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School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Disrupting the music industry with AI algorithms

Professor Josh Reiss

Professor of Audio Engineering

Audio production can be time consuming, labour-intensive and expensive. A new cloud-based audio mastering service, LandR Audio, uses artificial intelligence algorithms to produce professional – but accessible – audio mastering.

Music mastering is traditionally performed by a professional mixing engineer, who uses critical listening skills to balance out a song and edits multitrack audio by operating controls at a mixing desk. As an alternative, Professor Reiss and his team, based in Queen Mary's School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, developed intelligent signal processing tools that automate most of the audio and music production process.

In 2012, they launched a start-up called LandR, and from this company launched LandR Audio, an online intelligent music production service. LandR Audio uses the best practices in audio engineering and an advanced knowledge of human sound perception to make professional music mastering accessible to everyone, regardless of budget or project.

According to MusicRadar, the world's largest website for music makers, LandR was "the first company in the world to bring the power of Al and machine learning to audio production. LandR's automated instant mastering is a game-changer for many artists, giving them a quick, easy and affordable way of applying studio-grade polish."

Using AI to understand music production

First, the team created a new system to analyse the relationships between all incoming sounds, so multitrack audio can be manipulated and edited similarly to how a professional mixing engineer would approach it.

From this, the team developed a multitrack signal processing function that identifies individual sources of music, and identifies how these could be best mixed together. Both systems have been tested in both live sound and post-production environments.

The researchers also explored psychoacoustics – how humans understand sound. For example, they used advanced auditory models and extensive listening tests to understand how people hear complex sound mixtures. This research was incorporated into their design of the new Intelligent Systems within the platform. Intelligent Systems are technologically advanced machines, that perceive and respond to the world around them. Subsequent trials using listener ratings found this approach consistently outperformed against an amateur mix.

Working with Mr Mansbridge and Dr Gonzalez, both from Queen Mary University of London, Professor Reiss examined the automatic mixing of live music through a series of feasibility studies. This included the creation of new tools that would position and enhance sources, adjust gains and faders, correct time offers and split issues in multichannel audio.

All of these techniques operate in real time, while also ensuring the system is stable and preventing any acoustic feedback. These scientific breakthroughs have helped create intelligent, real-time systems able to perform the complex tasks of a professional sound engineer, and form the basis of LandR Audio.

I’m a big fan of LandR. The mastering tool is impressive – both in quality, speed and convenience.
— Globally renowned music producer Steve Levine

Future growth

Since its launch, LandR Audio has experienced continual and rapid growth in both amateur and professional markets. By 2017, the platform had 1,435,000 users, and by 2019 this has grown to over 3 million users from over 100 countries.

Three Queen Mary graduates have been employed at the company, and another five Queen Mary alumni have been rewarded through internships and financial incentives.

In 2017, LandR Audio launched a distribution service that allows artists to sell and distribute the music they master to most streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud. This has turned the LandR Audio platform into a full-service creative platform for music producers.

The following year, LandR added the ability to master audio from different sources, including videos and podcasts. To date, LandR Audio has been used to master over 9.5 million music tracks, more than all US mastering houses combined, making it a dominant name in the music mastering market.

Globally renowned music producer Steve Levine discussed LandR Audio in 2019, saying "I’m a big fan of LandR. The mastering tool is impressive – both in quality, speed and convenience. Recently, one of the bands I produced got a last-minute slot on BBC Introducing. We used LandR to master the record, and when it was played on the radio the following day, it sounded fantastic! It added a real sparkle to it."

This positive sentiment is echoed by Fast Company, the world’s leading business media brand, who recognised LandR in 2019 as one of the world’s more innovative companies in music.

Schools, institutes and research centres

School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

With a 130-year history, our School offers a vibrant, multi-disciplinary learning and research environment. Our enthusiasm for research defines our programmes, keeping our teaching exciting and relevant.

Centre for Digital Music

We are a world-leading, multi-disciplinary research group in the field of music and audio technology. Since our founding members joined Queen Mary in 2001, the Centre has grown to become arguably the UK’s leading digital music research group.