What might be behind this chemical-inspired name? Okay, we all guessed it as soon as we read Izotope. It is of course about “Ozone 8” and “Neutron 2”, recently released by Izotope and one of them, if not the, most used mixing and mastering VST solutions of today. I for one was not really expecting this release and honestly have been quite curious how much punch it could pack.
I was pretty happy with Ozone 7 and Neutron and thought there was a little room for improvement, but not enough for a whole new version. Well, I am happy to admit I was wrong. There was a lot more than they thought of, so let me just jump right in and tell you whats new about it.
“Ozone 8” comes with 12 essential modern and vintage mastering Tools: Spectral Shaper, EQ, Dynamic EQ, Post EQ, Maximizer (with IRC IV and new IRC LL), Imager, Exciter, Dynamics, Vintage Limiter, Vintage Tape, Vintage EQ, and Vintage Compressor.
But one of the most exciting new features is the new Track Referencing. You can now compare your mix against a reference track of your choice, within an instance of Ozone 8. Ozone 8 allows you to load up to 10 tracks and it will automatically identify key areas of the tracks to save you time skimming through the track every time.
Also brand new in Ozone 8 is the “Spectral Shaper”, something I’ve always missed in Ozone so far. But it was worth the wait. No matter if you wish to use it creatively, or just to tame your guitar or vocal track a little, it does so wonderfully and like all the elements of “Ozone 8” is extremely easy and intuitive to use.
And what about Neutron? Neutron was a pretty niffy package from the start, “but what is already good can still be better” is what the good people at iZotope seem to think. Of course, Neutron 2 still has its “Masking Meter”, showing you visually where frequency masking might occur.
Neutron 2 is the only tool on the market, as far as I know, that can communicate with different instances of itself so that you can check each track against each other one for masking issues.
Something completely new is the Tonal Balance Control. Tonal Balance is the balance between different frequency ranges, within a track. With this new feature you are not just able to visualize this, but also to adjust the target. You could for example load a similar song in and make its tonal balance the target for what you work on.
You could even load a whole album in if you want and it would analyze all tracks and then determine the Target you want. And on the screen, you’ll see instantly when your mix and EQ decisions bring you closer to your goal.
Another cool new feature is the Visual Mixer. I don’t know about you, but oddly enough I am mostly a visual person, and this is almost my favorite of all the new features because of that. Essentially this “just” puts each track on an X/Y pad in which you can move them around thereby control the pan, gain, and width. But wait till you have used it.
I can only speak for myself but, I mix fast with it and it feels way more intuitive to me. Neutrons Track Assistant has also gotten an upgrade, and now recognizes more different instruments, lets you choose your desired style, and also the intensity you want for your mix.
Little upgrades like this might not seem like much but they make a lot of difference under the hood and in how it feels to work with it. The Neutrino Mode has also gotten an overhaul. It can now detect different instrument tracks – like vocals, dialogue, guitar, bass, piano, and drums.
If you have not yet tested the magic of Izotpe’s spectral shaping powers, I can only recommend it. The change might be subtle but the clarity it can bring to a mix is sometimes surprising.
The new EQ with EQ learns function, features 12 Bands for static and dynamic EQ and comes with new vintage filter types and a new saturation style for that extra soft warm sound. For the right punch, you can look to the new Compressor which can deliver classical, vintage, or digital sound, depending on what your mix needs.
The new “Gate” is state of the art with some analog-style touches. Cleaning up and noise gating is handled well by this three-band gate, hold option, and crossover learn function. And the “Transient Shaper” takes care of the punch and the clarity of it all. And we also still find Exciter and Limiter in here.
So we definitely have everything we need for a solid mix, and we even have help for how to use it, or at least how to get started. Neutron 2 also features surround now, which will be especially good news to all my friends working in movie and /or VR sound and music. It also comes packed with over 500 presets to get you started on whatever it is that you start working on.
While I also use other tools for mixing and mastering I’ve also been using Ozone for years and Neutron since it came out, on almost any mix I did. If anyone were to ask me for the first thing to get in terms of software for mixing and mastering, I would get THIS bundle.
There is nothing I know out there that makes a more solid fundamental (and beyond) toolkit, and especially for those who work at home or maybe don’t focus on the mixing and mastering aspect too much, this is a must-have. It is dun to work with and easy to learn, and also worth every dollar, it costs! With an initial investment, it’s like having your own sound engineer in the future…forever!
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
iZotope OZONE bundle is available at PluginBoutique priced at €496. It comes in formats like AAX, DPM, RTAS, VST2, VST3, compatible with all today’s major DAWs such as Ableton Live 10, Bitwig Studio 2, Reason 10, FL Studio 12, Logic Pro X, Reaper 5, Pro Tools 12, Sonar, Studio One 3, etc.