We recently produced a mastering shootout between LANDR's A.I. mastering technology, a Professional Mastering Engineer and a Music Mixer. We asked the Pro Tools Expert Community to blind listen to each mastering result and vote for the masters they liked the most. The poll results were very close, the Professional Mastering Engineer beat LANDR by a tiny margin of 4%.
In this mastering shootout, we take the human element out of the equation and pit two online A.I. mastering applications (LANDR & CloudBounce) against iZotope's latest A.I. Mastering Assistant feature in Ozone 8.
In this mastering shootout, we included a broader variety of musical genres. The aim of this shootout is to find out which A.I. mastering robot produces the most pleasing results. Let's save the "Mastering should only be done by humans" argument for another day - Let's just test the capabilities of these three A.I. mastering robots.
The Mastering Shootout Brief
Each mastering A.I. mastered each song in full, however, for this shootout, we have again only provided short snippets of each result to help you decide on your favourite masters. LANDR, CloudBounce and iZotope Ozone 8's Mastering Assistant provide different choices in regards to mastering "attitude" and "style".
The online LANDR application is a straightforward drag and drop system. Previews become available when the A.I. has uploaded and analysed the files. The preview box provides a 30 second snippet with a choice of three mastering intensities (Lo - Med - Hi) The mastering can easily be compared with the original unmastered mix in this window. For this test, we instructed LANDR to master each track under it's Med (medium) intensity.
Unlike LANDR, CloudBounce only uploads single tracks at a time, whereas LANDR enables users to up drag and drop several files in one go. CloudBounce features an extended set of presets called "Mastering Options" based on musical genres. For this test, we decided not to use any of the genre-specific mastering options. We wanted to hear the results of CloudBounce with no human direction, so we selected Default. Compared to LANDR, CloudBounce masters take much longer to process.
iZotope Ozone 8 Mastering Assistant
The Mastering Assistant in Ozone 8 asks one simple question: What are you going for? Upon selecting a Target we hit Play in the DAW and Next. The A.I. works through a checklist of processes which takes about 30 seconds to complete. Each process can be heard engaging and you also hear the engine fine-tune each process as it goes through the list. When the Mastering Assitant finishes an Accept button appears putting us through to the main Ozone 8 GUI. We didn't adjust any of the settings. The results you hear in these tests are chosen 100% by the Mastering Assistant.
Mastering is all about taste, vote for the masters you like the most. The A, B & C examples for each test have been randomly ordered.
We have provided the audio examples below in our embedded audio player, however, these files are also available as 24 Bit 44.1kHz Wav files that you can download and critique for yourself in your own DAW. There were slightly level differences between the results, we have level matched the results (excluding unmastered track) to make it easier to pick your favourite masters.
Download mastering shootout audio examples - 250MB download.
Results will be posted on Pro Tools Expert on the 30th October 2017