IZOTOPE OZONE 8 Update
(Reviewed by John Verity)
Ozone 8 Standard Education: £216.58
Ozone 8 Advanced Education: £433.98
Well developed mastering skills are essential for learners focusing on music technology at all levels, and Ozone software has been at the forefront of technology in this area for some considerable time.
Operationally, Ozone version 8 is very similar to its predecessor Ozone 7 and for this reason I have simply focussed on the newest elements available, and included my earlier Ozone 7 review below this update for reference...
Ozone 8 introduces us to Master Assistant, a plugin designed to intelligently assist with EQ and dynamics settings to create a starting point for the piece being worked on.
The process is simple, giving the learner option to load presets or a reference track of their choice, then play back a short (preferably at its loudest point) section of their own project. Master Assistant will compare the two, and set up/ load recommended EQ & Dynamics modules to suit.
In the process of writing this review I utilised Master Assistant across a number of genre with mixed success. Whilst appropriate modules were generally loaded automatically I didn't always feel that settings were particularly successful, though with a little tweaking acceptable results were pretty much always reachable. Certainly Master Assistant can create useful starting points but could lead to problems for the inexperienced learner.
Track Referencing appears to utilise a similar process to analyse the learner's own master and compare it to any one of a chosen number of imported reference tracks, setting markers and graphically showing the difference. This could be a valuable tool for teachers and learners alike to make valid comparisons at this crucial stage in the production process.
Spectral Shaper will allow learners to fine tune their finished mix by using intelligent dynamics to identify and remove harshness or sibilance in the chosen track effortlessly.
The Tonal Balance Control plugin is included in the Advanced version of the software only. It allows for further comparison with target curves from commercially mastered tracks in order to facilitate an end result that is comparable to the target range.
As I spent more time with Ozone 8 I began to feel that the new additions to the program were probably best suited to more advanced learners; those aiming for the highest grades by presenting work approaching professional standards.
That said, the included EQ and dynamics modules are worth the price of entry, so to speak. I enjoyed working with the new look graphics- though quite dark as shown in the illustrations, everything is displayed clearly and all controls are easy enough to find.
Ozone 8 is a worthwhile upgrade for centres already using Ozone.
For those not yet familiar with this software but on the search for excellent mastering facilities I can highly recommend Ozone 8. everything you are likely to need is here, and the quality is second to none.
Education prices in the UK are available here: Time+Space
As with all Izotope software, support is generous, with lots of video and information available via their website: Izotope
My earlier review of OZONE 7 can be found below....
IZOTOPE OZONE 7 - from Time+Space
(Reviewed by John Verity)
Several Music and Music Technology specifications require learners to create fully mastered mixes of their material and whilst most Digital Audio workstations include tools for performing these tasks many of these generic plug-ins are very basic.
Ozone 7 provides learners with an excellent range of tools with which to master their material, whilst familiarising themselves with the techniques likely to be encountered in real-world situations in the recording studio/ production environment. The 'Advanced' version further allows individual plug-ins to be used within a DAW for use on multi-track sessions.
Genre-specific pre-sets allow learners to quickly access examples of the types of mastering processes used across the industry, with further editing of these pre-sets readily available.
Installation was quick and simple.
A challenge/Response system is used by Izotope whereby the supplied serial number is used to generate a challenge code, which in turn generates the authorisation file via the Izotope website. The process can be completed on-line if the computer in question has internet access – if not the authorisation file can be simply transferred to the computer on which Ozone 7 is to be used.
Once authorised, Ozone 7 appears alongside other plug-ins within the DAW plug-in folder and can be selected as required.
On receipt of a serial number, the programme was painlessly downloaded and authorised to the host computer.
Ozone 7 can be used in Stand alone mode, but for the purposes of this review it was first used inside Wavelab to master an already completed mix.
Ozone comes with a number of presets, each of them useful in an educational sense when discussing genre-related mastering processes, as each preset loads appropriate plug-ins in a particular order for the type of music being mastered.
Learners will easily and quickly recognise the effect and scope of the range of plug-ins used, before making their own choices in relation to their material.
This reviewer loaded one of the less extreme presets into Wavelab before fine-tuning to preference and completing a very pleasing project up to professional standards.
Particularly appreciated is the decision to provide a more vintage focus on the tools in this version of Ozone.
Next, the Advanced version allowed use of individual plug-ins inside a DAW - Harrison Mixbus, on a multi-track session.
Each plug-in loaded quickly and easily. The processor-load was reasonable, allowing for smooth operation in a well specified system.
The GUI for each plug-in clearly displays settings and proved easy to operate.
Ozone’s ‘Undo History’ and A/B comparison features make reviewing and comparing processes simply, and the “Automatically Match Effective Gain When Bypassed” feature overcomes the problem of learners fooling themselves into thinking they have created a louder sounding mix when in fact they are simply listening louder! Very useful even at a professional level.
Clearly a lot of thought has gone into this Ozone upgrade, and utilizing the tools available will enable learners to not only improve their practical work, but to explore and experience the skills and practices at a professional level.
The availability of presets should not be a concern, as these presets are really only a starting point and will rarely be totally useable without some form of ‘tweaking’ by the learner.
The person designing the presets has no way of knowing the makeup of the source material therefore they are only to be considered a rough guide, especially in terms of equalization…
Learners at all levels will find the Ozone 7 range useful in the final preparation of their audio work.
At level 3 upwards, the Advanced version is probably most appropriate due to the ability to utilise the plug-ins individually inside the chosen DAW during the tracking/mixing stages of their work.
iZotope provide a generous range of help files and tutorial videos easily accessed online.
Highly recommended at all levels, and providing essential tools at levels 3 and 4.