Try Reference Mastering and Get the Specific Sound You Want
So much effort goes into producing the tracks you love. Along the way, skilled pros lend their unique talents to every stage in a song’s development—from writing to mastering.
When it comes to this crucial step in the life cycle of a song, each mastering engineer brings a unique style to the table.
How can you capture the essence of your favorite sounds when it’s time to master your own music?
You may think getting a master that sounds like the music you hear on the radio requires hiring the person who actually did the master itself.
That’s still a viable option, especially with networking platforms that connect professional audio engineers with music producers.
But, there’s another more efficient and less costly way to get a professional sounding master by analyzing the sound of a specific track you’d like to reference.
LANDR’s new reference mastering tool is the best new way to get your perfect custom master on a budget.
In this article I’ll show you how reference mastering works and the best ways to use it to get closer to the sound in your head.
What is Reference Mastering?
Reference mastering is an advanced use of LANDR’s AI mastering engine.
Just upload a track you want your track to resemble and LANDR will analyze the track to create a master of your track that references the source material.
It’s the best way to get your track as close to sounding like a professional master, without contracting a pro audio engineer.
Here’s a quick and simple demo of what LANDR can do to any track.
Try LANDR Mastering on Your Own Tracks
Just remember that you must have the rights to the track you use as a reference track.
For example, if you own a master previously done for you by a professional audio engineer you may use that as a reference track.
How to use Reference Mastering
Using reference mastering is as easy as customizing your master with intensities or mastering styles.
Here’s how it works.
- Log in to your LANDR account
- Go to the library section once logged in
- Select “Master” and choose “Tracks”
- Upload the track you’d like to master
- Click “advanced mastering”
- Choose reference and add up to three reference tracks
From mix reference to reference mastering
Reference mastering comes from a common practice engineers use to help improve their work called mix referencing.
It means comparing the track you’re working on critically against other material such as previous mixes you’ve made, commercial recordings, or other mixes in the same project.
The idea is to identify the characteristics of mix that make it sound so good. I’m talking about sonic qualities like the frequency balance, dynamics and stereo imaging.
Reference tracks became so common in mixing that mixers began providing mastering engineers with references to use during the their own process.
Mastering engineers would then use a similar technique to create masters with similar overall characteristics to the reference.
Before LANDR reference mastering, you could only use a reference track during mastering if you worked with an expensive pro engineer.
But if you’re not ready to hire someone yet, you can now get all the benefits of reference tracks using AI-powered mastering.
New ways to use your reference tracks
LANDR’s AI mastering tool opens up a ton of new ways to use reference mixing and mastering in your workflow, whether it’s comparing your mix to a mastered track or finalizing a track.
While reference mixing has historically required the use of a track someone else mastered for commercial use, reference mastering takes this concept into the 21st century.
That’s because reference mastering uses LANDR’s AI mastering tools to create a master that’s similar in style to your reference track.
It bypasses human ears and directly applies all the details from your reference track into LANDR’s AI mastering algorithm.
That way you get a version of your track that was mastered like your reference track to use as a mix reference, or even as a final master.
It’s an incredibly valuable way to make detailed changes to your mix or even create a final master.
Get closer to your sound with reference mastering
Next time you’re ready to master a track, find a reference track that you have the right to use and use it in LANDR’s AI reference mastering tool.
Once you upload your reference track you’ll get a mastered version of your track that was mastered in the same style within minutes.
Reference mastering comes free with most LANDR plans, so it’s easy to get started with sounding closer to the specific sound you want to sound like.
Alex Lavoie works as a staff writer at LANDR by day and writes indie post-punk tunes in his band UTILS while moonlighting as drummer for folk-rock outfit The Painters.
Gear guides, tips, tutorials, inspiration and more—delivered weekly.
Keep up with the LANDR Blog.