iZotope Ozone 7 Review
iZotope intros the Ozone 7 version of its very well-known mastering suite (and standalone app since Ozone 6), featuring some very nice improvements, new modules, and the addition of some clever functionality that will make from iZotope Ozone 7 plugin the only thing you will probably need for in-the-box audio mastering. Let’s check it out!
The interface looks very similar to the one on Ozone 6, very polished and pro. On this version, there are ten different modules, the well-known EQ, the fantastic exciter (which I’ve used on every mastering job I’ve done for the last five or six years), the Dynamic EQ which debuted on version 6, the “imager”, which I love, the multiband Dynamics and the Maximizer, which has some new features. Speaking of new, there are four new modules: the Vintage EQ, Vintage Compressor, and Vintage Limiter. More on this later.
The master and monitor section of the plugin has also some new features, like the fact you can preview ACC and MP3 compression at different bit rates, which I have to say is brilliant. Let’s say you are mastering a song for YouTube or Spotify or whatever streaming service, and you can immediately hear it as it would sound after being converted to a more compressed format, so, that way, you can make some mastering decisions in order to make a better product with no need to go back and forth. Just brilliant.
Another brilliant idea is that in standalone mode, iZotope lets Ozone users use third-party plugins, both in VST and AU, and if that’s not enough for you to use it as a standalone, now, you can add multiple tracks at once. So, hey, if you are mastering in-the-box, you don’t need any other software for any reason.
As I’ve reviewed Ozone 6 like a year ago, I’m not gonna get into details of what hasn’t changed. So, let’s talk about new stuff!
From the old modules, the only thing that’s quite new and awesome is the Maximizer Module with the inclusion of a new IRC (intelligent release control), the IRC IV which, to my ears has some more clarity, especially in the bottom end. This new IRC has three options: Classic, Modern, and Transient, and I believe this last mode is especially cool for not “taming” transients that much, as opposed to the modern mode.
The Vintage EQ, it’s based on a Pultec and it sounds very warm indeed. I mean, it’s not as clinical as the EQ module, of course, cause you’ve got fixed bands, but, it’s incredibly warm, for sure, it doesn’t have as much character as a real Pultec, or as the UAD emulation, but it will bring warm, especially in the low end.
The Vintage Tape sounds awesome! It adds saturation, compression, and character, you can select between 15 or 30 ips speed, change the input drive and bias, add harmonic exciter, and control the low and high emphasis regardless of the tape speed. The Vintage Tape module is available only with the “Advanced” version of iZotope Ozone 7 mastering software.
Next is the Vintage Compressor, which again, sounds very nice! it features a detection filter, before actually hitting the compressor itself which is very useful if you have a very powerful low end. For the compressor itself, you’ve got a threshold, ratio, which goes into Limiter territory with a maximum possible ratio of 20:1, attack, which goes pretty fast for a vintage compressor (0.1ms), and release which can go all the way up to 150 ms. There are three different modes: sharp, balanced, and smooth. and this has to do with the compressor knee, its sound, somehow reminds me a bit of the API 2500
The last Vintage module is the Vintage Limiter, which is a pretty straightforward limiter, celling, threshold, and response, but, the cool thing is it has three modes, Analog, Tube, and Modern, so, in fact, three different flavors, and each of them, especially the tube emulation, has a character of its own.
Of course, as it happens with previous versions, you can process in stereo or M/S or in some cases, like EQ, even in L+R. You can even set the meters in the master section to be stereo or M/S, you can monitor in mono, which is still today, crucial. You can swap L & R channels, and there’s even an option for gain compensation when you bypass so you just hear the tonal differences when you A/B. You can apply Dither, and as I’ve mentioned before, you can even monitor how will it sound after being converted to MP3 or AAC.
When you are using Ozone as a plugin, you can use individual modules to process tracks, and this is a not that heavy way to integrate Ozone into your mixes. As I’ve mentioned before, when you are using it as a stand-alone, if you want to, you can add third-party plugins to the chain, making Ozone an all-in-one, in-the-box mastering tool. When exporting, from the stand-alone version, you can choose between WAV, AIFF, MP3 or AAC.
If you are mastering in-the-box, Ozone 7 is all you need, really, it’s a complex set of tools by itself, but, with the possibility to use third-party plugins too, there’s nothing you can complain about. Modules sound great, the new vintage modules, have lots of characters, and presets are really cool, in fact, I almost forget to mention that there are 10 presets designed by mastering engineer Greg Calbi, and those might be very serious starting points, and for sure, they are awesome learning tools!
So, to me, if you are into mastering, you should definitely consider using Ozone 7, I know I will.
iZotope Ozone 7 mastering software is available as a standalone application for both Windows and MAC OS, or as a VST, VST2, VST3, Audio Unit, RTAS, or AAX plugin format, to be used with your favorite music software (DAW).