Why did I create an automatic mastering service?
Well, I am fully aware of how the majority of ‘bedroom producers’ out there have no intention of paying a mastering engineer to carry out their mastering – not for ‘every’ mix they produce. This isn’t down to there being a lack of business for mastering engineers, there is in fact plenty of work. I am aware of this down to the success I have found in writing ‘Pro Audio Mastering Made Easy’ (Part 1 and Part 2 as one single book). It seems there are plenty of people out there who are more intent on doing this final process for themselves as opposed to paying out for it. My mastering tutorial website MasteringTuition.com receives an astonishing amount of users. I’m fairly certain that all these users are not budding professional mastering engineers – they’re people who want to achieve a commercial polished sound so their own recordings and mixes will compete within the industry.
Some years ago I came up with the idea of providing an automatic mastering service for those who just need a quick master doing but don’t want to have to commit the time to learning how to do it – what with it being quite a difficult thing to get your head around at first. Unknown to most, I actually have a bit of experience in computers and coding. I designed, on paper, a simple system that could provide mastering on the fly without any human input. When I say without human input, that’s not technically true when you consider that how it processes audio is a carefully crafted system involving years of experience mastering thousands of audio files, but the actual final product would not require someone to ‘man it’. How the system works is obviously a secret!
This remained an idea on paper for some years. I played with it a bit and kind of built some of it, but it wasn’t until ‘automatic mastering’ became more of a hot topic a couple of years ago that I decided to make my system a reality. I called it WAVibe and used an old existing URL of mine from a previous business venture, MasteringExpress.com, to build a website in order for users to access my automatic mastering system.
WAVibe downloads your audio file, analyses it, makes some decisions based on the audio file itself and the information input by the user, then renders a master producing two files – an mp3 and a 24bit WAV. The mp3 is automatically delivered back to the user free of charge whereas the 24bit WAV is sent to a secure online storage in case the user decides to purchase the high res WAV’s for more serious use (currently 5.00 GBP each). Now, this system is not perfect, sometimes it crashes and I have to fix it but it does do exactly what I designed it to do which is to do a tidy job of mastering a tidy mix.
I invite anyone reading this to go and give it a try. It can’t repair a bad mix like a human mastering engineer can but if your mix is okay, I predict you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised with the results.
Find it here: Automatic Mastering
Please note, I understand that a service like this might bring about an amount of unease amongst other professional engineers out there. I would like to state that this system is not an attempt at trying to put other engineers out of work. I would be putting myself out of work too! There’s no way a machine could ever trump a human at audio mastering, but having spent many years working in and studying the industry, I know there’s a group of people out there who this service is meant for. Automatic mastering as a new territory altogether.
David S Eley.