Mastering is one of the most important phases in your music production and the natural last creative step between mixing and streaming. Its job is to prepare your music for distribution with a commercial sound quality, allowing it to stand firmly next to the big names of today.
CloudBounce has been one of the major trailblazers in the field of fully automated AI-based mastering services since the company was founded in 2015. And with over 2 million tracks mastered for people from over 130 countries, CloudBounce has solidified its place in the modern producer’s toolkit.
The most recent paradigm shift to happen to mastering occurred in 2020, with the advent of the all-new CloudBounce Desktop App, which not only made the processing speed 10x faster, but also introduced a host of new features that avid CloudBounce users had been anxiously awaiting. Be it music for streaming or mastering DJ mixtapes, stems or sound libraries, CloudBounce gets you professional results instantly with no file length constraints.
In its most basic form, mastering with the native desktop app (for Mac and PC) couldn’t be more intuitive. When you upload a track, CloudBounce’s intelligent engine automatically analyzes it thoroughly to define the genre based on the track’s character, and then sets the suggested mastering parameters automatically. You can then simply adjust any of the parameters and loudness level to your preference. The final step is then to export your track(s) either as a single format or batch export, which you can do to a variety of formats.
However, understanding the app and its built-in features on a deeper level can give you much more control and help you get that competitive sound you’re looking for. Below are some guidelines for these areas.
Perfect Match with the CloudBounce Reference
One of the core advancements of the new desktop app is the Reference Matching feature. By default, the genre will automatically be selected based on the characteristics of your track in a fully-automated machine learning-assisted process. All of this happens as part of the track’s import and analysis process, where the machine learning algorithm selects a reference recommendation that best suits your specific track. You are free to explore any other options from the wide variety of genre references. It’s important to note that all changes within the desktop app are instant, and any genre selection will affect the sound characteristics of your track to begin with.
Another part of the reference matching is the Amount knob. This is used to control the strength of the matching. The control is set to 100% by default, but the range is designed in a way such that 0% does not match at all and 200% doubles or exaggerates the effectiveness of the matching. You can select any value within this range, but a well-balanced mix will get more subtle matching than a less detailed mix.
Another dimension of matching is the ability to use any track as a reference file. You can specify any track from the tracklist within the desktop app or bring in songs from your favorite artists as an external reference. The CloudBounce mastering engine will match the reference track’s characteristics to your track, making it sound alike.
Change the Mood with the EQ
CloudBounce has always been recognized as a versatile mastering tool that offers a wide selection of mastering options. In addition to the reference matching capabilities, the EQ section provides you with room to tweak further and is divided into three main frequency bands: Bass, Mid, and Brightness—plus a Warmth control option. You can freely select any single option individually or use any combination of EQ options to further enhance the mood of your track, ultimately creating your own sonic signature. Whether you strive for a darker overall tonality or perhaps you’d like to emphasize the crack of your vintage snare sound, it’s a total breeze with the desktop app.
Finding the Sweet Spot with the Loudness Knob
As a new feature, CloudBounce mastering now includes the ability to set the preferred loudness (LUFS) level for your final masters. Whatever your target is, you can now match it with the CloudBounce app. This is extremely helpful when trying to prepare your music for distribution on the different streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and others. Often, they require different standards for the masters, and this can present a challenge for many producers. CloudBounce has always started with the goal of creating a professional and commercially competitive master that will work on any medium or device.
The Loudness control works by letting you set the targeted LUFS value and use it as a limiter. You can apply more limiting to your music by turning the control clockwise. CloudBounce’s philosophy for loudness is to push the level as high as possible without compromising the quality—and while keeping with the aesthetics of the musical genre you’re working with. The limiting will only be applied to the extent that it’s required to meet the set loudness target value.
Loudness is set to -12 LUFS by default, which is usually a good starting point for any further adjustments. While the app is super-fast in all aspects of audio processing, it usually pays dividends to slow down and focus when adjusting the loudness level to find the true sweet spot for any particular track or album. Aim for making your music sound energetic, big, and punchy, while avoiding crushing the track with the limiter too hard. Start with the low LUFS levels and work your way up. When you find a spot where the track starts losing definition, pull the knob back a notch and you should be in a good place. We’d always recommend you go for the best sound quality first—not just strive for a certain value.
Batch Mastering in All Major Formats
Importing, mastering, and previewing tracks in batches is another intuitive new feature included in the app. This allows for processing EPs, albums, and compilations quickly, easily, and with a consistent sonic quality. You can reorder the tracks as you prefer and select custom options for each track. In this context, the Loudness knob works as a global LUFS control for the whole batch. This way, you’ll get that balanced, cohesive, and uniform loudness level from song to song—just like on your favorite artists’ albums.
When you have finished tweaking the sound of your tracks and are happy with the results, you’re ready to export the final masters. The desktop app supports all major file formats, including WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP3, and Ogg-Vorbis, as well as sample rates up to 96 kHz at 16 and 24-bit. You can easily export only one or all these formats at once with just a single click of a button.
We’ve now covered the basics. Hopefully, this gives you the keys for your own exploration with the CloudBounce desktop app.
CloudBounce as a company was built with the goal of helping music producers get super-fast, professional-level mastering results while making it accessible for everyone in a unique package. And with the new desktop app, we’ve taken a major leap into making this original idea come true. Now, it’s your turn to start tweaking and making great sounding tracks that you can be proud to share with the world.