I’m releasing another song on April 15th. Below you’ll find the result of the mastering of my final mix by a few different services. There are lots of other comparison write-ups on the internet that compare these services and many others, so I’ll be brief and mostly let you compare the results yourself. Most parameters were set moderately, to Rock / Pop settings where applicable.
I’m loading 320 kpbs mp3s by default for performance, but you can switch to uncompressed if you’d like.
Metropolis (what I'm publishing) - mastering done by an engineer at the studio
Cloudbounce - e-mastering - "Rock / Pop" settings
Landr - e-mastering - "Balanced / Medium" settings
SoundCloud - e-mastering - "Clear Sky @ 73 percent"
My own simple approach: UA Oxford Inflator -> Apple Adaptive Limiter
Final Mix / Input (pre-mastering)
My Conclusions & Opinions
Mastering is a tough thing to do. The “Loudness Wars” make it very easy to ruin your mixes by trying to be as loud as what’s on the radio, etc. It’s also a subtle art – it may be tough for some to hear differences between these.
My favorite master here is the Metropolis one. However, at around $100 per track, Metropolis can be somewhat expensive compared to the e-mastering options above, each of which are a cheap $5-$10 per song at the time of writing.
Of the 3 e-masters, CloudBounce is my favorite, though I find it to be overly distorted.
I also find the Landr track to be too distorted (listen to the midranges to more easily sense the distortion).
The SoundCloud master is my least favorite. The midrange and vocal sound tinny and strange to me.
All 3 e-masters could be changed through their parameters, so don’t take these results to be exhaustive.
I’m also somewhat happy the results of my own attempt at a super simple mastering approach. Moving forward, I think my process is going to be to use CloudBounce (probably set to “less loud”) compared to my own approach, and then I’ll save my final mixes and bring a professional like those at Metropolis in when I want to make something that isn’t a quick budget single.