My mixing/mastering DAW of choice, Tracktion, has just added CloudBounce as a feature. This is one of those online mastering services like Landr, centered around a machine-learning algorithm. The results of the blind test are below.
I tested Landr also when it launched and the results indicated it was expecting a more conventional kind of track – not the variable dynamics and lack of consistent transients common to electroacoustic improvisation (or “noise” if you’d prefer!) While i’m happy to explore procedural generation as a creative tool for visual art and sound design i’m not entirely convinced it has a place in finalisation of tracks as these choices seem to me to be highly personal.
Having said all the above – while I’ve studied some of the approaches to mastering – I have no specific qualifications. So I thought i’d do a blind test. The playlist below features a track mixed by Joe from an session we did a month ago. I’ve uploaded his raw stereo file to Cloudbounce to see what it could make of it. I’ve also done my own mastered version in the box using only the software I have regular access to. The results can be streamed or downloaded.
My questions to listeners:
- Which is the Cloudbounce master and which is my version?
- Which do you prefer?
RESULTS (including poll data and PMs)
Note very few people who PM’d me chose to guess which was the CloudBounce master however of those that did, and including the poll results, 60% of the vote guessed the second track was mastered through CloudBounce.
The reality is that the CloudBounce master was track 1.
The response was pretty unanimous that track 1 was the preferred track with greater definition. It was also considered to be “louder”. One user responded that they thought the second track was “dull” whereas another, while suggesting track 1 was a better mix, liked the softer focus of track 2.
Personally I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the CloudBounce master. Of particular interest to me was the increased sonic space it brought out, situating the spiky transients more effectively amongst the deep / distant reverberant sounds.
One caveat is that my mastering attempt was not thorough. I was working with a pre-mixed stereo track and merely applied Airwindows Console4(Buss and Console) with Melda Spectral Dynamics and TurboComp flattening the overall sound somewhat which perhaps accounts for the dull / unfocused result. Clearly I have some learning to do.
I’m certainly keen to use CloudBounce services again. If you are reading this and would like to test it out please click this referral link and let me know how you go.