Review: iZotope Ozone 6 Advanced
2015 has definitely started, and it just couldn’t start better! After some days off, I got back to the studio and spent some quality time with iZotope Ozone 6 Advanced, and if you don’t have a clue of what that is, I’ll make it simple to you: one of the best (if not the best) and most complete mastering plugin suites available. Let’s check it out!
Ozone 6 Advanced is a mastering plugin suite, which also works in standalone mode. It consist of various processors which you can use in any given order: 2 EQ modules (pre and post), a Dynamic EQ module, a Multi band Compressor module, an exciter module, a Stereo imager module and a Limiter module. All modules but the imager and limiter can be used in stereo or M/S, which is a great addition in version 6! Also, EQ modules can be used as L/R too, so, you can Eq your left and right channels slightly different, and yes, this can bring lots of phase issues, but as we’ll see later, you can fix that right in the EQ module.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Ozone 6 Advanced, works as standalone too, which is a very neat idea, since this plugin takes a lot of processing power from your computer, so, if you will be mastering just with Ozone, you might wanna use this in standalone mode to save some processing power.
There are two EQ modules, which are meant to be used as pre and post EQ, so, the best way for me to use them is: PRE: before any dynamic processor; POST: at the end of the chain, right before the limiter. But, essentially, both EQs have the same features.
As I’ve said before, they can be used in stereo, M/S or L/R. There are two global modes: Analog and Digital. As you can imagine, analog mode has a little more character, but digital, has more control options like phase control (crucial when using in L/R) and surgical mode, which drastically changes the curves. Also, there are matching options, from reference track, pink noise (3 dB guide) and 6 dB guide. Each EQ has 8 bands (but, my advice is that if you need to use the 8 bands when mastering, you should probably check your mix first). Each mode can be set to High pass, Low Shelf, Bell, High Shelf and Low Pass. Besides each of the EQ types has its own modes, HP/LP can be set to flat, resonant and brickwall; Shelves can be set to analog, vintage, baxandall or resonant, and Bell can be set to peak, proportional Q or band shelf. Yes, this is a lot of control for any EQ!
As with the EQ modules, the dynamic eq can be set to work in Stereo, M/S or L/R, and in Analog or Digital mode. This time, you have four bands which can be set to Baxandall Bass, Band Shelf, Peak Bell, Proportional Q, or Baxandall Treble, and for the dynamics part of the module, you’ve got threshold level and attack and release. I’m not gonna get very in deep explaining what’s a Dynamic EQ, but basically is like having multiple dynamic processors, which work for each band independently, so, when you boost a frequency, it acts like an expander and when you cut a frequency, it acts like a compressor.
Well, this is a a pretty standard multiband dynamics processor. Each band has a Limiter and a Compressor with all typical controls: threshold level, ratio (up to 30:1 and with negative levels for gate/expander) attack (from 0ms to 500ms), release (from 0ms to 5000ms), and knee. Each band has independent gain makeup level and a control for parallel compression, so, you can do some pretty cool things with this!
This is the module I like most! It’s a multiband harmonic exciter with six types of distortion: Warm, Retro, Tape, Tube, Triode and Dual Triode. Each of this modes has a pretty unique character as they excite different sets of harmonics; the tape and tube emulations, are absolutely awesome!
Besides, each of the five bands has its own amount and mix controls. This is very clever, to set different amounts of parallel processing for each band.
This module is a great tool to enhance the stereo image. It has four different bands with controls from 100% to -100% (mono). It’s a pretty simple module, nothing too fancy in here, but, it has a very useful vectorscope for phase checking.
Last but not least is the Limiter module, which might be self explicatory, but, it has some nice features. Of course it features celling and threshold levels (very much in the Waves L2 fashion). There are three different modes, each with its own character: IRC I, II and III, each can be set to pumping, balances, crisp and clip. You can also set the attack via the character fader, from fast, to smooth, transparent and slow, there’s also a stereo unlink control and a transient emphasis, which somehow recovers the transient peaks.
In the standalone mode, there are some neat controls like sum to mono, dither, and L/R swap. Also, there’s a gain match switch for level matching when bypassed. Each module can be set to solo or mute, and can be used in any order, also, when used as a plugin in your DAW, you can insert in your track individual modules for saving some processor power.
This is a very versatile and powerful mastering suite. Of course, it sounds great and it can have a lot of character or be as clean as possible. It is intended for mastering purposes, but, if your computer’s processor lets you, you might as well use some of the modules in the mix environment. Anyway, this is, in my opinion a must have for anyone who’s mastering!
UPDATE: Check the new Ozone 7, also read our Ozone 7 Review
About The Author: Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]
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