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As NAMM opens its doors, the new standalone mastering software (& app) announced by IK Multimedia announced earlier this month now available to pre-order. Working in partnership with Lurssen Mastering in LA, this was initially described as a “totally unique” and “groundbreaking” product to revolutionise mastering. Although I’m sure it functions well and sounds good, details are now coming to light that beg the question: is this really the start of a revolution?

Based around the renowned mastering console at Lurssen Mastering LA and developed by Gavin Lurssen, Reuben Cohen and their team over many years, this new software is available for Mac & PC, as well as Apple’s iPad. The iPad app is free to download, whereas the desktop version is on pre-order today for USD 239.99, and USD 359.99 in the future. One wonders how different the iPad app will be.

Described as using the philosophy “a whole is greater than the sum of its parts” information on those “parts” are now becoming clear. The software can be run as a standalone application, or as an Audio Units, VST 2, VST 3 or AAX plug-in inside your DAW. IK Multimedia have been tasked with modelling the analogue equipment used at Lurssen Mastering. Tools include various EQ and dynamics modules. This isn’t groundbreaking in itself, but the emphasis is on the unique workflow and processing chain developed at Lurssen Mastering.

So, is this really “groundbreaking” in mastering? Having the software available as an iPad app and allowing users to master on the move is certainly going to be appealing for some. However, couple this with some additional information now available, and I’m still left questioning how good the results will actually be. For example, IK suggest users choose from one of 20 available ‘styles’ based on the genre and feel of their track. These styles can be edited and saved as presets if desired, but reading that this software mastering console has been “designed to sound great without any tweaking required on your part”, is somewhat alarming to any professional.

Mastering is a fine art for a good reason, it takes years of experience to really get the best out of a mix, and then there’s the standard of the initial recording and mixing to consider. If this was marketed more clearly as a professional tool with the added benefits of mobility and capturing the unique sound of Lurssen Mastering, then I think it would be accepted more openly. However there is clearly a market for this and needless to say I am very curious to hear some results.

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