Arturia Pigments Review- The Polychrome Synth for the masses

The ‘arms race’ for the best VST instruments, samplers, sequencers, digital synthesizers, wavetables, granular instruments, and software has not yet been concluded, and the tides have dramatically turned with the coming of Arturia’s Pigments, which basically wrapped the elements of all the aforementioned goodies in a neat, convenient little package.

Basically, Arturia’s Pigments is a top-shelf Polychrome Software Synthesizer that offers an abundance of highly versatile features tailored to cater to the needs of music producers, musicians, DJs, and pretty much everyone who’s even remotely into music composition.

In short words, it’s a program comprised of virtual instruments, sequencers, samplers, EQ stages, and a plethora of functionalities that are as unique as they are practical.

Today we’re diving into the Pigments’ specs and features, so stick with us for a while longer if you’re searching for the ultimate compositional software piece on the market.

Design and Interface

One of the first things that you’ll hear about Arturia’s Pigments is that it’s a program with a ridiculous amount of features.

Now, before that dissuades you from trying it out, we should point out that it possesses an incredibly intuitive, beginner-friendly interface.

The main screen of the Pigments is chopped up into smaller logical fragments, which are both intelligently connected and highly discernable from one another.

Each part features different kinds of colors, graphics, and visuals that will help you set them apart from very early on.

Engine and Filter section

The Engine and Filter sections are located in the upper-most corners of the interface. These parts take up the bulk of the display, but all of the features contained therein are self-explanatory and relatively easy to use.

The upper sections of the Pigments offer simplified filters, equalizers, and modulator controls. Here is where you will get to mix individual instruments, play them together or atop of one another, modulate separate sections of your tunes, and master the basic settings, such as volume, frequencies, and similar parameters.

Waveform macros

The tiniest section of this software is essentially the Waveform Macro part; this is where you’ll filter your creative juices in, as this is the part that basically alters and shifts whichever notes you’ve programmed with the built-in keyboard.

The macros are colored differently, and you can pick a preset, shape your own, activate the ‘random’ function to generate brand-new ones, and even combine several for relatively unpredictable results.

Keyboard

The integrated keyboard is pretty basic; it features only four octaves, and it’s precisely its minimalistic design that appeals to beginners the most.

Of course, you’ll be able to move along the octaves with the little slider buttons on the left side of the piano, as well as regulate its volume (which does not affect the ‘master’ volume; it’s purely a feature for your own convenience and comfort).

The keyboard section has a couple of functions; it features the ‘bend range’, which basically governs the octaves; the ‘tuning’ is self-explanatory and very convenient, especially if you wish to tweak and spice up pre-recorded songs; and lastly, we have the ‘play settings’, which offer a couple of exquisite features, including the glide time, and ‘mode selector’ knob.

Who is Arturia Pigments perfect for?

In a nutshell, this is an incredibly versatile program that is as useful in the hands of professional studio producers as it is in the hands of beginner musicians and DJs.

It’s laden with a plethora of functionalities, which may appear a bit overwhelming at times, but essentially it’s not that difficult to use.

We could go as far as to define the Pigments as‘scaling’ software; this is a program that evolves as you begin to master it, opening new doors to your creativity.

Most of the features it comes supplied with are limited only by the bounds of your creative genius.

Pros:

  • One of the most versatile music-production programs on the market
  • Limitless wave-shaping potential
  • A bundle of highly intuitive features
  • Packed with top-quality presets and sequencers
  • Simplistic mixing and mastering features
  • Ideal for both professionals and neophyte producers and DJs

Cons:

  • The sections can’t be customized
  • Can appear intimidating for newcomers and beginners at first

Pigments 2 – newer, a bit more expensive version

The Pigments 2 is the brand-new, upgraded, re-polished version of Arturia’s original Pigments PSS that brings a huge array of new features and benefits to the table.

Obviously, it’s slightly more expensive than the original, and it’s just slightly harder to use due to an increased number of selectable and customizable settings.

The first improvement is the brand-new sample engine; it features a redesigned interface and a couple of tweaks regarding the playback/load tracks.

The second most notable addition to the Pigments 2 is the additional Synth Mode; essentially, this function is comprised of additional digital knobs and wheels that will provide you with even more eclectic opportunities to shape and reconfigure your tones and effects.

Furthermore, there’s another Sequencer aboard the Pigments 2; this is essentially an integrated feature that allows you to rearrange chunks, bits, and pieces of your sounds, track sections, and fragments in whichever order you want.

Last, but not least, we should also mention that the Pigments 2 comes equipped with a variety of new features, such as the new interface, the re-imagined undo and redo buttons, advanced modulation bars, MPE capability, as well as with a selection of additional presets.

While Arturia’s Pigments (1) is fairly beginner-friendly, Pigments 2 is better suited for seasoned producers and DJs.

Conclusion

Arturia’s Pigments brings so many benefits to the table that it’s pretty fair to say it’s worth every single cent of the price.

It’s one of the most eclectic, most versatile tools a musician can have, especially if you’re feeling like you’re lacking creative outlets.

Pigments sports elements of virtual instruments, digital percussions, mixing consoles, equalizers, sequencers, and many other convenient programs that you would otherwise have to obtain elsewhere, but in this case, they’re stacked together in a convenient, easy-to-use package.

Free VST like Omnisphere- High end Synths on a budget

Spectrasonics flagship VST Omnisphere has been on the radar of many skilled and seasoned producers, but let’s face it, not everyone can afford it.

Although it packs some of the most amazing features in the virtual instrument world, there are ways to emulate its performance with other free VSTs.

We’re here today to showcase some of the finest free VSTs that can provide you with fairly similar benefits to that of Spectrasonics’ Omnisphere, so let’s get to it, shall we?

Omnisphere in a nutshell

Just like you would expect from a boutique VST, Omnisphere packs a massive, eclectic array of well-rounded features.

It packs an enormous library that boasts over 10,000 sound types, including various effects, samples, colors, timbres, and all sorts of other tone-shaping bits of sonic pieces.

The newer version (Omnisphere 2) is even more versatile, bringing thousands of additional patches to the table.

In comparison to many budget and free VSTs, Omnisphere rocks more than 100 wavetable formats, eight LFOs, and twelve envelopes. Its base engine is staggeringly fast and reliable, and to top it all off, the main platform screen is easy to navigate and operate even by beginners.

As mentioned earlier, it is pretty expensive, so it’s no wonder you’re looking for a bit cheaper alternatives. Now that we’ve established that Omnisphere boasts a ridiculously high level of performance, let’s proceed to free VSTs that are capable of getting close to it.

Tyrell N6

Tyrell N6 is, essentially, a simplistic synth VST that offers easy accessibility, dozens of highly customizable features, and most importantly, a very intuitive layout of its numerous settings.

We really liked the fact that it combines analog elements with traces of digital settings, although its main platform is old-school to the bone.

To put things short, N6 features a dedicated Oscillator modification panel, fine-tune oscillator controls, a relatively simplistic mixer table, standard filters, two LFOs, two envelopes, and one matrix channel.

First and foremost, the main reason why N6 can’t really compete with the versatility of Omnisphere as a standalone VST is the fact that it offers only a handful of selectable waveforms.

Naturally, this is pretty common for free VSTs; on a bit brighter note, you’ll be able to create your own shapes once you get the hang of this virtual studio tool.

The mixer channel features two oscillator faders, a sub fader, noise, ring, and feedback faders, all of which can be adjusted between levels 0 and 10.

The filter channel is relatively similar, sporting four faders (key-follow, cut, res, and mix), but it also features two digital source panel, and two mod panels where you can fine-tune the sounds you’ve loaded.

All things considered, this is a powerful tool, and even though it seems pretty basic, it offers high versatility to those who are patient enough to toy around with its plain-looking features.

OhmForce SymptOhm

The SymptOhm is free VST software that can easily come in handy where other similar programs fall short.

Simply put, SymptOhm is a no-brainer if you’ve just started out as a music producer or a DJ.

It doesn’t sit well with sound engineers as it doesn’t offer many mixing options, but as far as the compositional side is of concern, it’s got you covered.

It features more than a thousand presets and built-in samples and MIDI chunks, and most importantly it’s absolutely the easiest VST you can use.

Now, the main downside of SymptOhm is its overly accentuated focus on the presets while mixing is almost completely neglected.

It’s very easy to use, and obviously it’s absolutely perfect for beginners, but that does not necessarily mean that it will be useless to professionals; in fact, it’s quite the contrary.

The creative, quirky, and to a certain extent idiosyncratic samples and presets contained within SymptOhm’s library feature numerous gems that might be exactly what you were looking for.

None of the built-in sounds and tones is overly processed, and there’s plenty to choose from. 

Kairatune

Kairatune is, essentially, a Sci-fi-looking VST packed with a variety of very unique features. It boasts hundreds of presets and samples, a pitch-bending platform, multiple oscillator panels, and a full arsenal of other mixing features.

This is mainly a post-production VST that will allow you to customize and fine-tune the tone of your tracks in great detail.

Furthermore, it works in perfect synergy with the SymptOhm, and fills the gaps that are its most notable pitfalls.

While it’s certainly much more complex, it’s also very fun to use due to all the LED-simulated colors and neatly ordered sections, so it’s pretty hard to get lost.

Again, this is a free VST that doesn’t necessarily provide the same level of versatility and well-roundedness as Omnisphere per se, but when combined with other free virtual studio tools you will be able to achieve very similar effects.

Honorable mention: HoRNet Harmonics

Most free VSTs come supplied with modest wave-shaping abilities, so we’ve decided to add one that specializes in this particular field of performance.

HoRNet’s Harmonics is a virtual studio tool that fulfills a singular role – it’s meant to help you create the most exquisite waveforms in the simplest fashion possible.

It features individualized digital harmonic manipulation, customizable level & phase settings for every individual harmonic, ten different artificial harmonic generators, and excellent compatibility with most modern systems.

Obviously, it’s one of the most straightforward VST software models that you can find out there, but it’s extremely limited as a standalone program.

Conclusion

There are hundreds, if not thousands of free virtual studio tools on the Internet, and sifting through all of them is excruciatingly time-consuming, to say the very least.

We’ve taken the liberty of handpicking only the most useful ones that, when combined, can provide you with the same amount of versatility and tonal qualities that using Omnisphere would.

Some of these plugins are very simplistic while others are fairly complex, so it would be fair to say that you’ll need some time and skill to utilize them in your arsenal.

Shure SM58 vs Sennheiser E835

Sennheiser and Shure are the names most musicians who are worth their salt have heard already; these brands are ‘responsible’ for numerous groundbreaking instruments and gear pieces that have graced the shelves of both physical and virtual marketplaces worldwide, and today we’ve decided to take a gander at SM58 and E835.

These are, in essence, two low-end microphones that boast performance levels which greatly surpass their price tags.

They sound awesome, they’re pretty versatile, and we aim to delve deep into details that could explain their exact value for the money.

Without any further ado, let’s get straight into it.

Shure SM58 in a nutshell

In simple words, Shure’s SM58 is a dynamic microphone with a super cardioid pickup pattern; it boasts a frequency response range of 50 Hz to 15 kHz; its output impedance is measured at 150 Ohms, and it is light as a feather with only 0.66 pounds of weight.

It sounds great, especially given the fact that it’s barely more expensive in comparison to an average budget microphone, and it’s certainly built to last.

It kind of looks a bit basic, though, and it’s only available in one color style option.

Sennheiser E835 in a nutshell

If it weren’t for the color and size, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the E835 from SM58.

This is a dynamic microphone with a super cardioids pickup pattern (exactly like Shure’s SM58), and it weighs almost the same (0.73 pounds).

The frequency response range of the E835 is a bit broader, spanning from 40 Hz to 16 kHz, and its output impedance is almost twice as strong in comparison to the SM58 (350 Ohms).

Design and aesthetics

Just like we’ve mentioned a second ago, Sennheiser’s E835 and Shure’s SM58 share the same type of design; they’re both dynamic microphones with super cardioid pickup patterns; this makes them extremely versatile for musicians; at the same time, it makes them really hard, and maybe even a bit unwieldy for podcasters, influencers, YouTubers, and such.

In terms of aesthetics, the Sennheiser’s E835 features a grey finish with a black screen whereas Shure’s SM58 has a black finish with a silver screen.

This is entirely a matter of subjective preference, especially given the fact that these are basically the only colors available.

All things considered, we have an obvious draw; both microphones are designed the same, and they look pretty much alike.

Durability, size, and weight

The dimensions of Shure’s SM58 measure 6.3 inches by 2 inches while the dimensions of E835 measure 7.08 inches by 1.88 inches. Obviously, the SM58 is just slightly smaller, but the difference is so small that it’s negligible.

In terms of weight, the SM58 weighs 0.66 pounds while E835 0.73 pounds. Again, we see a bit of a difference, but it’s too small to be discerned unless put under a ‘microscope’.

Now, as for the durability part; Shure’s SM58 is built to last, just like the vast majority of Shure microphones. It features a robust metal construction, and it pretty much feels durable to the touch.

The windscreen also excels in this particular field of performance, which is the reason why many live performers lean on it as their go-to instrument.

The situation with Sennheiser’s E835 is not much different; it’s made of almost exactly the same materials, which provide it with almost the same level of durability. In fact, even the windscreen is as robust as the one that SM58 comes supplied with.

Again we don’t have a clear winner; it’s obvious that there are little differences that set these two microphones apart, but none that are significant enough to actually have an impact on their overall performance.

Frequency response

The first actual difference between SM58 and E835 is their frequency response range. Let’s remind ourselves – Shure’s SM58 has a frequency response range that spans from 50 Hz to 15 kHz while Sennheiser’s E835 has a range of 40 Hz to 16 kHz.

Now, even though the SM58’s range is way better than average, Sennheiser’s E835 beats it by hair’s length. Its range is extended in both ways, which means that it can pick up on even lower frequencies (by 10 Hz) and even higher frequencies (by a full kHz).

Performance in action

These microphones are similar in a plethora of ways, and that includes their intended application.

Both SM58 and E835 are excellent-quality microphones for both on-stage performing and recording.

The main reasons why they are so versatile are that they come supplied with top-shelf features and excellent frequency response ranges.

Price

Ironically, these microphones cost almost exactly the same. In fact, the difference might be a couple of cents, but they’re in the exact same price range, without even a full dollar separating their price tags.

Similarities

It probably would be easier to point out the differences first (since they are in smaller number), but for the sake of formality, let’s number the many similarities that these microphones share between themselves:

  1. Same design (cardioids)
  2. Similar aesthetics
  3. Almost the same price range
  4. Both are great for live performances and studio work
  5. Both are built to last for decades
  6. Excellent sound quality
  7. Phenomenal screens
  8. Adequate impedance levels

Differences

It was pretty hard figuring out which difference between these two microphones was actually the most important one, but after taking the fact that there aren’t so many into consideration, we’ve figured it’s the frequency response range.

Basically, the only edge E835 has over SM58 is the fact that it has a slightly broader range (both lower and upper); it might be worth mentioning that SM58 is slightly lighter, although both are basically equal in terms of durability.

Conclusion

Although E835 is slightly better than SM58 in a couple of performance aspects, they’re very much alike.

In fact, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between these microphones, aside from bands that are tuned in either super-low or super-high tunings.

Overall, you won’t make a mistake by picking either one.

Best Tremolo Pedal

Musicians all around the world are always in search of the perfect, most exquisite, and unique tone. Some resort to their ability to manipulate different sounds, others resort to using different kinds of gear.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. A good musician knows his limits and aims to compensate his weaker points with better instruments and amps.

However, the best musicians are constantly challenging themselves, pushing the boundaries, and are consistently improving and upgrading their arsenal.

Truth be told, the diversity of instruments, accessories, and gadgets a guitar player could introduce to his rig back in the day wasn’t as eclectic.

There were only a couple of renowned brands, and the price ranges were substantially narrower.

There were cheap pieces of gear, and then there were expensive, boutique models available to the most prestigious players via sponsorships and endorsements.

Nowadays, luckily, a guitar player can easily morph and shift his (or her) sound with even the most heavily limited budget.

You may need a couple of months to save up enough money for a
decent amp; you may need a couple of weeks to save some cash for an instrument upgrade; luckily, you’ll need much less time to come up with even money for a new pedal.

The vast majority of guitarists already have at least a couple of pedals in their rig, most likely a distortion/overdrive, a delay pedal, and maybe a basic compressor.

What we recommend to players who are looking for a new way to approach their instrument is a quality tremolo pedal. If you don’t know where to start your search for one, you’re in the right place:

J. Rockett Audio Designs Tour Series Mr. Moto Tremolo Pedal

Even though J. Rockett might not be as famous as Boss or TC Electronics, you can rest assured that the quality of pedals this brand has released is equally strong.

Mr. Moto is a highly customizable, fairly sensitive pedal that can accommodate pretty much every musical style or genre.

It packs two standard control knobs that govern the tremolo’s depth and speed, but it also allows you to modify the actual shape of the tremolo effect with the ‘wave’ function; at the same time, you can also introduce a fully independent reverb effect with the ‘Verb’ knob.

Although this is a highly versatile pedal, its straightforward design makes it ideal for both beginners and experienced guitar players.

Walrus Audio Monument V2 Harmonic Tap Tremolo Pedal

If you are a skilled player who’s into classical styles of music as well as into experimental and improvisational genres, we strongly believe you are going to love the Monument V2.

Essentially, this is a highly versatile pedal that features two separate sets of Tremolo modes – harmonic and standard.

This pedal will allow you to tweak the volume, the division, rate, depth, and shape of your tremolo, but it will also allow you to completely alter your guitar’s voice with as much as a flip of a switch.

You may need some time adjusting to its responsiveness, but you can rest assured that the rewards are guaranteed.

TC Electronic Pipeline Tremolo

TC Electronic is one of the industry leaders in the guitar accessory department, and their Pipeline Tremolo pedal is a true representative of their quality.

At first glance, this is a relatively plain pedal that has a small footprint and is easy to use, but looks can be deceiving.

As a matter of fact, the Pipeline Tremolo is as eclectic as can be; it features six pre-set tremolo shapes as well as a custom bank, and it rocks depth, speed, and volume control knobs that offer superb well-roundedness.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to switch between vintage, tone print, and square tremolo voices; this makes this pedal an excellent choice for both starter guitarists and veterans.

Ernie Ball Expression Tremolo Pedal

Beginner musicians have heard of Ernie Ball’s strings; more experienced players have probably played on the Music Man guitar while those who’ve really dug deep know that this brand also offers a variety of instruments and accessories.

The Expression Tremolo pedal features the design of a wah-wah pedal with a ramped foot platform, a built-in spring reverb complementary effect, and five pre-set tremolo waveforms, including slow-rise, slow-fall, harmonic, square, and sine.

What’s more, it’s actually not even that expensive, even though it offers substantially more versatility and unique features than typical mid-range guitar pedals.

EarthQuaker Devices Hummingbird V4

Pedals designed by EarthQuaker Devices are not for the faint of heart. Most of their models offer wild, often unpredictable results, which makes them perfect for experimental musical endeavors.

The Hummingbird is one of the chirpiest and grittiest tremolos in the middle price point category that offers a ton of different voices, ranging from old-school vintage-like timbres, over classic and nostalgic tones, to modern, new-age hues.

This pedal features three different active modes, adjustable rate, depth, and level. In fact, out of the myriad of EarthQuaker ‘Devices’, the Hummingbird is actually the most consistent and reliable one.

BOSS TR-2 Tremolo Guitar Pedal

Boss is arguably one of the most iconic names in the guitar pedal world, and here we have their TR-2 Tremolo pedal.

Essentially, this is a vintage-sounding pedal tailored for musicians that have an eclectic taste for all things sonic, and it’s packed in a neat, very familiar casing comprised of solid, stainless steel.

It features Rate and Depth control knobs, as well as wave-adjustment controls that are as easy to use as they are sensitive.

JHS Tidewater Tremolo Guitar Effects Pedal

Let’s pull down the curtains with JHS Tidewater, which is one of the best tremolo pedals you could possibly find while on a cash-strapped budget.

It’s one of the tiniest pedals on the market that could easily fit in any kind of pedal rig and its versatility is more than you’d bargain for the money.

It offers volume, mix, and speed control knobs, as well as a 3-way mode switch. Even though it might be a bit clunky due to its peculiar (crowded) design, it’s still among the best-sounding, best-rounded tremolo pedals out there.

Guitar Pedal Guide- When and Why to Use each One

The search for tone is a never-ending quest most musicians embark on after trying out a couple of different instruments and amps.

Most of tonal ‘originality’ is in the fingers of the players, though, but there are other means by which you can influence how your instrument sounds like.

Not many people are in such a position where they can afford to buy dozens of amps and guitars, so the best alternative is to shape up your sound with guitar pedals.

Today we are going to talk about when and why you should use different kinds of guitar pedals, which work in harmony, and how to create the ultimate setup in the easiest way possible.

A foreword about guitar pedals

Guitar pedals are meant to introduce ‘effects’ that directly influence the behavior of the instrument.

Some alter its tone slightly while others drastically change it, and knowing which pedal to use will mean the difference between shaping up a unique set of voices and ruining your guitar’s tone.

The smartest way to approach guitar pedals is to get to know your instrument a bit better and see which models will complement your axe the most.

Guitar tonewoods & pedals that work best with them

Guitars made of alder and basswoods are in a very balanced position on the tonal spectrum, sitting right in the middle between warm and bright.

Pedals that drastically affect the tone will have a slightly diminished effect on them, but on the upside, these guitars typically work great with every guitar pedal type.

Mahogany-made guitars are dominant in the lower-end price point categories; cheap guitars typically feature these tonewoods and are much warmer than, for instance, guitars made of Walnut.

Maple is one of the brightest-sounding tonewoods while Rosewood is one of the warmest.

The reason why you should consider the composition of your guitar is quite simple; axes made of bright-sounding tonewoods typically work best with overdrive and distortion pedals, pitch-shifters, and phasers while warm-sounding guitars tend to get the most out of wah-wah pedals, delays, and other ‘cleaner’ effect types.

At the end of the day, you can always even out the differences your guitar has with tone knobs on the amp you’re using, but it wouldn’t hurt to go with the flow rather than trying to ‘swim upriver’.

Guitar amps & pedals

There are far more amp brands and manufacturers than there are guitar tonewoods, which makes the issue of choosing the perfect pedals for your amp a fairly complex question, so let’s stick with the basics for the time being.

The most common types of guitar amps are analog and digital amps. In short words, tube amps lend their unique tone and tonal versatility to pedals while digital amps are basically meant to be used as they are.

Regardless of whether you have a solid-state or a tube amplifier, analog amps will help you find a ‘starting’ tone, which you will be able to shape even further with guitar pedals. Think of an analog amp as a sketch of a painting that requires the finishing touches.

Digital amps normally feature ‘artificial’ presets based on analog amps. Even though you’ll be able to make tweaks and adjustments on them, a good deal of your pedal’s tone-shaping potential will be lost on them.

In conclusion, you should avoid major tone-altering pedals, such as distortions, phasers, and pitch-shifters if you are using a digital amp, whereas you are free to use any pedal you like if you own an analog one.

Types of guitar pedals and when to use them

Let’s get started with the main course – when and why to use each guitar pedal type. In this section, we will briefly explain the most notable characteristics of each guitar pedal before stating where they can be efficiently used, where they should be avoided, and why.

Distortion effects

Whenever there’s talk of guitar pedals, most people immediately picture a distortion pedal.

Basically, distortion effects form a category that consists of various sound-distorting effects, such as overdrive, fuzz, crunch, and obviously, distortion effect pedals.

What all of these pedal types have in common is that they ‘clip’ the guitar’s audio signal; this way they are reshaping the structure of the instrument’s waveforms by adding warm and bright overtones at the same time.

Plainly speaking, distortion effects add ‘grit’ to the tone in varying intensities. Overdrive and fuzz pedals are a bit ‘weaker’ than rock-hard distortion pedals, but they’re all meant to recreate the sound of a high-gain analog amp.

Interestingly enough, these pedals work perfectly well with analog amplifiers, and you might think ‘why do I need a high-gain amp sound if I can already achieve it on my amplifier?’; basically, gain ‘stacks’, and you will be able to merge different gain stages of different gain frequencies this way.

When to use:

You should use distortion, overdrive, fuzz, and crunch pedals to add punchy overtones to your tone, and this can be done in any number of scenarios. In mellower musical styles distortion effects are used to pronounce solos or dynamic bridges whereas these pedals are active non-stop in genres such as rock and metal.

Distortion effect pedals are clear-cut and very pronounced, so they generally don’t leave much space for experimentation with music genres they aren’t already popular in. 

When not to use:

On the flip side, there are certain music styles where distortion effects would work against you. Genres such as polka and pop music, as well as musical styles that do not have the guitar in their spotlight wouldn’t welcome distortion pedals with open arms.

You may hear faint and weakly distorted guitars in certain pop songs, but you may not necessarily need a distortion pedal to achieve such sounds and timbres. Usually, a mediocre analog amp is all you need, provided that it has at least a 3-band EQ.

Amplitude effects

Amplitude effects alter the dynamics (volume) of your guitar. Several types of pedals fit into this category, including Booster pedals, Compressors, and Noise Gates. Since these three serve three distinctly different purposes, let’s address each of them separately.

Boost pedal

Boost pedals (boosters) enhances the audio signal’s amplitude. In simple words, it ramps up the volume, exceeding the limit of the amp.

When to use:

Boosters are ideally used for guitar solos, as they can be used to immediately strengthen your guitar’s volume without any signal loss.

When not to use:

Prolonged use of booster pedals will inevitably make other players struggle to keep up with the audio output, so it shouldn’t be overused.

Compressor

Compressors are basically catalyst pedals that balance rampant sounds and noises. They are capable of taming punchy lows and calming thundering highs automatically. Generally speaking, compressor pedals ‘crop’ the dynamic range of your instrument, preventing the sounds from leaving the pre-configured bounds.

When to use:

Compressors are a necessity in complex, multi-pedal signal chains where the signal is all over the place. These pedals create a safety net that will prevent the tone from becoming unexpectedly warmer or brighter, which makes them perfect for any kind of pedal chain.

When not to use:

The only time you don’t need a compressor is if you are not using other pedals, to begin with.

Noise gate

Noise gate operates in a way that is completely different from compressors; rather than containing the frequencies, they keep background static and hum at a minimum.

In that sense, noise gates actually ‘expand’ the guitar’s dynamic (lower) range, allowing the quietest, barely audible sounds to replace bass-driven tones.

To put it plainly, noise gate pedals do not ‘eliminate’ hums, hisses, or static; they simply replace these sounds by even quieter ones that can’t be perceived by human ears.

When to use:

If you are standing close to your amp on stage, or if some of your pedals are creating feedback or static, a noise gate pedal will be able to take care of the issue.

When not to use:

Sometimes static and feedback sounds are what musicians are after, especially in rock and metal music genres. Noise gate pedals will prevent you from finding these sounds.

Filters

While dynamic-altering pedals set frequency-based ‘borders’ around your tone, filter pedals strengthen or weaken different frequency regions.

While dynamic-altering pedals are generally active all the time, filter pedals are passive most of the time and are only activated when such effects are needed.

The wah-wah pedal is a perfect example of a filter pedal; it alters the entire frequency spectrum of the guitar when activated, creating unique and peculiar noises.

When to use:

Filter pedals change the guitar’s tone drastically, and they are best utilized when you want to accentuate certain parts of the song, such as the ending of a solo for example.

When not to use:

Filters rarely work well when used as standalone pedals, so you shouldn’t rely on them too much if you don’t have a quality distortion/overdrive pedal in your rig as well.

Modulators

Modulator effect pedals change the strength of the signal, by either mixing it with another signal or by splitting it in two. Some of the most popular modulators are chorus pedals, flangers, phasers, tremolos, and vibratos.

Generally speaking, all of these effect pedals affect the strength of your guitar’s signal, creating different variations in terms of pitch.

Chorus pedals aim to replicate the effect of actual choirs or string orchestras; these pedals split the signal into numerous smaller fragments, each being slightly different than the next in timbre.

Flanger pedals create artificial effect sounds that resemble those that airplanes make; phaser pedals are quite similar, but instead of mixing two distinctly different signal parts, only one part is actually altered (phased).

When to use:

Modulation effects can be dramatic or mellow, dramatic or subtle. They can completely change the dynamic and feeling of a song, or they can simply add nuanced details, making a riff a bit fuller, but unchanged.

These pedals are generally great to use in practically every scenario as they enrich the guitar’s tone and timbre by adding extra layers to the signal.

When not to use:

Modulators are very difficult to master, and oftentimes they can lure musicians into thinking that they need ‘more’. Actually, ‘less is more’ applies here perfectly, especially if you don’t have a well-shaped idea of what fragments of the song you want to modulate.

Time-based effects

The pedals that fall under this category are so different that a general definition wouldn’t be able to encompass them all.

What they all have in common is that they all change the time at which the signal ‘hits’, whether it be by delaying it, making it ‘echo’, or playing it back as a ‘loop’.

Delay pedals ‘duplicate’ the signal, playing the second one back right after the initial one. The duplicated instances and the speed at which they are emerging after the original signal can be specified with most pedals.

Loop pedals are basically used to create ‘backing tracks’ or better said, ‘backing riffs’. Musicians can record a lick with them and play it back within a repeating cycle.

Reverb pedals can be used to simulate sounds that would have otherwise be produced in acoustic spaces, like for instance halls or churches. 

When to use:

Just like modulators, time-based pedals can be used to fill in the sonic gaps in your guitar’s tone regardless of the situation. They can make your tone sound a bit fuller, and they are perfect for experimentation with other guitar effect pedals.

When not to use:

Time-based effects create ambiance but take away the ‘clean’ bit of the song. They shouldn’t be used with hooks and parts that are meant to be ‘catchy’.

Conclusion

Guitar pedals are wonderful tools that can completely reshape how an instrument sounds and projects through the amp.

We hope that we’ve provided you with useful tips on how different types of pedals can be utilized, and keep in mind that these are only pieces of advice; you are free and even encouraged to experiment and think outside of the box. After all, that’s what music is all about.

Cheap Synthesizers for Beginners: What to Buy in 2020

Sound engineers, mixers, producers, and artists know that a cheap synthesizer wasn’t always an option.

High-quality sound engines used to be premium hardware for only the most dedicated and well-equipped studios.

Now, keyboards, modules, and even pocket-sized synthesizers can be purchased for a relatively low cost.

The size of the synthesizer, whether it’s analog or digital, the features it offers, and the reputation of its brand all play into which cheap synthesizer is the best for beginners.

Since not all beginners are the same, there may not be a one size synthesizer to fit all sound engineers.

That’s why we compiled this list of the 5 best cheap synthesizers for beginners, including their pros and cons and main features.

We also made a buying guide to help you compare the major features between not only these brands but also any that you may find on your own.

The best synthesizer is a combination of your needs with the value you can get on your budget. This list should help you narrow it down.

5 Best Cheap Synthesizers: Reviews

Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer

Arturia is an innovative company and this hybrid synthesizer is our top pick all around for beginners.

It’s not the cheapest synthesizer on this list or the most portable, but it has a balance of features and high-end technology that makes it a great pick in general.

This 25-key paraphonic synth has a modern aftertouch keyboard. The hybrid hardware features a ton of high-end options for mixing and producing, including a wavetable, digital oscillator, modulation matrix, and analog filters.

The touch plate offers an unconventional way to control compositions but the options for sound palettes and sonic templates are amazing for the price.

Among these modes are enough software options for any beginner to try out different things and get the feel for their new synth. These include Harmonic OSC, KarplusStrong, Texturer, and Superwave.

The Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer is versatile in both its hardware options and its sound output.

Real-time sequence creation, randomization, and an arpeggiator are just a few key options that let composers get an incredible range of sound out of this cheap synth, with enough variety to make it a perfect pick for beginners.

Pros

  • Expressive touch plate
  • Hybrid software options
  • Wavetable and digital oscillators
  • Analog filters
  • Small size

Cons

  • Touch sensitive keyboards aren’t for everyone
  • Factory presets are a bit outdated

Korg MS20 Mini Analog Synthesizer

We couldn’t do this list without an entry by the upscale synthesizer manufacturer, Korg.

However, you should know that this mini analog synthesizer is the priciest on this list, which is why it’s our premium option out of all the “cheap” synthesizers out there.

Beginners that want to come out of the gate with a big investment in their mixing or composing career should consider the Korg MS20 as the most expensive beginner’s synthesizer they should be looking at.

The Korg Mini Analog Synthesizer has self-oscillating high and low-pass filters with an external signal processor and flexible patching system.

It plugs in with a USB MIDI as well as a 5-pin MIDI. Those who are familiar with the Korg MS-20 should be familiar with its reputation – this is the same tech in a smaller package.

The same vibrant leads and resonant bases can be produced with the same premium features, including two VCFs, two VCAs, a noise generator, and more.

If you’re a beginner who knows they want to get into premium analog mixing and feel like you’ll shell out for a premium model eventually anyway, this Korg MS20 Mini is the cheapest of the high-end premium options from the company that makes it the best of the best.

Pros

  • Vibrant leads and resonant bases
  • Adaptable mixing technology, including two VCFs and two VCAs
  • Two ways to plug in
  • High and low-pass filters
  • Noise generator

Cons

  • Premium price for the cheap list

Roland TB-03 Bass Line Boutique Synthesizer

This cheaper version of a full-size Roland TB-303 Synthesizer features the same realistic recreation of the TB-303’s baseline features.

This portable version, however, features an LED display, MIDI control, overdrive and delay effects, fine tempo control, and other pattern creation modes.

Other than that, the Roland TB-03 Bass Line Boutique Synthesizer has the same sound and user interface as the original version, with hands-on control over parameters like resonance, envelope mode, cutoff, decay, and accent.

This synth is battery powered and can send its control information to a studio controller via a USB or MIDI port while also functioning as an audio interface.

With similar but smaller construction and the same features as the premium TB-303 synthesizer from Roland, this portable analog synthesizer should work perfectly for beginners.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • LED display
  • A variety of programmable effects and creation modes
  • Portability and multiple interfaces

Cons

  • The accent isn’t as good as the premium synth model

IK Multimedia UNO Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer

Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer from IK Multimedia has 2 oscillators and a multimode filter. It can be easily programmed with 100 presets and taken on the go anywhere.

It has a 2-octave multi-touch keyboard, which is ideal for a portable synth, and it comes with an arpeggiator and step sequencer.

The IK Multimedia UNO Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer can be used on the go or plugged into a computer sound station or MIDI keyboard in the studio. It can be battery or USB-powered as the need arises.

IK Multimedia is famous for its hands-on programmability and advanced synthesis features.

Multiple independent VCOs, different waveforms, real-time sequences, an editor app optimized for Mac, PC, and iOS, onboard presets, and a 2-pole multimode filter with band-pass filtering round at an inclusive package for a beginning sound designer.

Pros

  • 2-oscillator monophonic system
  • All-analog audio
  • Multi-mode filter
  • Arpeggiator and step sequencer
  • Intuitive touch keyboard

Cons

  • No lit buttons or display

STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer

For those looking for the cheapest and most completely portable synth out there, this Portable Analog Synthesizer from STYLOPHONE is a perfect pick.

It has two interfaces: a mini keyboard to play notes and a sound strip that can slide between pitches. Battery operated and with a built-in speaker, this synthesizer is the ultimate choice for portability.

It has an audio line out for headphones or speakers as well as a low pass filter, envelope effect, and LFO. It can be switched between octaves and modulated with a pulse width switch to create a chorus effect.

The STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer is a great portable secondary model for a professional or a budget pick with some great features for a beginner.

Stylophone is an iconic model and this cheap, portable version of its next-gen technology is a great starting point for anyone’s music design gig.

Pros

  • Rich sound with effects features
  • Portability
  • Internal speaker
  • Sub octaves
  • Two interfaces
  • Budget price

Cons

  • Stylus wire is too short

Best Cheap Synthesizers for Beginners: Buying Guide

In order to buy a synthesizer that’s perfect for your needs, you should compare the features you value and your personal budget against the models we listed.

They feature a range of prices and technology, so one of them is bound to be a good fit for beginners looking for cheap synthesizers.

Technology

Each synthesizer comes with different modes, presets, mixes, and features. We tried to summarize them for you in the individual product reviews.

Since you’re a beginner and don’t know exactly what you want, you should choose a synthesizer with a ton of presets and different manipulation modes.

Being able to freely control the music mode and the mix is essential when you don’t know exactly what you’re buying.

We chose respected brands so you would have a pick of well-built technology with different wavetables, digital oscillation, modulation matrices, and analog filters.

Interface

The interface factors into the technology but should be its own separate concern for beginners. Some synthesizers have a touchpad keyboard and others have a regular keyboard.

Some feature two full octaves and others switch between them. Since the interface will allow you to mix and design music, your creative flow depends on an intuitive setup.

We listed good options for either interface in this article, but since you can’t get both, you may just have to guess what you will prefer.

The ability to plug into a studio computer or external speakers also makes a difference in terms of the interface, and thankfully that’s much easier to plan for just by looking at the specs.

Construction

You want a sturdy synthesizer, especially if you plan on making it portable. The size of the device factors into the kind of work you hope to do, whether you plan on mixing with headphones on a car or plane ride or prefer to keep the synth at a workstation in a studio.

We put options on this list for both preferences so that no matter where you plan on using this synthesizer, it will work for you so long as you keep this criterion in mind.

Construction and portability also factor into the power source. Some synthesizers are battery-powered and some can run on USB power, which makes a difference if you want to take it on the go.

Some are pocket-sized and some are full keyboards: it just depends on what you’re looking for.

Analog vs Digital

Digital synthesizers have some advantages of technology and can be hybrid devices, like our top pick, the Arturio MicroFreak.

In general, digital synths have more complicated interfaces, more advanced displays, and lit keys.

This isn’t the general recommendation for beginners since they can be more complicated to operate and can run more expensive.

We recommend saving on cost and on headaches with the interface to opt for analog synths or hybrid models.

For those that aren’t positive what they’re doing, analog synths should prove more efficient.

Cost

The cost range on this list is large: from less than a hundred dollars to over five hundred.

We did this so you could find something for your needs no matter your budget, whether it’s a cheaper pocket synthesizer or a full studio-ready model with displays and all the bells and whistles of hybrid analog and digital technology.

The Takeaway

A synthesizer is an indispensable piece of equipment for a budding sound designer, producer, mixer, or composer.

These machines can run into the thousands of dollars, however, and beginners need cheap options so they can make a name for themselves and maybe buy the big stuff later.

This list of 5 options offers any beginner the chance to add quality sound equipment to their studio without breaking the bank.

Some are more budget-friendly than others, but we tried to give you a heads up on where each one fits into the market spectrum and the features they offer.

For many beginners that don’t know which features they need yet, prioritizing a good interface and a ton of modes could be the best bet.

That’s why we chose the Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer as our best overall pick for cheap synthesizers for beginners to buy in 2020.

Its after-touch keyboard is slick and modern while its hybrid hardware offers a ton of premium features at a mid-low budget range. These include a wave-table, digital oscillation, modulation matrix, and analog filters.

Once you’ve discovered which features are important to you, you may be able to shell out for a more premium synthesizer.

Until then, use these budget options to find your feet, gauge how much optimization you need, and get your audio mixing, composing, or designing career off the ground.

Best Online Mastering Service [2022]

Wellcome to our article on the BEST Online Mastering Service! Mastering and mixing an audio track is a craft that takes years and years to master (no pun intended). However, improvements in artificial intelligence and music production software have made it so that this skill actually isn’t really necessary to learn anymore.

Today’s article will show you exactly how cheap and good some of the available INSTANT online mastering services are.

They obviously are not perfect. We are of course talking about on-the-spot instant mastering, and not just going and filing an order on-line for a human to master your tracks later. There is no human interaction with these online mastering service tools, you are the only human hearing them.

At the end of the day, there’s no way for these tools to know what your vision for the track is, and nothing beats the personal touch of an engineer.

Having said that, all of the tools tested in this article improved our track pretty much instantly at a very small cost. Some of the best online mastering service products were truly mind blowing, producing radio-ready tracks in a matter of minutes.

We have no doubt that these platforms will open the doors for hundreds of thousands of home producers and artists, allowing them to have good quality mixes in the time it takes to drink a coffee.

And if you want updates leave your e-mail below.

NOTE: If you are on a mobile device, scroll to the right to see all picks and inside the cells to see all their content. So here they are, our favourite online mastering services, reviewed:

Product Name Main Features Export Formats available Rating / Pricing
Cloudbounce
26 different settings for the final mix.

Freebies included: A Crash Course in Mixing (PDF), a bunch of Ableton templates and a Logic Pro template

Manual mastering tool with Abbey Road Studios option
16 bit WAV

24 bit WAV

MP3
9.4
CHECK PRICING OPTIONS
Aimastering.com
Automatic video creation

Automatic Youtube loudness setting

Limiter, ceiling, oversampling, sound quality, sample rate, low and high cut controls

Easy mastering mode

Huge range of statistics on pre and post mastering track

API for developers
16 bit WAV

24 bit WAV

32 bit WAV

MP3.
8.4
CHECK PRICING OPTIONS
Landr
Distribution tool for spotify apple music, google play music, amazon music, pandora and beatport.

Collaboration / Feedback tool

Reference mastering

2 master controls: Style (warm, balanced, or open) and Intensity (low, medium, or high)
LO-RES MP3 (192kbps)

HI-RES MP3

(320kbps)

WAV (16bit)

HD WAV (24bit)
8.1
CHECK PRICING OPTIONS

# BEST ONLINE MASTERING SERVICE – Cloudbounce Review

And here it is: Cloudbounce. Having launched in 2015, they’re also a somewhat familiar name in the industry.

Unlike other Online Mastering Services in the list, Cloudbounce has a more stripped down approach to mastering, offering solely their mastering tool, and no other bells and whistles.

It’s interface also isn’t as shiny and clean as some other tools in this list, though it makes up for it with the additional controls and settings for the master sound that other tools don’t offer.

We really prefer a minimal/stripped down interface because in the end we want great mastering for cheap.

Cloudbounce Pros:

  1. Relatively cheaper than competitors (mixes start at 9$).
  2. Different pricing plans available (per mix, per month, per year).
  3. 26 different settings for the final mix.
  4. 3 output formats: 16 bit WAV, 24 bit WAV, MP3.
  5. Lightning fast.
  6. A pack of freebies are included with every account: A Crash Course in Mixing (PDF), a bunch of Ableton templates and a Logic Pro template file for your mixes.

Cloudbounce Cons:

  1. Interface was often confusing, with banners and footers obstructing buttons and menus
  2. No additional features besides mastering (ie no distribuiton, feedback, etc)

Cloudbounce: Our Rating: 9.4/10

Speed: 9.3/10

As with most tools in the list, the upload, preview and mastering took only a matter of a few minutes. This was perhaps the fastest service in the list. Throughout this whole experiment, the speed at which these masters are produced was what most surprised us.

Interface: 7.6/10

It seems like a small investment in a web designer could make this tool so much better, but unfortunately, it’s still quite clunky and unfriendly to the user.

Quality of Mix: 9.5/10

The out-of-the box mix (pre-customisation) sounded really good. In our opinion, a bit aggressive and with a lot of loudness and attack, but this was also due to the nature of the track. After correcting this with the many customisation options, the track ended up sounding great.

And here is where Cloudbounce Online Mastering Service really stands out. It has hundreds of different possible combinations between the two controls (musical genre and mastering controls) that allow you to play around until you find the perfect mix. It also sounds extremely well for what it is.

Whilst the first control (musical genre) is pretty straightforward, the mastering controls allows for much more customisation. It allows you to boost low, mid, and high sections of the music, add brightness, warmth, loudness, and more.

Due to this feature alone, we award Cloudbounce the highest grade in the list of BEST Online Mastering Service providers, in terms of mix quality

Additional Tools: 7.5/10

There was only one additional tool we could find, however, it’s one we quite enjoyed. After mastering the track, there is an upgrade available, which allows you to send the track to the abbey road studios for manual mastering by one of their engineers.

We thought this was pretty cool. This will cost you around 100$ and allows you to get a human touch on your AI powered mix.

This service will probably rely heavily on template files and presets, though its still a great way of improving the mix without investing that much.

-> Try CloudBounce for free

#2nd Choice Online Mastering Service – AImastering.com (by Bakuage) Review

Bakuage’s AImastering.com is a pretty unconventional choice for our list. You won’t find them in a lot of lists, and that’s really unfortunate, because we actually loved their AI.

If you have some technical knowledge of how to master a track, you’ll have a lot of fun with AImastering.com Online Mastering Service.

It includes a youtube loudness feature and automatically creates a downloadable video for your song, so if you use youtube as a promotion platform for your work, this is an absolute no-brainer. But our favourite feature was undoubtedly the “statistics” page of the mix.

After the AI finishes the master, it creates some very interesting statistics including “professionally”, which is how close the track sounds to a commercial track. This kind of “gamifies” your production and mixing skills and allows you to benchmark your progression as a musician- very cool!

There’s a bunch of other analytics provided such as loudness and waveform analysis that really allow you to perfect your track and compare pre-master and master versions.

It’s not all roses though. We did face some technical issues, hitting a 502 page when trying to download the master

AImastering.com Pros:

  1. Automatic video creation for youtube.
  2. Youtube loudness setting.
  3. Controls for limiter, ceiling, oversampling, sound quality, sample rate, low and high cut.
  4. 4 output formats: 3 WAVs, 1 MP3
  5. Option to preserve bass. Or not- might result in distorted bass.
  6. Easy mastering mode– focuses on loudness only.
  7. Statistics given: Loudness, RMS Peak, True Peak, True Peak(15kHz lowpass), Loudness Range, YouTube Loudness, Micro Dynamics Space Professionality, Acoustic Entropy, Ear Damage, Dissonance
  8. Loads of graphs and analytics provided.
  9. Relatively affordable– 1 free master, then 9.99$/master, or 29$/month for unlimited masters.
  10. API open for developers.

AImastering.com Cons:

  1. Some bugs were encountered.
  2. Docs could be better written

AImastering.com: Our Rating: 8.4/10

Speed: 9.0/10

AImastering took slightly longer than it’s competitors, though it was still very fast. Within 10 minutes, we had a great sounding mix.

Interface: 8.4/10

The interface, copy, and help docs could be improved. Their homepage simply states “Free Mastering is Available”, which might be a bit confusing for a somebody who stumbles upon the site. However, despite not being very flashy, the interface works well and everything is easy to locate.

Quality of the Mix: 9.3/10

Here, we’re considering the master produced with the standard options. Due to the many controls included in the tool, the range of tracks produced is huge. Therefore, we’re sticking to the “easy” mode of using AImastering.com

Overall, another solid mix. It’s really hard to set it apart from the other tools in the mix, though we find this track to have less loudness and bit more warmth out of the box.

Much like the other tools in the list, the final result was more than ready for distribution on the online platforms, which clip and compress a lot of the nuances of a track anyway.

Additional Tools: 7.0/10

In terms of additional tools we could only the video creator, which was pretty cool, but honestly not that useful if you’re not using youtube. And even if you are, you’d probably want to invest a bit more in a proper video.

MORE INFO

Landr Online Mastering Review

Landr is a household name in the online AI powered mastering industry. Developed by the Canadian company MixGenius, it’s been around for a while and it keeps expanding its tools, now also offering distribution, collaboration, promotion tools, and even rent-to-own plugins.

Landr Pros:

  1. Includes a distribution / release tool for spotify apple music, google play music, amazon music, pandora and beatport.
  2. Really clean and pleasant interface.
  3. Includes a collaboration tool which allows you to share masters and get feedback.
  4. Allows for reference mastering.
  5. 2 controls to customise master: Style (warm, balanced, or open) and Intensity (low, medium, or high)
  6. Different pricing models available (per mix, per month).

Landr Cons:

  1. Less than stellar customer support, according to several reviews.
  2. Distribution tool can take a few days to work.
  3. Limited master customisation options.

Landr: Online Mastering Service – Our Rating: 8.1 out of 10

Speed: 9.2/10

The mix preview took about 5 minutes to prepare, whilst the actual mix took about 10 to 15 minutes. The app works in the background so you can close the browser and check back on it later.

Interface: 9.7/10

As previously mentioned, this was probably the most enjoyable interface to work with. Everything was where we expected it to be, and the layouts simply look good.

Quality of Mix: 8.3/10

We provided a rather low-quality, uncompressed hip hop instrumental track. The result was notably cleaner, louder, and overall quite impressive.

Playing around with the customisation controls (style and intensity) yielded slight differences in the mix, though the out-of-the-box mix ended up being our favourite. The reference mastering tool also caught our attention, though again, we didn’t notice a huge difference in the mix after uploading a classic hip hop track from our library.

If you’re looking for a more customisable Online Mastering Service, then you might want to keep on reading our reviews.

But overall, it kind of blew our minds. The final result was pretty much radio ready and was a huge improvement from the track provided. Some nuances, tones, and little tricks might have been added by a professional engineer, but the final result was very good- a no-thrills simple mix that was very pleasant to hear.

Additional tools: 9.4/10

The standout tool is undoubtedly the ability to release your tracks directly to the major streaming platforms.

This saves a ton of work and in our experience, worked relatively well, taking only a couple of days until the tracks were available in all the platforms. Some users have complained of slow release times, so we can’t guarantee that all users will have the same experience as us.

The collaboration tool was interesting, but in our opinion, not that useful, specially because the mix can’t be customised beyond 2 controls. So even if you manage to get great feedback on your track, there’s not much you can do with it.

Here’s a tip, you can actually try Landr for free, so if you go ahead and sign up, upload your mix, and wait a few minutes, you’ll be able to judge for yourself.

Landr vs Cloudbounce Online Mastering Service Comparison

After reviewing these first two Online Mastering Services, we’ve gathered some thoughts and notes about they compared.

Here’s our rundown:

Landr is a better investment for artists looking to focus only on production and creation of music. There aren’t many ways to customise the mix, and it provides an easy distribution system.

If you want to eliminate the amount of decisions during these stages, then Landr is your tool. Create a track, upload it to Landr, have them distribute it, and go back to the studio.

Cloudbounce is more of a no-thrills solution that requires a bit more work.

You’ll spend more time customising the master, and you won’t be able to distribute or promote the track directly through the platform. But to be honest, we’re here for mastering so extras don’t count that much.

Cloudbounce is, in our opinion, the best solution if you’re interested exclusively in the quality of the mix.

It gives you way more style and mixing options, even allowing you to send it to a very reputable studio in case you’re not satisfied with the cloudbounce version.

eMastered vs Landr Online Mastering Service Comparison

Our final comparison is between Landr and eMastered. We got asked by one of our readers to compare the two, so we thought we’d give eMastered a try and see how it stacks up. Here are our thoughts:

eMastered offers more control over the mix, with 6 controls and the option to use a reference for mastering. However, the Landr AI is, in our opinion, superior a producing a clean and loud track.

When it comes to pricing, Landr starts at a way lower price point, almost a third of eMastered. This is for the basic subscription though. The advanced Landr sub is still cheaper, but the Pro will be slightly more expensive.

How much should mastering cost?

Mastering budgets live in a spectrum. A master from a top shelf studio will set you back several thousand dollars, whilst there are online mastering tools that are as cheap as 19$. But how should you decided how much to spend?

Like most things in life, you roughly get what you pay for. However, for a very small investment, you can get your track sounding pretty good, even radio quality. By very small investment, we mean under 100$, through an automated service such as one of the ones listed above. This represents the best return on your investment. If you’re uploading your track to youtube, or a social network such as instagram or facebook, a lot of the quality will be lost anyway.

And if you’re a professional musician, who expects to have their songs played on the radio or needs high fidelity masters, you should be ready to spend a few hundred dollars in a studio such as Abbey Road, who now offers an online mastering service.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it folks! Our favourite Online Mastering Services. If you made this far, we’re sure you’re ready to bite the bullet and try out one of the services on this list. At the end of the day, most services offer a free master as a trial, so you don’t have much to loose. And as always, if you have any experience with any of the softwares in the list, post your thoughts below!

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