Is LANDR Mastering Any Good? The Surprising Truth…


LANDR offers automated online mastering at a fraction of the cost of hiring a pro. But is it any good? I compared it with a Grammy-winning mastering engineer to find out. Keep watching to hear the surprising results.

Hey, this is Jason Moss from BehindTheSpeakers.com, and today we’re going to take an in-depth look at LANDR. So, if you’ve been thinking about using LANDR to master your tracks, this video is going to help you decide whether or not this is a good choice for your music.

Now before we dive in, if you’re looking for more, I also put together a free pre-mastering checklist. So, this checklist will help you prepare your tracks for mastering, whether you’re sending them to LANDR, or another online service, or a pro engineer, just to make sure you get the most out of the mastering process. So, to download this, just click the link in the description below or in the video, and you’ll get free instant access.

Now, if you’ve never heard of LANDR before, it’s basically an online, automated mastering service. So, it doesn’t use human beings on the back end; it’s driven by an algorithm. You basically upload your tracks to this service and it automatically masters them, and then it allows you to download them instantly. And, I wanted to just try it out and see how it compared to the kind of tried and true approach of hiring a mastering engineer like I’ve been doing for years.

So what I did was, I took a mix that I recently did for one of my clients, Leah Capelle. And actually, this mix was mastered by an incredible mastering engineer, Howie Weinberg. And so I had him master this, and then I also sent the same mix to LANDR. And so I brought everything into my DAW, and level-matched it all, and we’re going to jump in and I just want to compare everything so you can get a sense for what the differences are between my original mix, and Howie’s master, and then the LANDR version of the mastered mix. So let’s take a look.

Okay, so we have a couple different versions of a song here called “Joshua,” by artist Leah Capelle. And if you take a look, you’ll see we have my original mix; so this is basically my finished mix before it was mastered. Then we have Howie Weinberg’s mastered version of that original mix. And then we have the LANDR-mastered version of that original mix. So we have them all right here and we can kind of flip back and forth between them and compare them. And I’ve level-matched everything, so there’s no difference in level when we flip back and forth between these different versions of the mix.

So, let’s take a listen first to my original mix. And I’m just going to play you a little bit of the chorus.

♫ And on and on ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫

Cool. So let’s take a listen to Howie’s master next.

♫ On and on, oh meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫

And now I just want to flip back and forth between these. So I’m going to play this and just flip back and forth so you can hear kind of a real-time comparison between these two.

♫ On and on, oh meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Of Joshua ♫

So to my ears, it sounds like Howie kind of added a little bit of top-end air; it has a little bit more of a scoop to it, so maybe there was some kind of midrange that was sucked down. It just sounds more three-dimensional and kind of larger than life. I mean, I really like what Howie did tonally to the mix. There’s also a kind of subtle stereo image shift on Howie’s master. It sounds like the whole stereo image kind of shifts to the left a little bit.

♫ On and on, oh meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Oh meet me at the border ♫

So it’s subtle, but it sounds like the entire mix just kind of shifts over to the left a little bit. And I’m not sure this was intentional. Sometimes it’s a side effect of using certain pieces of analog gear, which might kind of shift the stereo image, so I’m not sure that was an intentional decision, but just kind of another effect of the mastering process.

Now, let’s take a listen to the LANDR master next. And I’ll just play that same slice of the chorus.

♫ On and on, oh meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫

Okay, so let’s go ahead and compare that LANDR-mastered version of the mix with the original. So I’m just going to flip back and forth between them.

♫ On and on, oh meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Of Joshua ♫

So, the LANDR-mastered version actually sounds much more similar to my original mix than Howie’s master does. It sounds like the LANDR master has a little bit more sub, so maybe there was some kind of low end added. It sounds like there’s a little bit less of that kind of midrange information too, so take a listen to the kind of growl on that upper part of the bass.

♫ Border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫

And here’s the LANDR.

♫ Border ♫ I will meet you at the ♫

Again, my original.

♫ Border ♫ I will meet you ♫

And the LANDR.

♫ Border ♫ I will meet ♫

So to me, it sounds like in the LANDR master, it’s kind of pulled own a little bit. So maybe there was a kind of subtle, midrange scoop. It just sounds like some of that energy was kind of pulled down a little bit. In terms of the stereo image, it actually sounds pretty much identical to my original mix. So, it doesn’t sound like there was a lot of processing stuff happening there; it pretty much sounds identical to what I had in the final mix.

So now, I just want to go ahead and compare the LANDR master to Howie’s master, so we can kind of take a listen to those both back-to-back. So, let’s start with the LANDR master, and then I’ll flip back and forth between them while the track is playing.

♫ Couldn’t this just go on and on and on ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Oh, meet me at the border ♫ I will meet you at the border ♫ Of Joshua ♫

So, they’re not super different. But to me, in terms of the tone, I prefer what Howie’s doing. So, I like the air that Howie has on top of the mix; it just makes the mix and the track sound just more expensive and shinier and brighter. It sounds little bit more polished to my ears. The LANDR master sounds just a tad muddy on the bottom and it sounds like the sub kind of enhancement was just a little bit too much; it sounds a little bit too thick. But in terms of, you know, dynamically, the way that things are sitting, the LANDR master doesn’t sound over-compressed to me; it actually sounds dynamically pretty identical to Howie’s.

So, to my ears, there are things that I like about both of these masters. And I was actually surprised, because I thought the LANDR-mastered version was going to be worse. I mean, the real surprise to me was that this actually sounds presentable. Like, I wouldn’t mind releasing this on a record. I’d probably end up using this over my original mix. I’d prefer, if I had to choose, I would use Howie’s. But in terms of the results, I mean this wasn’t terrible. And I actually think this very usable. So, if you’re thinking about using LANDR; if you’re on the fence, I definitely think it’s worth checking out.

Now, just one thing to note here—both of these masters don’t sound that different from my original mix. And so, if there was more to be done, I think that you might see bigger differences between LANDR and maybe a professional mastering engineer. Or maybe not, I don’t know. This was just one mix and one example. So, it’s important, you know, to not just assume that LANDR is the right option, because maybe it did work that sounds good in this specific circumstance. So obviously every mix is different. But in terms of the results here, I think it’s promising. I mean, I would definitely recommend checking it out, and if you’re on the fence I would totally give it a go.

So I hope you found this video useful, and if you’re thinking about using LANDR, hopefully it gave you some clarity so can decide whether or not that’s the right move for you.

Now, if you want to dive deeper, I also put together a free pre-mastering checklist that you can use to prepare your mixes for mastering. Whether you’re using LANDR, or another online service, or hiring a pro, this checklist is just going to make sure you get the most out of the mastering process. So, to download it, click the link in the description below, or in the video, and you’ll get free instant access.

Anyways, thanks so much for watching, and if you want more mixing tips, check out my website BehindTheSpeakers.com. Thanks so much.

Video features music by Leah Capelle.