What is mastering?
Mastering, often the final step in creating a song after it’s been mixed, seeks to achieve tonal balance and enhanced dynamics to present the best version to your listeners. This is done by optimizing your EQ so that the right pieces of your track stand out, balancing the stereo sound so your track feels full across left-to-right channels, and restoring your audio so that unwanted artifacts from the recording process don’t stand out.
What audio formats do you accept for mastering?
While SoundCloud accepts more audio formats than any other platform, mastering is limited to WAV (16 and 24 bit), FLAC, AIFF and MP3. For the highest fidelity masters, we recommend you upload in a lossless format.
What audio format do you export the master in?
Mastered files are delivered to you in the same format you provide to us. For example, if you upload a 16bit WAV file, your master will be delivered in 16bit WAV format.
For the highest fidelity, we recommend you upload in a lossless format such as WAV, FLAC, or AIFF.
How do you determine which part of my track to use when previewing the master?
We give this control to you. We think you know best what part of the track will give you the results you’re looking for. Before sending the track for processing, you select a 30-second preview for us to use. If you want to hear how the mastering styles apply across different parts of the song, simply go back to step 1, and select a different part of the song, and try again.
How many mastering styles can I choose from?
For now, we have four mastering styles to use. In time, we'll experiment with introducing more.
Our mastering engine is trained on over 1 million hours of tracks across every genre, instrument, and recording technique you can imagine.
Keep in mind though that the mastering style itself is just a set of goals for the track type. Each track is different and therefore the output of the style will be unique based on how you've mixed the track and what instruments are included.
What is the Intensity parameter?
Every track has a unique character and calls for varying levels of processing, EQ, compression, and so on. The intensity parameter gives you control over the amount of these changes applied to your track based on your preference. A value of 0 gives you a loudness-optimized version with no changes in dynamics while a value of 100 applies the full range of recommended improvements over the original.
Can I master a DJ set or podcast?
At this time, Mastering on SoundCloud does not support DJ sets or podcasts. The limit on a mastered track is currently set at 10 min in length.
Can I master a track I already have on SoundCloud?
Yes, you can master any track that you’ve uploaded to SoundCloud. Please note that when the master file is requested, we add the master as a version of your track and set it as the primary playable song for you and your listeners. Your original is preserved and can both versions can be downloaded at any time by you.
Will my master be published publicly to my SoundCloud account?
The public status of a track isn't determined by mastering. If you upload a private track, it will remain private. If you upload a public track, it will also remain public. When you complete the mastering process, we will make the master the version that your fans listen to. You can always download the original, and if you prefer it to the master, you can replace the master with the original.
What happens to my original file after mastering?
The mastered file will replace the original uploaded file, but no need to worry. Your pre-mastered file will be available for download on SoundCloud as well.
You are able to download both versions of the track by using the "download original files" button on your track editing page, next to the "replace files" button if you are on a Pro Unlimited plan.
Then you can also replace the mastered file with your pre-mastered file following these instructions.
How much does mastering a track cost?
The price is 4.99 USD per master or equivalent in your local currency. To find out the price to master your track with our new service, please head on over here.
If you are a Pro Unlimited subscriber, we will load you up with 3 free masters each month and give you the option to purchase additional masters for a discounted price. We encourage you to use those credits to master something you’ve been working on or choose from the tracks you’ve already uploaded to SoundCloud.
Do my free masters carry over to new months?
No. Free masters are limited to 3 per month. You can use them if you like, but if you don't they don't carry over into the next month. If you do not use them in a month, then when the next month rolls over you will still have 3. If you use all three in a month, when the next month rolls over, you will have three more.
The credits from your Pro Unlimited subscription will expire after every month if not used and they will be replaced with 3 new ones.
When do I get new free masters?
You get the 3 monthly free credits from your Pro Unlimited subscription based on your billing date. If you are an annual subscriber, it is based on the original date of signup.
Is a .wav file more expensive than a .mp3 file?
The price of each master is the same and file type does not affect the price.
Can I master files in bulk?
Currently you are only able to master tracks one by one. However, at the end of mastering one track, you can easily click "Master another" and start the process again.
Can I master tracks I don't own the copyright to?
No, like all uploads on SoundCloud you must be the copyright owner to mitigate any chance of your content being recognized in our content id system and taken down on behalf of the rights holder.
Can I master tracks that include samples of copyrighted material?
No, SoundCloud's content ID system will evaluate each track mastered and infringing content is recognized in the track, Mastering will be disabled for the track
I'm not happy with my mastered file, can I get a refund?
Our mastering service is non-refundable.
Will SoundCloud play my track at the level it's mastered?
Not always. This is because SoundCloud applies Loudness Normalization to your tracks as they’re played to listeners.
Mastering tips for SoundCloud
- Target the loudness level of your master at -14 dB integrated LUFS and keep it below -1 dB TP (True Peak) max. This is best for the lossy formats we use (Ogg/Vorbis and AAC) and will ensure no extra distortion is introduced in the transcoding process.
- If your master is louder than -14 dB integrated LUFS, make sure it stays below -2 dB TP (True Peak) max to avoid extra distortion. This is because louder tracks are more susceptible to extra distortion in the transcoding process.
To get started mastering your tracks, visit Mastering on SoundCloud, powered by Dolby.