Mastering Mode on DP-32SD vs Online Mastering Services: Which is better?

Discussion in '2488 and DP-24/32 Digital Portastudios' started by Bruce C, May 15, 2021.

  1. Bruce C

    Bruce C New Member

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    Hello. I mastered one of my rock tracks and it came out pretty good. I then ran the WAV file through a free trial of eMastered.com - I am trying to figure out if I really need an online mastering service like eMastered or even Landr.

    What do you think? Do you need an extra mastering service after running your song through the Mastering mode of the DP-32SD or is the unit's mastering mode good enough to be the last step of mastering?

    Thanks for all of your opinions on this,
    Bruce
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  2. David Porter

    David Porter Well-Known Member

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    I haven't tried one of the online services - but I am thinking that trying each and comparing the two options by playing back each option on as many playback devices as you can find and then simply judging for yourself which sounds best to you.
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  3. thornev

    thornev New Member

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    I would think a mastering service is staffed by professionals with the skills, experience and tools to produce excellent results. I don't expect to achieve such levels of expertise as it's not my vocation. Not even my avocation.
  4. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards Well-Known Member

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    As with many things in life, the answer is "it depends". Mastering requires a somewhat different skill set than mixing.
    • If your goal is commercial release/sale, then mastering of your mix by a professional mastering house (not an online service) where you will receive personal and expert attention is worth exploring.
    • If your goal isn't commercial release/sale, then professional mastering is much less important, particularly if you're satisfied with the mix and master you've created.
    • IMO, the online mastering services best serve those who aren't going for commercial release, but want or need the assurance that an independent set of ears has evaluated and tweaked their mix.
    In your situation, you could post a link to your master in the "Song Mixes" forum of this website. There are numerous members across this site with the expertise to critique your master and offer constructive criticism.

    Otherwise, David's above advice in post #2 is spot on, IMO.

    There's also a wealth of production information in the stickies you may find useful.
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
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  5. Arjan P

    Arjan P Veteran

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    First of all: If you use ANY mastering service, don't do any of it yourself. What you do on the DP (or anywhere else) cannot be undone and therefor the mastering service has less room to operate or cannot do anything at all. So send the final mix of your production without anything applied on that stereo track (no EQ and certainly no compression). Also, don't normalize!

    Second: find out if your online mastering service really supplies a person that will take decisions based on your track and his/her experience. Some that I've seen just run your track through some plugins with certain presets based on the type of music. That is useless (looks like emastered works that way).

    Third: it's always best to have mastering done by someone other than you, the so called 'fresh set of ears', but it's not always realistic. Ask someone else, maybe here on this forum! If you do it yourself, do it on a different day then mixing, and try to approach it as an outsider, however hard that is...
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  6. Bruce C

    Bruce C New Member

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    Arjan P says: Second: find out if your online mastering service really supplies a person that will take decisions based on your track and his/her experience.

    The mastering is done in 2 minutes, so I doubt there is a real person LOL
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  7. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    @Bruce C this video may be helpful to you:



    I have Ozone 9 and TC Electronic Finalizer. After using both Mastering suites for a considerable time, I no longer use them as single solutions. I have fully jumped into the Mastering pool after dipping my toes into it and the only thing that works with Mastering, is having a Mastering engineer listen to the song and take a specific approach for that song. I'm an audio engineer who fully understood the principles of Mastering, but I had to acquire the experience working with audio in Mastering because the approach is backwards, relative to the recording process. I'm successfully Mastering my own music and also mixes that I do professionally for clients. It takes awhile to get there but IMO there is nothing that one of those online services can do for you if as @Arjan P says, they're just running it through some plugins. If that's the case, there's nothing stopping you from using Ozone 9 and letting it analyze the audio and create a chain for you. My advice is to not spend your money unless it's a personal service with a Mastering engineer making adjustments by ear.
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  8. Bruce C

    Bruce C New Member

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    Thanks -mjk-, you make sense. I will also check out the Ozone video.
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  9. thornev

    thornev New Member

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    I've used Ozone (I forget which version - it was over a decade ago) on one of my self-produced songs and I was impressed with the results. The results are significant, but in the long run I was uncomfortable with letting software make mastering decisions for me. I'm not saying I can do a better job. I'm saying that as an artist, what I want the end result to be is something I should be able to make happen. If I were serious i.e. professional about mastering, I would make sure someone else with more experience were involved as I don't have much experience. But as an artist, I want to be involved in the process.
  10. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    @thornev said:


    Most Mastering services will tell you how many revisions you get for the price. You take a listen and tell them what you want that's different from what you are hearing.

    I don't understand what you mean by this:

  11. thornev

    thornev New Member

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    mjk - The OP was about software for mastering. I don't want the poster to think that software alone is a good choice for mastering. The artist's involvement with decisions should be #1 priority. That's all.
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  12. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    More correctly, the OP specifically mentioned a type of online mastering service:

    "An online mastering engine that’s fast, easy to use, and sounds incredible

    Made by Grammy-winning engineers, powered by AI"

    So there you go! Grammy-winning engineers made it so it must be really good.

    Unless you have a Mastering studio with thousands upon thousands of dollars of hardware for Mastering, software is all you have to work with. And, all of the big Mastering engineers use software in the chain.

    So I think the issue is not about software vs: hardware. I think the issue is whether or not AI is being used or the operations are being performed by an engineer using their ears. I advocate the latter over the former.
  13. thornev

    thornev New Member

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    Exactly my point - ears over software. Not one or the other but ears are the final arbiter regardless of whose ears.
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  14. lastmonk

    lastmonk Member

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    In many many situations the DP 32 SD's mastering step is sufficient. Of course it depends on your skills with mixing, and mastering. All of the tools are there. The EQ, FX, Panning, Limiting, Compression, Noise Suppression, De-essers, Bouncing, its all there right on the DP 32. If you know what you're doing you can get every last bit of it done on the Tascam. There have been a great deal of commercially successful records that were mixed and mastered with a lot less than what's available on the Tascam Portastudio.

    In the final analysis, its your music! Do you like the final result? Do your friends, family, & mates like the final result? Are you happy with how it sounds in the various places where you know it will be played? If the answer is yes then you don't need to do any more but put it on Distrokid and be done with it.

    https://distrokid.com/

    Commercial release means different things to different people in 2021. In 2021 it could be as simple as uploading your song to

    https://bandcamp.com/

    You absolutely can mix and master a song on a Tascam DP 32 from beginning to end and put it up on bandcamp and people who like it will patronize you. Its that simple.

    I have no idea how the standards for mixing and mastering work for a record deal these days. But given that you know what you want your music to sound like, and you're able to get that sound yourself by mixing and mastering on the Tascam DP 32 you don't need any further mastering by anyone; online service or otherwise.


    That being said, if you're not happy with your mix, or you're not happy with your master, or you don't know how to use the tools that come with the Tascam Portastudio, then of course surrender the raw tracks and stems to someone with more experience.

    Questions you might ask yourself:

    Do you know how you want your song arranged? Can you arrange it that way?
    Do you know what kind of orchestration you want for your song? Can you orchestrate it?
    Do you know how to get the levels and balances the way you want for your song?
    Does your finished song sound good to you on the devices you expect it will be played from?
    When you listen to your song does it project the feeling, emotion, groove you wanted?
    When you let others hear your song does it seem to have to impact you hoped for?

    If the answer to these questions is yes then your master is sufficient.

    Of course others can also take your mix and give you a master that also sounds good that is different from yours. Different mastering engineers can produce different results all from the same mix. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Its quite possible you may like their masters also, even though they differ from yours. You might like their approach to your mix better than your approach or you might not. Its all very subjective. There are many ways to approach a mix and master. Some are better than others. Some are just different from others.

    If you know what sound you want and you know how to get it from you're Tascam Portastudio then look no further (you have arrived at your destination). If you don't know what sound you want, or you're not sure what sound you want, or you don't know how to get the sound you want from the Tascam Portastudio then by all means get those stems and tracks into the hands of more experienced folks. Here are 5 self assessment indicators that will let you know if you need to turn your tracks/stems over to a professional:

    • If you're the kind of person who won't know what your creative opinion is until it is given to you then turn the stems over to professionals.

    • If you're the kind of person that needs or craves validation for your creative efforts from others and you value that validation over what you personally like, then turn the stems over to professionals.

    • If you're the kind of person that needs consensus from the masses for your creative efforts before you feel comfortable, then turn the stems over to professionals.

    • If you're the kind of person that can't accept failure, take criticism for, or defend the creative decisions you make, then turn the stems over to professionals.

    • If you're the kind of person that routinely second guesses yourself, and never has a come back for the phrase "I told you so..." then turn the stems over to professionals.




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  15. -mjk-

    -mjk- Moderator Staff Member

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    Back when I was in the bigtime, it was Vlado Meller at Sony labs in NYC. Vlado is still doing it, and there is also Streaky in the UK. Record companies invest considerable money in the end product being right. Not just Mastering but also the imagery and campaign.