SoundBetter PRO

iZotope Ozone
'Suite' Mastering!

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iZotope Ozone is continually upgraded by its developers. Currently at version 6, this 'historical' page focuses on Ozone 4 - the first version to include mid-side options.

I'm currently quite happy with Ozone 5.

In a pre-release video below for Ozone 5 I've noticed some features left off the final release, notably the overlay of both the histogram and reduction meters in one view in both the audio compression and the limiting sections...

Version 4 was introduced in January 2009. It has all the processes needed to complete a CD mastering project.

Seven Modules for Seven Processes

And they are:

  • EQ (Linear Phase and Analog with saturation options)
  • Mastering Reverb
  • Compression (Wideband & Multiband)
  • Enhancement Processes
  • Imaging
  • Finalizing Limiter
  • Dithering

The dithering stage has options for dynamic DC offset removal and preventing inter-sample overs.

iZotope Ozone also lets one choose which order the different processes will happen, or whether they happen at all. Although limiting and dithering appear on the same user screen, there is the option for no dithering at all. This is handy, for example, if I want to render a file in 32 bits in WaveLab.

I can’t for the life of me see why limiting and dithering would be anything other than last stage of the mastering process! There is a limiting stage built into the compression module. There is also an option for downward expansion, which I find very useful noise control and reduction.

This final stage of Ozone – dithering, with DC offset removal and preventing inter-sample overs goes on every master I make for my clients. There's a range of dithering and noise shaping types and intensities to choose from, but I generally prefer the MBIT option.

MBIT dithering is an iZotope exclusive, available only in Ozone and RX - iZotope’s noise reduction suite.

Getting Into The Mix

In Version 4, iZotope has a “mix” control for each process that works in a unique way for each one.

For example, in the compression section, we can balance and blend in the original signal with the compressed one allowing us to use one of my favorite techniques - parallel compression.

However, the mix control in the EQ section varies the overall amount of cut or boost used for each band. So, no - there’s no parallel EQ a la Manley going on here!

Similarly, in the enhancement and imaging module, we can globally increase and decrease the amount of added processing or image enhancement, just as in the mid-side EQ section.

In addition to individual ‘mixing’, iZotope Ozone also has a global control for added possibilities.

Mid Side Processing

A very cool and welcome introduction into iZotope Ozone 4 is the mid-side options.

Mid Side techniques are a secret weapon for ‘re-mixing’ a less than perfect track. This gives many of the people I work with the opportunity to save time and money on a remix - if such a need ever arises.

The mid-side options are available in the EQ, reverb, enhancement, and compressor sections.

More Than Just A Fix

But mid side mastering is more than just a fix for a so-so mix. It can help focus and open it up in ways not possible otherwise.

For example:

I rarely use reverb because I find even at 1% settings, the definition of a mix starts disappears.


If I absolutely have to use it, I like the idea of being able to add a touch of reverb just to the side channels. This helps me keep the vocals and any lead instruments clear, while adding a nice bit of air around a mix.

This iZotope Ozone feature is one I haven't found in any other software.

By the way, there is no mid side option in the imaging module because the very process itself is a mid side function!

With this option in the enhancement module I can add clarity to vocals, and a sense of open-ness in the soundstage without directly widening it the way a side EQ boost might.

Warm Fuzzy Feelings

Speaking of enhancement, the “warm” mode in the enhancer module adds even harmonics.

This is a very seductive sound. A little goes a very long way.

In the limiter, the release algorithm called ”Intelligent II” offers more flavors - warm, hard and otherwise - to the mix.

Metering: For Eyes to Hear, Ears to See

Another great feature in iZotope Ozone is its extensive and intelligent metering system.

For me, metering is important, not just for verification, but also to help explain any problems that may exist in a mix, to clients. The frequency spectrum is very useful to speed up needed EQ adjustments. The imaging scope shows critical phase and soundstage issues.

The 'histogram' meter in the compressor section, again, helps me a find a quick starting off point for a suitable threshold.

In addition to the standard input and output levels, I can also choose to monitor inter-sample overs in the input, output or both stages.

This insures that no master for my clients creates any un-intended distortion on their listeners playback systems

Other Goodies

The EQ module has a track matching feature like in Voxengo and Harbal. Unlike those, there is also a scaling and smoothing function, useful if one doesn’t need the degree or hard core accuracy of a perfect match....

But truthfully, from my experience there is more to balancing tracks with each other than just blatantly matching spectrum traces. Mastering is and always has been an ‘ear’ art.

Thankfully, the compressor section has options for wideband operation, not just multiband.

And if I ever have the need for multiband compression, I have still many more options:

  • From 2 to 4 bands
  • Linear and analog modes for the crossover points
  • A ‘hybrid’ mode: linear phase accuracy with analog colour
  • A “learn” mode for the ‘best’ crossover points.

I find that many times, different crossovers are suited for the verses and choruses of songs.

Desert Island Reality

I’ve said in interviews with people and clients, if I’m ever forced to use just one software for my mastering processes, or if I find myself in the mastering equivalent of a desert island, iZotope Ozone would be my choice.

With Ozone, I've found that just a little can go a long, long way.

It’s that good and that versatile.

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