We hand over the studio keys to Logic’s new AI‑powered Mastering Assistant.
The recent 10.8 update to Logic (for macOS 13.5 or above) included quite a few new features, but the one that seems to be attracting the most interest is the automatic Mastering Assistant. This is based on machine learning (ML), or ‘AI’ as it tends to get called these days. While different styles of music require different approaches when it comes to mastering, my practical tests with Logic’s Mastering Assistant across a range of styles have proved encouraging, and there are some user‑adjustable parameters if you’re not in full agreement with the end result. Clearly, Mastering Assistant is no substitute for an experienced mastering engineer in a well‑equipped mastering suite, but when it comes to knocking your mixes into decent shape for transfer to streaming sites, it’s actually very effective.
Mastering Assistant has its own window, which is similar to that of a conventional plug‑in. Unlike other plug‑ins, however, it is only available in the output mix bus, not in tracks or buses. On Intel Macs you’re limited to a single operational mode called Clean, which does a pretty good job on most material. However, if you have an Apple Silicon machine, you get a choice of different mastering approaches courtesy of the Character menu, which offers a selection of Clean, Valve, Punch and Transparent modes. Clean is a good general‑purpose mode, which suits anything that needs to be clear yet punchy. According to Apple it works well on anything from EDM to acoustic music, and my tests seem to corroborate that.
According to Apple it works well on anything from EDM to acoustic music, and my tests seem to corroborate that.
Valve simulates valve circuitry, adding depth to the low end and lifting out the highs, with applications in both acoustic music and styles such as hip‑hop. Punch is a little more aggressive, placing more emphasis on the midrange, and is recommended for rock music and similar genres. Transparent is, we’re told, inspired by modern, tight‑sounding masters and can again be applied to pretty much any musical style. Realistically, the best option is just to try the different modes to see what sounds best for the song ,regardless of its musical genre. The results from these four options may not sound very different on first listening, but if you do comparisons of mixes done using the different modes you’ll find that they do sound different, and the chances are that one will suit your...