MasteringBOX, a concern from Valencia, Spain, has debuted a free MP3 online mastering utility. MasteringBOX claims it utilizes a “sophisticated algorithm that can detect the dynamic and spectral characteristics of the track being mastered and apply appropriate adjustments” – however, in our tests, it appears their “mastering” process just applies a generic loudness wash on the track. And the “free” part that appears over and over and over again in their marketing materials, is just for a 320kbs MP3, not the WAV, which requires a €108 per year subscription.
Aside from the ridiculous model holding a record on their homepage, their drag-and-drop interface, works as advertised. Simply drop your .wav or .aif file onto your browser and the backend uploads the file onto MasteringBOX’s servers for processing. The turnaround takes about five to ten minutes, and your mastered file is added to your account. A nice touch is the ability to preview a before/after, so you can determine if the MasterBOX bath is worth the effort.
We tried it with a problematic Drum ‘n’ Bass track, deep bass and brittle highs with tweaky acid lines decimating the Mids, and found, while MasteringBOX’s algorithm pumped the track with some sort of Limiter, it didn’t achieve nearly what a good standalone mastering application can accomplish.
Where MasteringBOX will come in handy is for 12-year-olds who want to sweeten up music that they’ve ripped from YouTube, Spotify or other online “players.” Using WireTap or another virtual recorder to capture the music they’re interested in and then dropping it into MasteringBOX, will not only add Loudness, but also rip it into a 320kbps MP3, perfect for migrating to their iOS device. We tested this on Ariana Grande’s collaboration with Zedd, Break Free, and even though we had to endure the insanely stupid video concept, we were able to successfully upload it to MasteringBOX, “master” and download a nice MP3. MasteringBOX’s algorithm slightly “over baked” the track, but it worked seamlessly. Another success was Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, which actually turned out fabulous using MasteringBOX.