In order to compete against the other streaming services, SoundCloud has to offer more to creators. The good thing is that it constantly adds new features, and a brand new one is audio mastering, and it’s powered by Dolby. If you just asked yourself, “I didn’t know that Dolby offered audio mastering,” then join the club.
As you might expect, Mastering On SoundCloud (as it’s officially called) will hit you in the pocketbook, but the price is very reasonable at $4.99 per track. It’s even better if you’re subscribed to the Pro Unlimited tier, because then you’ll get 3 tracks each month mastered for free, with any additions at just $3.99 each.
Just like most of the other online mastering services, SoundCloud’s Dolby audio mastering feature uses artificial intelligence to determine what a track needs in terms of level, compression and frequency response. The user does have some control over the result though. Styles that can be selected include Thunder (heavy bass), Sunroof (mids and highs), Clear Sky (brightness and dynamics) and Auroroa (experimental tracks). It will also accept any type of file.
Even better is that if you’re already on SoundCloud you can give it a try for free.
SoundCloud does have some recommendations before you do that upload though. The first is that you turn off all compression and limiting. While I understand the point, the problem here is that if you love your mix with compression and limiting already on it, the whole mix balance will change when you take it off. Be careful on this one.
Second, it asks for 3 to 6dB of headroom in the final mix track. Fair enough, the algorithm needs some wiggle room. Step 3 is to export your file at as high a resolution as possible, which is always a good idea (although there’s no point in exporting at 96kHz if your session was 48kHz as you won’t gain anything).
The thing I like is that you get a chance to easily compare the mastered versus the unmastered file at the end, and the algorithm gives you an idea of what kind of adjustments it made, so you can make notes for your next mix.
Mastering On SoundCloud is something definitely worth checking out if you don’t have the budget for a real mastering engineer (always preferred). The price is right, and you could save you a lot of time and have a better product in the end. Check out the video below for more info.