Waves Online Mastering: A New Player in Mastering
Exploring Waves Audio's venture into online mastering and how it stacks up
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Exploring Waves Audio's latest venture into online mastering and how it stacks up against the competition.
In the digital age, mastering has become an essential step for musicians, ensuring their tracks sound polished and professional. With the rise of online mastering platforms, the process has become more accessible, especially for budding musicians. Waves Audio, known for its wide range of plugins, has now thrown its hat in the ring with Waves Online Mastering*.
Features and Functionality
- Collaboration with Piper Payne: Waves Audio has teamed up with renowned mastering engineer Piper Payne. This collaboration promises a blend of human expertise with Waves' AI derived audio processing expertise.
- Advanced Machine Learning: The platform employs machine learning technology to offer custom-tailored processing for each song. This means every track gets a unique touch, moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach.
- User Input: Musicians have the option to influence the final output. With three "Style" and two "Tone" buttons, users can tweak the sound to their liking, while still adhering to mastering best practices.
- Designed for the Novice: Waves Online Mastering seems to target musicians who understand the importance of mastering but might not have the technical know-how. It bridges the gap, offering professional results without the steep learning curve.
I also liked the volume matching feature, which strips away the loudness differences, therefore making a truer comparison of sonic differences possible.
To try the new Waves Audio Online Mastering service myself, I uploaded an unmastered track I created for the Baby Audio BA-1 plugin, and used the free credit to master the track. I then used the free BandLab mastering to compare both masters with the original.
We left all options in default settings, with no changes, to make this a fair comparison.
Hear the results for yourself.
We used not just our ears, but also iZotope Insight 2 to visually compare the loudness, imaging and spectrum. Our observations are as follows:
- The unmastered WAV file I provided was peaking at -6.7 dB and Integrated Loudness of -24.1 LUFS.
- Waves Online Mastering came out with very high loudness levels of -10.4 LUFS. It is a bit concerning that seemingly no mastering standard, like the EBU Standard, or those set by streaming services typically setting -14 to -16 LUFS, were adhered to. I also noticed the true peak was captured at 0.1 dB.
- Bandlab Online Mastering in comparison applied in default setting a bit gentler mastering settings on loudness. The Integrated Loudness hit a more typical -15.1 LUFS, with the true peak limited to 0 dB. I noticed, however, that Insight 2 showed the left channel peaking at 0.4 dB.
Comparison with Competitors
Waves Online Mastering is an online service that offers custom-tailored processing for every song. It uses advanced machine learning technology in collaboration with Mastering Engineer Piper Payne.
- Three “Style” buttons and two “Tone” buttons for customization.
- Designed for musicians unfamiliar with the mastering process.
The pricing model is based on credits. You can buy from 1 credit to master 1 track for $5.99 per track. If you decide to buy more credits in one go, the price per track will reduce.
- 1 Credit: $5.99 = $5.99 per track.
- 5 Credits: $24.99 = $4.99 per track.
- 15 Credit: $59.99 = $3.99 per track.
- 60 Credit: $179.99 = $2.99 per track.
LANDR offers AI-driven mastering software that has been trusted by top studio engineers and has over 20 million mastered tracks.
- AI-powered mastering.
- Unlimited online masters and revisions.
- Reference mastering online.
- Full album mastering.
- Notable Collaborations: Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Snoop Dogg, Seal, and more.
LANDR offer both one off track mastering for $9.99, and a subscription to master more tracks per year.
- Master One Track: $9.99.
- Yearly Studio Subscription: $11.99 a month paid yearly. Includes unlimited MP3 track masters and 36 WAV masters.
- Monthly Studio Subscription: $19.99 per month. Includes unlimited MP3 track masters and 3 WAV masters per month.
- Yearly Studio Pro Subscription: $15.99 a month paid yearly. Includes unlimited MP3 and WAV masters.
- Monthly Studio Subscription: $39.99 per month. Includes unlimited MP3 and WAV masters.
BandLab offers free online mastering with a focus on artist-driven results.
- Multiple mastering settings based on genres like Rock, Pop, Electronic, and more.
- Collaborations with GRAMMY-Winning multiplatinum collaborators.
- Truly free with no complicated subscription models.
- Up to 10x faster than other services.
Other Online Mastering Services
Waves Audio's entry into online mastering* is intriguing. Collaborating with Piper Payne is a smart move, lending credibility to the platform. The inclusion of machine learning is commendable, ensuring each track gets individual attention.
However, the platform's emphasis on being user-friendly might raise eyebrows. While it's great for novices, seasoned musicians might crave more control. The "Style" and "Tone" buttons, although useful, might seem limiting to some.
It's essential to remember that this is a new release. Real user feedback, once available, will provide a clearer picture. For now, we recommend musicians give it a try, especially if they're new to mastering.
Waves Online Mastering* is a promising addition to the world of digital mastering. While it might not be the perfect fit for everyone, it's worth exploring, especially for those new to the mastering process. As always, we encourage musicians to try it out and share their experiences.
Trained in classical and jazz piano, Christof has over 30 years of experience in songwriting and music production. In 2021, he founded musicmanta and is now its Editor-in-Chief. Christof has worked in marketing for 25 years in Unilever and Kimberly-Clark. He is now the Head of Performance Marketing UK for Andrex, Kleenex, and Huggies, leading a team of 10 to create award-winning marketing campaigns, writing effective content, reaching millions of people.