choose between low, medium and high mastering intensity. There is also a before/after player to allow you to compare the results. 

Major Decibel Mastering Intensity Options
Major Decibel's mastering intensity options

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering an album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

Although Major Decibel recommends you upload your track in WAV format, they still don’t stop you from uploading mp3s!

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Major Decibel:

Major Decibel
Caleb Owens - Cynical
Major Decibel (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

7. aria mastering review

Aria Mastering is an automated analog online mastering service that was built by mastering engineer, Colin Leonard.

A little slower than other mastering platforms but overall quite fast

It took about 2 minutes to upload the track and another 5 minutes for the mastering process, which was a little slower than the other platforms we tried.

customisable

Aria Mastering provided a lot of options for customising the track. When uploading the track you can choose the mix type,  and customise settings such as low frequency, high frequency, width and output level. You can also choose a specific LUFS when exporting the track (at extra cost). 

Aria Mastering Online Mastering Options
Aria Mastering Customisation Options
Aria Mastering Export Options
Aria Mastering Export Options

Process a little cumbersome

Compared to other services, there were more steps to get started i.e. you need to register an account, confirm email, and log into the account before you can start mastering. 

need to pay before you can hear the full mastered track

Unfortunately, you can only preview for free 15 seconds of the mastered track. 

Aria Mastering Preview
Aria Mastering Preview Options

cost

Out of all the options we compared, Aria Mastering was the most expensive service. There was also an extra fee for downloading high quality files. 

Aria Mastering Pricing
Aria Mastering Pricing Options

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering an album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

Aria Mastering allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Aria Mastering:

Aria Mastering
Caleb Owens - Cynical
Aria Mastering (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

8. maztr review

Established in 2016, Maztr was set up by a group of audio engineers and musicians who saw the need to help the home recording artist master songs and podcasts in the cloud.

Easy to use

Similar to other services, it was very simple to upload the track – no sign up needed to get started. Very fast service  only took 2 minutes in total to master the track. 
 
Very customisable
Out of all platforms, Maztr provided the most choice for customisation. You can make minor adjustments based on the below:
Maztr Online Mastering Customisation Options
Maztr Customisation options

or you can use the advanced customisation which allows you to tweak the below settings:

Maztr Online Mastering Advanced Customisation
Maztr advanced customisation options

very affordable and have a free plan too

Maztr offer a free plan, allowing you to master unlimited tracks for free! However, you can only download low-res tracks ($4.99 for each HDWAV track). Paid plans which include high res formats are very affordable, starting at $9.99 per month. 

Maztr Online Mastering Prices
Maztr pricing

No before and after comparison

Maztr don’t offer a before/after player allowing you to compare the mastered version versus the original. 

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering an album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

Maztr allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Maztr:

MAZTR
Caleb Owens - Cynical
MAZTR (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

9. mastering box review

 

Mastering box is a drag and drop online mastering service that uses artificial intelligence to master a song.

Customisable

Though there are less options to customise than other mastering platforms, you can still customise the loudness and EQ. There is also a before/after player to allow you to compare the results. 
Mastering Box Customisation
Mastering Box Customisation

 

Very quick

It took only 2 minutes to master in total. One of the fastest services – only taking two minutes to master in total. 
 
affordable 
Mastering Box offers free masters (you can only download MP3s though).  Otherwise, you can purchase WAVs and HD WAVs for a one off price, as well as subscribe to a regular service. Pricing in line with similar services. 
Mastering Box One Off Prices
Mastering Box One Off Prices
Mastering Box Subscription Prices
Mastering Box Subscription Prices

process a little cumbersome

Compared to other services, there were more steps to get started i.e. you need to register an account, confirm email, and log into the account before you can start mastering. 

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering a album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

Mastering Box allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Mastering Box:

MasteringBox
Caleb Owens - Cynical
MasteringBox (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

10. schnalz mastering review

 

Established in 2019,  Schnalz is an online mastering service that was created by a dedicated team of music enthusiasts.

Customisable

Though there are less options to customise than other mastering platforms, you can still customise the intensity, and settings such as bass, treble and width.  
Scnalz Online Master customisation
Schnalz customisation options

 

Can compare two different masters

Scnalz allows you to try two different masters and compare the difference. This is a great feature for determining what settings work best for your track. 
schnalz online mastering ab player
Schnalz before and after player

 

free!

Schnalz is completely free. This is quite good if you just want to test out the service with no commitment and see what mastering could do for your track. You also have the option to make a donation. 

 
Schnalz online mastering
Schnalz pricing

 a little bit slower than other services

Compared to other platforms, Schnalz was the slowest  taking us 8 minutes just to upload the track.

process a little cumbersome

Compared to other services, there were more steps to get started i.e. you need to register an account, confirm email, and log into the account before you can start mastering. 

no album mastering service

Unlike Landr, there’s currently no option for mastering a album. This is a big drawback if you have an EP or album that needs mastering, as you need to ensure consistency between tracks. 

allows you to upload an mp3

Schnalz allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with Schnalz:

Schnalz
Caleb Owens - Cynical
Schnalz (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

11. soundcloud mastering review

Powered by Dolby, Soundcloud’s online mastering service allows you to master your track directly within SoundCloud’s platform.

Customisable

Though there are less options to customise than other mastering platforms, you can still customise the intensity, and choose between four different mastering styles Thunder, Sunroof, Aurora and Clear Sky. For the purposes of this test, we chose Sunroof. 
 
SoundCloud Mastering Options
SoundCloud Mastering Customisation Options

can do album mastering

This is a big plus for SoundCloud, 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. 

affordable

To get access to the mastering service, you need to sign up to Pro Unlimited which is around $10 per month. As part of this, you get 3 free masters and $3.99 per master thereafter. 

need to sign up to sound cloud to get access to mastering

At the time of writing, there’s no way to try the mastering service without signing up to SoundCloud’s platform overall.

allows you to upload an mp3

SoundCloud allows you to upload an mp3 when mastering your track, even though this is something definitely not recommended due to lower quality. It’s surprising that there are no warning signs or notifications telling you not to do that! 

no level matched loudness option for before and after comparison 

There is no option 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 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. 

how does the sound compare?

Here’s how the track turned out with SoundCloud:

Soundcloud
Caleb Owens - Cynical
Soundcloud (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical

Final verdict

when to choose an online mastering service

Algorithm-based online mastering services may have some drawbacks, but when you’re pressed for time, they often can’t be beaten. This is because many algorithm-based mastering services can process tracks within minutes since there isn’t an in-depth review involved.

Algorithm-based mastering can also come in handy when you simply want to get a glimpse at the potential for your track or when you want to check a mix against standardized processing. You may have a quick demo mix that you think sounds good, and perhaps you just want to add some overall compression and limiting to get that “radio sound” through a volume boost.

Basically, algorithm-based online mastering services are often the go-to choice for musicians who want a preview of how good their tracks can sound in the mastering process. These services are often a good stepping stone on the musical journey between a rough mix and a radio-ready track.

when to choose a mastering engineer

In most cases, you’ll want to work with a mastering engineer when you need to ensure that your music will be treated with personal attention. Working directly with a mastering engineer gives you the chance to set expectations regarding what you want to get out of the final result, and your engineer can make changes based on these expectations.

A mastering engineer can also make specific adjustments after the fact. This is a benefit that often isn’t available through algorithm-based online mastering services simply because no actual human is listening. Working with a mastering engineer gives you more control over the final product, and this can go a long way in allowing you to have more freedom to express your art.

so what’s best for your music?

 When deciding on whether to work with a mastering engineer or go with an algorithm-based service, it really comes down to how much control you want to have over your own music. An algorithm-based online mastering service may be faster and less expensive, but these services do tend to work by applying a rubber stamp to each track because no one is actually listening.

 When you partner with a professional mastering engineer, you’ll receive the personal attention your music deserves, as well as the experience and specialized equipment that come along with a mastering engineer’s touch. Additionally, a mastering engineer will be far more likely to be able to offer the ability to make changes to a master after the first pass, giving you more freedom in getting the sound you’re after.

Hope you found the reviews useful. If you have any questions, please get in touch and I’d be happy to help. If you’d like to see how your track sounds and compares to an algorithm-based service, request your free mastering sample here. 

 

P.S. here’s the final master Caleb and I worked on. If you enjoyed Caleb’s music, you can listen and buy his EP on Apple Music here.

Cefe Flynn Mastering
Caleb Owens - Cynical
Cefe Flynn Mastering (-14LUFS)
Caleb Owens - Cynical