AAMS Automatic Mastering Software

Brandon Drury —  September 2, 2008

Lately I’ve been through a transition. I’ve decided to open my mind and try out many of the modern tools and tactics that in the past I’ve avoided. Sample layering on drums has been a great example of a modern technique that has made my clients much happier. Recording guitars DI and then reamping them has been another. So even though I was apprehensive, I decided to give AAMS mastering software a try.

How AAMS Works
AAMS has the ability “scan” an audio file and save it as a “reference”. I don’t know the details, but it essentially recognizes the frequency response of whatever file you toss in it. I’m sure there is more going on than just frequency response analysis, but the general idea is to be able to clone the “vibe” of one track and then add that “vibe” to your track. This seems like a noble idea in theory. So does it really work?

AAMS In The Real World
I downloaded the free version (for a limited number of uses) and fired up a few of the various preset references and applied those to a mix I was working on for a local client. Each time the results were really bad. I said to myself “all is not lost”. I decided to scan a few different references from a few different albums that were in similar genres. After processing, I can’t say that I was any happier with the results. I didn’t feel like any of my mixes took on a similar “vibe” as the tracks I had selected as references.

Out of curiosity, I tried it on a dance music thingy I was making. This track consisted entirely of virtual instruments from MIDI land and I was very happy with the way the mixes sounded as is. After running them through various presets in AAMS, I was never happy. I thought that AAMS did a better job with the dance music stuff, but my initial vision simply was not respected by the software.

AAMS was way too aggressive. All the results reminded me of what I’ve seen numerous times in guys doing their very first mix on their 2bus. You can immediately hear extreme over equalization. There is only so much processing you can do after the tracks are mixed.

What Is Mastering?
I have to explain this so often and many people who’ve never even used professional mastering will argue to the death. Mastering is what you do to make a collection of great mixes sound like a cohesive album. Mastering takes care of more logistical type problems such as noise between tracks, amount of time between tracks, and overall volume level between tracks. Mastering is about minimizing the distractions from song to song.

Mastering is not about making up for inadequate mixes. It simply does not work that way. A mastering engineer has his hands tied when only dealing with the stereo mix. Mastering engineers don’t have the ability to adjust levels, manipulate eq, or manipulate effects on any of the individual tracks.

I’m not sure who created this myth that mastering will dramatically improve a mix, but they clearly have a different definition of “dramatic” than I do. It’s impossible for a mastering engineering to uphold the mixing engineer’s original intent and do something dramatic at the same time. Mastering requires a very soft touch.

AAMS Is No Mastering Engineer
I think AAMS has a major flaw. It’s ability to “analyze” a track is very poor compared to that of a skilled human being. The idea of scanning a square peg reference and cramming (Oh no! There’s that “cramming” word again!) that into a round hole is WAY too authoritarian for me. I used the phrase “square peg” because the processing that AAMS uses does not always fit what I believe is best for my mix.

Because AAMS is simply software, it has no way of knowing if I’m happy with my mix or not. When Eric Conn mastered an album for me, he asked me which mix best captivated the entire album so he could use that as his “reference” to decide what to go for on the entire album. (Remember, mastering is about tweaking individual tracks to have a similar vibe! It’s not about enhancing on a track by track basis.) Eric continually went back to this reference tune as he mastered more and more songs. It was brutally obvious that context was extremely important. Making each song “fit” in the puzzle was extremely important! He never once pulled out another artists mastered version to make my album sound more like that one. It just wouldn’t make sense to work in such a fashion.

AAMS goes through all lengths to make the analysis of my tracks match the analysis of whatever reference is selected. The only problem with “all lengths” is that it includes processing the track in a way that does not sound appealing. You see, sound quality is not really AAMS’s principle function. Improved sound quality is supposed to be a result of the analysis of processing, but that is very hit or miss.

Why Excessive Emulation Doesn’t Make Sense During Mastering
The entire concept behind AAMS is emulation. Emulation in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s totally acceptable for a musician to have “influences” and in the end the emulating of all these influences is a big part of coming up with something entirely new. I can live with that. However, it’s one thing for a guitarist to have influences like Eric Clapton and Kirk Hammet. It’s another thing to boost 110Hz by 6dB and cut 90Hz by 5dB to fit some kind of curve from another recording.

It needs to be said that using 5dB during mastering is A ROBO TON of EQ!!! I have a feeling that no mastering engineer would ever get this aggressive. Eric Conn told me that if more than 2dB of EQ is needed it’s probably time for a remix.

In my upcoming home recording book, I make multiple references to the fact that EQ changes are not necessarily the same thing as tone changes. You can never EQ Boston to sound like Queen. You can not EQ Brian Setzer to sound like Napalm Death. You can’t EQ Cindy Lauper to sound like Norah Jones. You can’t EQ an American to speak with a British accent. It just doesn’t work that way. There is much more going on than EQ in the sound of a recording. I think we can all agree on this. So emulating the EQ of another album doesn’t mean we’ll sound like that album. In fact, the emulation can actually cause us to sound even less like that album.

For example, lets just say that in order to mimic the frequency response of X major label production, I have to boost 110Hz by 6dB and I had to cut 90Hz by 5dB. Does this mean my kick drum will have the same massive girth and my bass track will have the same thickness as the major label recording? Not at all!

The tuning of the kick drum, the way it was recorded, and the way it was mixed may be relying on 90Hz to provide the foundation for the kick. Its’ very possible that cutting 90Hz by 5dB will cut the heart right out of that kick drum. Maybe boosting 110Hz will do extremely little to bring back the life and impact that was sucked out. So just because the foundation of the kick drum is @ 110Hz on X big boy recording doesn’t mean that our kick drum will benefit. A real mastering engineering (or even a half-assed mixing engineer) would immediately pick up on this and would not make entirely excessive decisions that wrecks the recording.

I think some beginners could assume that their 90Hz kick drum is “wrong” and the 110Hz kick drum is “right”. (Note: these numbers are entirely arbitrary). That is completely not the case. If 110Hz was “right’ you would have tracked and mixed it that way. (If you are looking for mastering to do the mixes for you, think again!) We all have our preferences as to where we want to hear our kick drum meat. There are no wrongs or rights as long as the music is effective.

The problem here is our excessive emulation has led us to make decisions that made our music less effective. What worked on X production that sounds great did not work in our example here. It was meant to be that our kick drum was supposed to sit at 90Hz and now we have lost that.

The same goes for the bass guitar. The “center” of our bass guitar may be really deep or it may be much higher. You never really know. The low end on Fuel’s first album “Sunburn” is dramatically deeper and thicker than that of Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” even though they both sit in the rock genre. There is no doubt about it. If you were to apply Fuels reference to any pre-mastered song on Appetite For Destruction, you’d end up with a dramatically boomier audio track. Appetite For Destruction never intended to have a big, thick bass guitar. It intended to have a nasty, distorted bass with lots of definition in the midrange.

Real Engineering vs AAMS
In my art masterpiece here it’s easy to see that with every engineering process there are two things that are required. We must have a source to deal with and we must have and we must have a vision as to what we want this source to sound like in the end. Then, using more of an Algebra-type of method we try to figure out what “X” is. We say “How do I take this source and get it to match my vision?”.

AAMS takes a different approach.

AAMS takes the source material, applies the processing based on a specific reference, and then spits out the result. There is no emphasis on “the vision”. Some may argue that we make the decision on what we want AAMS to sound like when we load a specific reference. Here lies the big problem. Just because we apply a James Taylor reference to our tune does not mean our tune will mimic James Taylor in any way. It’s supposed to, but in my experience it simply does not work as advertised because it’s too hard to predict wha that James Taylor reference will really do. It certainly doesn’t work without casualties.

The Search For Presets
I know that quite a few beginners in home recording have no problem with presets. This was discussed recently here on the Recording Review forum. However, what happens when we take the label off of all our presets and essentially have to blindly choose one preset or another based on listening? In the case of doing this with a compressor, it’s not that big of deal to hear if the compressor is doing what we want. In the case of AAMS, you have to process the file to really know. This can take 20 minutes or more.

In the time it takes me to find the most ideal AAMS preset I could have tracked, mixed, and mastered five albums. A person could search for months to find an AAMS reference that doesn’t tear up their mix. Why can’t a person just address mastering the old fashioned way even if the budget forces them to do it themselves. Import the wav file into your recording software of choice. Listen. If one mix has traits that stick out in a distracting manner from other mixes, address it the best you can.

You’ll find that if your vision in the mix has already been dealt with there really isn’t much you need to do, if anything. All you really need to do is make sure all the tunes have a similar, non-distracting tonality. That’s not overly difficult to do when compared to actually getting a song to sound exciting in the first place.

If You Can Find References…..
My only real gripe with AAMS is the fact that it’s hard to find references that actually make the mixes I’m working on actually sound good. I’ve already established that randomly grabbing a reference from a song in a similar genre is simply not good enough. There are too many differences that end up distorting my vision for the mix. It’s tough to find the time to try out multiple references. I tossed AAMS on my TV computer and it took 3 hours to process 6 songs in batch mode.

However, if you do manage to find references that actually work for your genre, AAMS does an decent job at evening out the differences. This is good if you totally lost your hearing in the war. If you lost your hearing in the war, you wouldn’t have made it this far though, son. If you are so incompetent that you can’t make a little .5dB cut at 120Hz, how in the hell did you track and mix and entire recording? Have more confidence in yourself!!!!

My Experiment
I had a theory that the best way to find a reference was to use the reference the big boys use when mastering. They choose the best sounding mix on the cd and use it as their reference. I did the same on a project I recently finished mixing. I picked the mix I liked best and made a reference out of it. I then applied that reference to all 6 songs. The end results was the best I’ve encountered yet.

I went ahead and mastered these songs the way I always do in Cubase. I made a 1dB cut @ 4k to one song. I put a multi-band compressor @ 2k on another song cutting a max of .5dB. I put a mult-band compressor up at 10k on another song cutting a max of .5dB. Done.

I think my manual version sounds better. AAMS did a dramatically better job since the reference I chose was suited for the mixes, but I think the fidelity of the manually mastered version is a hair better. If I was in an extreme hurry….well…AAMS takes so long to process that it would still be quicker to master it myself.

Conclusion
It’s hard as hell to find references that actually sound good with your mix. If you manage to find a good reference, AAMS can do the mastering for you in about 5x the time it would take you to do it yourself. If you can’t find references, you can waste months trying to find references that are compatible with your mixes. You can always create references with your own mixes, but if you are going to master one song, why not master the others.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

23 responses to AAMS Automatic Mastering Software

  1. Nice article Brandon. I’ve been wondering for some time if there was anything to AAMS. Can’t say I’m all that surprised by the result :-)

  2. I know it seems in the forums that I come to AAMS’s defence a lot. I guess I do. Personally, I don’t care whether you like it or not, I don’t work for AAMS. But if you’re going to do a review of it, you should at least cover all of its features. One such feature is the ability to over-ride everything. If you don’t want to use the EQ settings, use your own. Tweak them, don’t eq at all. It’s up to you. My car has semi-manual transmission. Most of the time I leave it in auto and just drive. But sometimes its just fun to use the stick. You even have the choice of different EQ models. Same for multiband compression and limiting. Having the ability to manually control settings does not make AAMS worthless.

    I don’t know what the power of your internet computer is, but it must be pretty bad. I can process a song in AAMS in about 4 minutes. Less if I dedicate the computer just to that task. And if I need to re-do a track for whatever reason (lets assume my reference wasn’t suitable), I can re-process in about 30-40 seconds. My computer isn’t new by any stretch, or really high powered.

    You might be expecting too much from AAMS. Trying to shape a song to another requires a sensible approach.

    I’m not sure there are too many mastering engineers who take a 30 second approach to mastering a track.

    AAMS is not ready to replace our highly skilled mastering engineers. It (or any similar product) probably never will be. But it has a value. I’ve used it, and had some success with it. I even think it did a better job of mastering my band’s album than our mastering engineer’s first attempt (we were getting the album mastered at around the time I was trying AAMS out). I would hope never to be in a situation of needing to use AAMS on a commercial product. But its not as useless as you’re making out here.

  3. But if you’re going to do a review of it, you should at least cover all of its features.

    This is a fair request. I probably could have dug deeper into this such a thing, but to be honest, I thought the article was long enough as is.

    One such feature is the ability to over-ride everything.

    I saw this. I didn’t see any reason to meddle in the affairs of AAMS. The idea was to see what analysis it thought was best and stick with it.

    I believe a person in the market for automatic mastering is doing so to either make the process faster or to make up for a lack of skill. If skill is required to use AAMS, I think that kills at least some spirit of the review.

    But sometimes its just fun to use the stick.

    Agreed. That’s when I fire up Cubase and do my usual “pretend mastering”.

    Having the ability to manually control settings does not make AAMS worthless.

    This was never the implication. I don’t think I listed this in my complaints.

    I can process a song in AAMS in about 4 minutes.

    Wow! Even my recording computer took over 10 minutes per song. My internet computers (I tried it on 2) are XP 2000 processors with 512MB and 1.5GB of RAM. My recording computer is an Athlon 64 2800 with 2GB of RAM>

    You might be expecting too much from AAMS. Trying to shape a song to another requires a sensible approach.

    You may be right. This “sensible” is the qualifier that I think ultimately conflicts a bit with the automatic.

    I’m not sure there are too many mastering engineers who take a 30 second approach to mastering a track.

    Where did I say this? My pretend mastering is much quicker than real deal mastering but that is because without the benefit of another set of ears, I’ve already weeded out the problems during mixing and most of the time I don’t feel the tracks need much. 30 second is VERY fast though. I’d guess a whole album takes about 20-30 minutes give or take to pretend master.

    But it has a value.

    I never said that AAMS had no value. I said that simply trying multiple references both from their list and my own list did not give desirable results and the processing was so long that it became a guessing game.

    With that said, I still feel there are some fundamentals that AAMS pushes the limits of. The big one being: If you’ve got a mix right where you want it, you want to be VERY delicate with any processing you do (especially if you are a laymen in mastering land like I am).

    Brandon

  4. Great article! I have been wondering if this software really did what it claimed. I thought it sounded to good to be true. Too bad though.

  5. Anthony Vincent October 20, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    It takes time to get a good master even with some of the best plugins and monitors. AAMS will give you a great starting point, and is well worth the money for those on a budget or muscians do not have the time for mastering.. In my opinon AAMS is very good A+. A few people on the net have made the comment on the length of time it takes to run the auto feature. Well, 10 to 15 min is nothing compared to the amount of time it would have taken to do a mastered version of a song at the same quality AAMS software produces. Unless your some kind of mastering wizard you can’t compare. What impressed me the most was how the auto feature applies compression. Either way if you like it or believe it or not AAMS is a great software

  6. Tryed it with it’s own references and the first couple of times it sounded like puss to be blunt,just obvious extreme eq boosts all over the shop. I think i found 1 preset where i said to myself,yes i can use this if a client requests some sort of ‘pseudo mastering’ cause i’ve already stated to them that i don’t do mastering or its much better if they get a fresh pair of ears on the project for mastering.

    I think the software authors should include an option for the software to automatically shutdown ur pc after its finished processing,like the review said,the processing takes a while. Or maybe u can take some power naps whilst the softwares doin its thing’.

  7. I also placed this in the AAMS forum.

    There is a controversy going on about this program and Har-bal, a program wich also claims to master automatically.

    I do have experience with both programs, my favor is Har-bal, but i use AAMS every once and a while.

    Does it work?
    Har-bal does, that’s for sure.
    AAMS can work, depending on your skills.

    I can imagine that for someone who’s job is to master, these programs are an attack on his skills.(at least he will feel it this way)

    For the ones like me who doesn’t have the money or the will to use someone elses experience it could be a solution.

    Every advantage does have it’s disadvantage and that is also the thing with these programs.

    I like them because they help me to understand the process of making nice sounding records wich everbody can appreciate.

    On the other hand, it makes the process of mastering more technical instead of creative and puts more pressure on the mixing part of the music.

    What’s best?i don’t know, we tend to forget that we make music for the masses and so far nobody has been able to predict what is a right sound and what is not.

    If it sounds good to everybody else, who am i to critisize the sound that a song has, is good or bad?Or the way the song is produced/mixed or mastered?

    For me every instrument that helps to get a nice sound is ok.
    grtz. Hans

  8. On the other hand, it makes the process of mastering more technical instead of creative and puts more pressure on the mixing part of the music.

    I personally look at mastering as being 99.5% technical anyway while mixing is 99.5% creative….more or less.

    Brandon

  9. I personally look at mastering as being 99.5% technical anyway while mixing is 99.5% creative….more or less.

    I agree,But there is still the believe out there that mastering is some kind of magical input and can fix a bad mix.

    You never will fix the mix if it is a bad one, either by ear or software.

    Hans

  10. I do not understand the methods of the review. First of all in trail AAMS does only about 6 tracks and then locks up. For most people this will be a couple of tracks mastered with aams for free. As a registred user with unlimited aams masterings i think you get the hang of it. Anyway the first track or mix i input into aams was way better then my initial mix. With this i used the standard RMS preset!
    Also afther a few months work with aams, 90% of all tracks sound way better. It’s the 10% that is not working is maybe a hassle to fix, but most of the time the mix is the issue here , not aams in my opinion. I would quess any user who inputs a mix into aams will have good results the first time. And most will not bother a -5db drop in EQ. Sometimes i just use aams suggestion and tranfer them to the mix, then re-input the changed mix. It works even better this way, fixing 95%! So no, i do not agree to the testing results and methods. I would not test a program that locks up. Also any mastering engineer will say aams is shit, if they would not they would cut themselves in the hands. This program does a good job! At least for the amateur and even i know pro studios working with it as well! So hey, i think this testing went to a brick wall again and again without thinking in another way or view. It just running the same directotion and hitting the same wall. I do not know if the manual was red before testing. But this program will lock processing afther 5 to 6 tracks anyway… So is this a good test ?

  11. First of all in trail AAMS does only about 6 tracks and then locks up.

    I’m not sure what you version you were using. In my trial I was given 50 “processes”. I counted an analysis of a track as a “process” and it counted the processing of a track as a “process”.

    I’m not sure how my methods for testing could be improved upon. I used it. It made my mixes sound worse.

    If I was willing to spend hours looking for the right reference it would have worked, but this doesn’t seem to be efficient to me.

    If your mixes sound better, that’s great! Keep using it! I’m just saying this product didn’t help me. With that said, I learned my lesson. I will never review a product again that I don’t like. Only positive reviews are of any value because telling a person who likes a product that you don’t like it leads to arguments and debates over subjective topics.

  12. You might as well have titled this article “why I think humans are better than computers”.

  13. mix reviews,…gues every one into diffrent styl of sound, I been mixin and mastering for few years now, used tools like oZone, T-racks, and also indivdual vst such as waves, one thing I came across was that the quality of a mix is very important for AAMS to work, when you use a reference file or load one form “e.g. a Roadrunner CD.” when you mastering manually you can hear frquncies and just cut em or raise them, however lets be logical AAMS just applies the refrence setting from your source file to your mix….

    With my exprience it works very well when applied to a mix with perfect levels on each track….also to get themaximum loudness normelize your track before putting it throu AAMS

  14. Hey to the above dude who posted about AAMS! I need some feedback on say 3 of my tracks / songs; please? I really don’t know squat about recording but just to get a basic sound idea down! I have not mastered any of my tracks. No compression, just a tweek of EQ on vocals and used a STERLING ST55 condenser mic on acoustics ( vocals too ) and added a hint of reverb to each. My songs are on Myspace.com/muhawrocks- tracks are ” Sensimilla ” , Graffiti Wall ” and Awake!…the others I need to rerecord!
    I’m learning! Care to comment! Thanx for your time and consideration!

    MUHAW

  15. I can see the argument against a product like AAMS. But the ONLY argument that is justified is when comparing it to human intervention. That’s a big “DUH!” to me.

    But there is still a lot of value in the product. I think the product doesn’t live up to the hype of “Auto Mastering”. But it does indeed live up to taking a mix that is out of proportion in the frequencies and “shapes” it to something idealistic. From that point one can do further processing.

    Imagine a rookie running a marathon and halfway through he stumbles. If there’s someone there to pick him up and get him going its a good thing. And the fall itself would have taught him some kind of lesson for future runs.

    So in that way you could say that many beginners and intermediates tend to fall into a trap in their mixes, thinking that they are moving in a good direction, only to find out later that their sounds are terrible. Doing a direct comparison to AAMS after the fact can wake you up and make you realize where you might have went wrong.

    I personally took some of my earlier attempts at mastering, which only sounded good in certain speakers, and ran them through AAMS and chose what I thought was the correct reference. It always spit out a file that would play in anything, sounding the same everytime. It may have missed “something”. At that point it was time to throw the file back into other processing, like Har-Bal and various other plugins.

    I can see where many “Mastering Engineers” would want to clutch onto their reputations and the status quo. But in reality, that’s NOT reality! There’s a new way to do things that is in the reaches of the home user. For once a home user can pump out commercial quality music without the over-priced junk that studios claim is the best. Just think about the argument of Pro Tools over Whatever Else. As it turns out Pro Tools is not “the best”. Nothing like that exists in this world. There are a lot of ways to do a single thing. And its up to the person to figure out how to get a result. But going with the flow of mainstream thinking is probably the most ignorant thing anyone can do. It just makes you a weakminded puppet of the popular.

    Plugins will dominate the world in a way that will make studios shut down. And it goes to show that we dont need someone teeling us that we need to pay $200 or more an hour to get a demo.

  16. I can see the argument against a product like AAMS. But the ONLY argument that is justified is when comparing it to human intervention. That’s a big “DUH!” to me

    Not to me. The other thing you need to compare AAMS to is non-human intervention (meaning no intervention at all). Especially after listening to 130+ mixes on http://forum.recordingreview.com/f110/ it’s obvious that the mega mega mega huge problem many beginners have is their abuse of the 2bus/pretend mastering process. They would have been better off just tossing a brickwall limiter on the 2bus and make sure the mix sounds absolutely bad ass with no other 2bus processing.

    When I get each song on an album to the point where I feel they can’t be improved, that’s the time to master. All that does, for me anyway, is give the tunes a similar vibe or maybe there is a slight problem that needs to be addressed throughout my mixes. The only other reason to do do real mastering (hiring a real mastering dude) is to get the checks and balances of an experienced set of ears listening in a different environment.

    Brandon

  17. I’ve recently tried AAMS demo. I’ve used Harbal previously. At first Harbal was misused by me, and I considered it fairly useless. However after I learned more about it and went easier with it, I found it very useful in revealing frequency problems in my mixes. This wasn’t a/b ing against some commercial song but A/B an adjusted spectrum against the non adjusted. For some reason on my system I contstantly found that during mixing, I got the mix sounding pretty good.. as ‘good as I could get’ (so I’d think). Check on nearfields, check on AKG k240s etc… ‘not bad’.

    Then I’d pop it in harbal, notice (visually) some wild pockets (more so than mad peaks – I guess I am guilty of being over cautious in mixing and tend to cut far more than boost – or did), I’d drag the frequency up a touch, not always hearing wild changes as I went but overall it looked smoother. Then I’d switch the EQ out and it would hit me how BAD my actual pure mix sounded! It wasn’t a volume issue but a tonality issue. Perhaps on my system something is creating this constant tone problem. However in harbal I pretty much improve my output by almost 100% everytime based on being able to adjust the entire track’s frequency in different areas. Something I obviously find ‘hard’ to visualise on individual tracks while mixing (nor can I hear it during mixing).

    Maybe I’m not explaining to well but basically the track with harbal on compared to off are night and day. The pure mixdown from Cubase is hollow, harsh in the high mids, lacking warmth and with a very metallic tone that really contrasts badly with the much more ‘commercial’ sounding harbal corrected mix. After that I export (at 32bits still) then ‘master’ in wavelab using mild plugs where needed. Harbal isn’t my last stop by any means it just corrects bad frequencies.

    I wonder why I can’t hear them as bad (and they ARE bad) until I A/B during harbal? Why/how can a mix sound so good until you realise the frequency has holes and sounds fake, lifeless and distance once compared to a ‘corrected’ version? This is my #1 problem with mixing and hopefully it’s something common and maybe someone reading this could point out what to look for during mixing that is causing this. I don’t put anything harsh on the 2-buss during mixdown, and I don’t hit my converters hard on tracking and keep levels around or down below -6 in general (adding gain/limiting as the final stage in ‘mastering’ later). Maybe it was all the cuts I was making, having had the ‘make holes for instruments to not overlap in the eq’ mantra drummed into me in the last 15 years of reading about mixing… maybe I overdo it? Well I guess it has to be an eq issue in mixing if it’s an eq issue in harbal (rather than say booming bass or squished vocal compression which I don’t have a problem with).

    Anyway to AAMS. Having tried it on a ‘decent’ mix (corrected in harbal) it did quite well, I’d say it actually surpassed my self ‘pretend mastered’ master from wavelab in overall depth and involvement. However it wasn’t perfect and did sound a tad overdone in some areas. Surely spending more time with the tool and disabling/toning down those components would help. I do like your advice on choosing the best mix for the album as the reference (either AAMS or manual) as I’d not read that before! And sure sometimes I have mixes that sound much better overall than others.

    My point, finally, is that AAMS and Harbal can AT LEAST be used as references to ‘getting close’ to a better sound, even if it means going back into the mix as I often do after harballing and realising there’s ‘too much’ wrong. I only want to have small adjustments (if any) and then I know I’ve got a good mix – same applies to AAMS. If it doesn’t RUIN the mix, and makes mild changes at LEAST you can be more certain of your mixes, it acts as some kind of calibration that we outside of the ‘pro industry loop’ can rarely get. I would probably prefer to use AAMS as an advisor only, and fix 90% of what it makes ‘better’ back in the mix before rechecking. Ultimately though, Harbal is better for that for me as in my specific case it’s more about just the frequency problems, not everything and the kitchen sink as in AAMS. Both tools need to be treated with caution though and used more as learning aids towards better mixing rather than one stop shops for ‘great mastering’ (which as Brandon pointed out is actually the wrong term anyway for what AAMS is doing – harbal is not an all in one mastering solution either but it doesn’t really claim to be).

  18. Oh I forgot something about AAMS. I think I got 2 good (ok) results using what I assumed would be a good reference from the stock refs. Unfortunately the other 3 tracks I tried were pretty much killed by AAMS BUT crucically I already knew those 3 that were killed were no where near as well balanced/mixed as the 2 mixes that did better in AAMS. Again, a good ‘check’ of a ball park mix if nothing else.

    I still think more emphasis should go into good mixing practice as it’s there where all the problems can originate (and tracking) – eliminate or get skilled with them (and spend money on quality plugs there) and the ‘mastering’ should be more a technical formality than a hit-or-miss guessing game.

  19. Boys, why nobody ask this question: AAMS works only with 44.1kHz files.What can we do with it? Contemporary format is 24/96 (24 bit/96kHz).We can master only CD with this.(not DVD-Audio).Otherwise the program is a top one.

  20. i beg to differ on this review, as someone who does a lot of work for clients i think you went into the AAMS trying to find the magic formula. no software is perfect for everything and no software has been designed to be a one size fit all for any particular problem solving. AAMS works but it only improves on what you put it. i’ve had great results with AAMS, the sound is fuller and sounds great.

  21. AAMS works but it only improves on what you put it.

    Fair enough, but if it ONLY IMPROVES than why do they give you so many different preset/impulse thingies. If none of them have the ability to make a mix worse, I question their ability to make a mix better. Does that make sense?

    Brandon

  22. The only downside that i’ve seen with Aams is that it has little control over the song. I’m guessing that’s what you were driving it. The other downside would be it takes forever to analyse tracks. They could also update the reference files. Most of them are old. So i guess after taking your opinion on board i’ve decide to migrate to what normally works for me Har-Bal, waves and tracks for the warmth

  23. This software never worked for me. Crashed every time with various errors. The author didn’t like my tone when I expressed my frustration, so he invalidated my registration and kept my $100. Not that I needed to waste more time with the piece of garbage anyway, but I would have thought he’d be a little more contrite after selling me some trash software that doesn’t work. Live and learn. I learned Denis van der Velde is a thief.