How to Master with iZotope Ozone

How to Master with iZotope Ozone

When mastering with Izotope Ozone, it helps to use the full module and introduce your processing within that plugin.  Typically I like to introduce processing in this order, subtractive equalization, tape emulation, harmonic excitement, upward compression with the dynamics plugin, additive dynamic eq, vintage limiting and then maximization.

Introduction to Izotope Ozone

Real quick and before we get into everything, if you’re new to Izotope – for this session we’ll use the module formant, and introducing our processing within this plugin that houses all forms of processing and dictates their routing from left to right.  We’re going to use 7 processors in total.

Keep in mind that if you’re mastering with Ozone, you’ll also be able to access these individual plugins outside of this module.

Using Izotope Ozone for Subtractive EQ

The first processor we’re going to use is a subtractive EQ, to attenuate aspects of the signal we don’t like prior to the signal being amplified by distortion and other processing.  Using the analog setting with stereo routing, I’ll attenuate some of the lowest frequencies to create more headroom.

Then I found some low mids I thought didn’t add anything positive to the mix.

Using Izotope Ozone for Tape Emulation

Now that I’ve attenuated aspects of the mix I don’t want, I can begin to amplify it with some tape emulation – I’ll increase the input drive to hit the processor in a pleasant way, and increase the harmonics to make the sound a little fuller and more aggressive.

By combining a 15 IPS tape speed, and altering the low and high emphasis, I can find a frequency balance that I liked.

Using Izotope Ozone for Harmonic Excitement

An exciter will generate more harmonics which, depending on the frequency range, will make the master fuller, more powerful, and clearer.  I’ll split the processing into 3 bands, and find the emulation type and amount that works well for each band – as well as use oversampling to avoid any aliasing.

I’ll be more aggressive with the high frequencies since I felt that they lack some needed clarity.

Using Izotope Ozone for Upward Compression

With the Dynamics plugin, I’ll create multi-band upward compression by using a negative ratio and setting the threshold carefully.  I’ll put this processor after the distortion and harmonic generation to increase their detail – and monitor the value below the meter to see how much amplification occurs.

Keep in mind that when using upward compression, the signal is amplified whenever it falls below your set threshold.

Using Izotope Ozone for Additive Dynamic EQ

Next, I’ll combine additive and dynamic equalization, as well as some stereo imaging by utilizing mid-side processing.  For the mid image, I expanded the kick, vocal clarity, and high hat, and on the side, I expanded some of the mids, pulled back on the vocal range, and expanded highs.

By compressing the vocal range on the side, I reduce phase cancellation in that range, in turn making the vocal a little clearer.

Using Izotope Ozone for Vintage Limiting

Since this track has a lo-fi feel to it, some vintage limiting might be a good step – I’ll use the modern mode since this introduces some classic qualities but still retains the detail of the track.  I’ll avoid true peak limiting, and only compress a little.

Notice that this plugin mainly introduces gain and a little character on the occasions that compression occurs.

Using Izotope Ozone for Maximization

I’ll cycle through the various processing modes to find one that suits the track well, and use a slightly quicker response to retain transients.  Some stereo independence will make the dynamics more interesting and varied, and the transient function will allow for more transient detail after limiting has occurred.

Looking at my metering, I can see that my LUFS is hovering between -13 and -12, and I’ll reduce the output to allow room for future encoding.

Final Thoughts: Using Izotope Ozone

Izotope Ozone was a little different from the mastering setup I’m used to; however, I found that the module kept the session more focused and gave me a better understanding of what was going on with the signal.  If you’re new to mastering, the master assistant is really helpful.

It can give you a good foundation for creating a chain, and make it easier to create a demoed master quickly.

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