SoundCloud has partnered with Dolby to offer algorithmic audio mastering.
“Mastering on Soundcloud” provides a variety of “mastering profiles,” and seeks to bridge the gap between amateurs and professional-quality masters for a fraction of the price. When done by a skilled human, the final master can cost anywhere between $50 and $200 a song. On SoundCloud, that service is available for $4.99. If it works — and that’s not guaranteed — it could do what Instagram filters did to photography, and radically reshape the market.
Of course, many “groundbreaking” products are ultimately worse versions of what’s currently available, and that may be the case here. But SoundCloud and Dolby are big players, and what they say they can do is tantalizingly cheap.
In a new blog post, SoundCloud revealed that it “costs the same to master any file type,” including lossless formats like WAV and FLAC. This could ensure premium audio fidelity, but the billion-dollar question is if Dolby’s program approaches songs “the way an engineer would.” The statement went on,
“Dolby’s mastering technology doesn’t just analyze your track, it critically listens to your music similar to the way an engineer would – identifying the details, the sections, and musical transitions that give your song its unique story arc. Using the mastering profiles of your choice, this detailed “sonic map” is then used to sculpt the tone and overall dynamic profile of your mix while prioritizing your creative intent.”
Mastering on Soundcloud released a trailer that walks prospective engineers through preparing the track. The seven-minute video revealed four of the preset masters, and the names certainly evoke Instagram: “Thunder”, “Sunroof,” “Aurora,” and “Clear Sky.” The trailer features an EDM preview of each preset, from the bass-forward “Thunder” to the bright high-tones of “Clear Sky.” Check it out below.
Current SoundCloud Pro Unlimited members receive three free masters a month, with additional masters available at the discounted price of $3.99. A 30-day free trial is going on now.