Tech News: iZotope's Ozone 7: A Mastering Suite Gone Wild

Published on in Equipment / Tech Reviews

By Ed Mattiuzzi

Ozone 7 eagerly won my attention when I started exploring this software only six months ago.  I now use Ozone for both live and studio mixing.  My overall impression is that Ozone 7’s simplicity, ease of use, and classy display of modules are not only impressive in the way they sound but enjoyable to steer.

I admit, I do not use all the modules in Ozone 7, but I frequently use the Equalizer, Vintage Compressor and Vintage Limiter.  Even though Ozone 7 can act as your mastering solution, I tend to use the software more as a plugin in my mixes.  They have become my go-to default modules for most of my chains.

To start with, I enjoy the overall playful landscape of the Equalizer module.  It’s very precise, and it allows you to make subtle changes effortlessly.  The eight bands of bell, high-pass, low-pass, high-shelf, low-shelf filters and a slide controller for the Q factor give me the perfect playground for a dynamic mix.

I’m a bit of a plugin hoarder, and my workflow can sometimes be interpreted as sloppy and overcomplicated.  I tend to pile a ton of plugins onto one chain that would make any professional cringe.  My fellow colleagues repeatedly encourage me to use return tracks for my effects to avoid CPU overload; yet, I avoid returns altogether, especially for reverbs, delays, filters and sidechain compression.  I am stubborn because I like each chain to become a unique entity within my soundscape.  When I am pleased with the chain, I usually freeze the track and sometimes flatten it (when and if I am ever ready to commit to it forever).  Since Ozone’s Equalizer and Vintage Compressor modules seem less bulky than Waves' EQ and compressor plugins, I wind up piling a multitude of these modules on a chain to create more experimental sounds. 

When I use Ableton for my live performances, I control all my EQ, compression and limiting using Ozone.  I run the plugins on my master track as well as on individual tracks when I perform live.  I have an Apogee Duet (for my AD/DA conversion) that goes directly into a 2-way 1000-watt powered speaker system.  The sound is epic, and this overall setup leaves my audience sonically satiated while craving more.  The modules make it easy to do quick adjustments to gauge the sonic feel of a room, especially as more people fill the dance floor.

In addition, the Vintage Limiter is really handy for live sets for catching volume spikes; unfortunately, I still find this module to be more CPU hungry than Waves L1.  I really love the sound of the Vintage Limiter better, especially when using ‘modern’ mode, which sounds really clean to me.  For my live performances, I use an older Macbook Pro 2011, which is why I think my computer tires easily when I use the Vintage Limiter in real time.  I’m certain the upcoming 2016 Macbook Pro will be fierce enough to employ the Vintage Limiter more effectively in my live setup in the near future.

Lastly, one of my favorite features of the Vintage Limiter is the automatic gain match button, which is displayed as a little ear to the right of the bypass button.  This is great for previewing the outgoing limiter signal versus the bypass signal at the same gain levels, so you can A/B them side-by-side without having to adjust your volume in the studio.  This is a priceless feature that saves a lot of frustration when you want instant gratification of your tweaked results without having to manually raise the volume faders every time.

I was a Waves plugin user for years, and a few of my friends tried to persuade me to experiment with Ozone a while back.  I wish I had sooner because Ozone has now become a game changer for me.  I am not much of a video game player as I was in my early teen years, yet Ozone now acts as my video game of choice when making music.

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