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5 Mastering Tricks Using Ozone 9

October 3, 2019
Learn how to create better masters using iZotope Ozone 9's most exciting features.

iZotope’s Ozone 9 delivers an assortment of brand new features which include Master Rebalance, Low End Focus, an improved Tonal Balance Control, an expanded Master Assistant, a match EQ module, vintage modules, an updated UI/UX, Native Instruments NKS support, improved performance, and component plugins. We’ll be taking a look at 5 mastering tricks using Ozone 9.

Whether you’re new to mastering music, or you work professionally as a mastering engineer, Ozone 9 will be able to help you step up your mastering game. For the beginner, Ozone 9 provides an assistive mastering tool called Master Assistant, and for the pro, it provides surgical processing tools that allow you to get extremely technical with mixes.

1. Give Yourself a Starting Point

An image of iZotope Ozone 9's Master Assistant.
iZotope Ozone 9's Master Assistant

One of Ozone’s most impressive features is Master Assistant, and it’s received quite a few improvements in Ozone 9. Master Assistant asks you “What are you going for?” and prompts you to input some basic parameters. Ozone analyzes your song, and then provides you with a recommended processing chain. You’ll often find that you still need to tweak parameters after the processing chain has been applied, but it’s usually a good starting point.

Master Assistant lets you to pick between using modern or vintage modules. The modern modules tend to have a clear and transparent tone, whereas the vintage modules provide more color and character.

There are three different manual loudness and EQ intensities to choose from: low, medium, and high. I recommend you start with the low setting and run Master Assistant again using the medium or high setting if you don’t end up with the results you were looking for the first time around. If these manual intensities don’t work for you, you can use a reference track to provide Ozone 9 with a better idea of what you’re looking for.

The final decision you need to make is whether you want a master that’s formatted for streaming services or CD. Most people will likely be formatting their music for streaming services since it’s relatively inexpensive to distribute their music this way, but it’s nice having the option to format for CD if necessary.

2. Readjust Vocal, Bass, and Drum Levels Without Stems

An image of iZotope Ozone 9's Master Rebalance Module.
iZotope Ozone 9's Master Rebalance Module

There’s nothing more time-consuming than back and forth correspondence with a client, especially when working with them online. It’s extremely common to receive a mix and realize the client improperly set their track levels. You can contact the client and pray they adjust their track levels properly, or you can use Ozone 9’s new Master Rebalance feature to adjust vocal, bass, and drum levels yourself.

A dynamic EQ will allow to boost drum levels, but it’s an extremely time consuming process. With Ozone 9, all you have to do is select the Drums option within the Master Rebalance module, and then adjust the gain level.

I’m usually quite skeptical about one-slider processing solutions like Master Rebalance, but for light to moderate adjustments it works quite well. Generally, if you need to make massive level changes, the mix isn’t ready for mastering and should be revised.

3. Remove Low End Mud

An image of iZotope Ozone 9's Low End Focus Module.
iZotope Ozone 9's Low End Focus Module

Some mix issues like a muddy kick and bass require extensive mixing to correct. In fact, this warranted writing an article called “7 Ways to Mix Your Kick and Bass Together.”

If you receive a mix from a client that has a muddy low end caused by the kick and bass negatively interacting with one another, Ozone 9 allows you to provide clarity without the need for stems. The Low End Focus module lets you add punch to your low end or smooth out low end that is too punchy.

This module seems to provide some tone shaping abilities on top of providing clarity. Moving the contrast slider down sounds as though it shifts the weight of the low end further down the frequency spectrum; the slider has the opposite affect when moved up.

4. Perform Selective Frequency Spectrum Matching

iZotope Ozone 9's Match EQ Module

Match EQs work by analyzing the frequency response of two tracks; a reference song and the song you’re mastering. They apply an EQ curve to the song you’re mastering, which brings the balance of your mix closer to that of the reference track.

Ozone 9’s match EQ uses over 8000 bands to provide the most precise snapshot possible and it allows you to capture a reference from a track in a session, or a reference file loaded into Ozone 9. You can even save your favorite snapshots and call them up later.

If you can hear that there’s a low-mid deficiency in the mix you’re working on, you can target just the problematic range with Ozone 9’s match EQ to balance it correctly using a reference. You may want to do this if a broadband match EQ is negatively effecting your mix. Perhaps the broadband match EQ is boosting the top-end of your mix inappropriately, or reducing the low end too much.

5. Adjust Your Mix to Target Levels

iZotope's Improved Tonal Balance Control

Getting a mix to sound balanced can be difficult, especially if your listening environment is lying to you; this is why it’s important to sound treat your home studio. If you’re working in a less than ideal environment, reference tracks are an essential resource. As long as your mix sounds like it’s balanced similar to your well-mixed reference track, there’s a good chance it will translate well to other playback systems.

Ozone 9 Advanced comes with an improved Tonal Balance Control component, with faster performance and smooth metering, that can communicate with other iZotope plugins across your project session. This is good news if you’re mastering in the same project you mixed your song in because it lets you make small level adjustments to individual tracks and see their affect. Even if you’re mastering in a separate project, Tonal Balance Control shows you where it may be a good idea to make EQ adjustments to your mix.

One of my favorite parts about Tonal Balance Control is that provides an assortment of preset targets for bass heavy, classical, country, EDM, folk, hip-hop, jazz, modern, orchestral, pop, reggae, RnB-soul, and rock music. These presets have been created based on thousands of professional masters, which means you don’t have to roll the dice on a single reference track that you hope is balanced well.

You can save 20% on iZotope's Ozone 9 Advanced until October 31st, 2019 as part of an introductory price offer. For owners of a previous eligible versions of Ozone, you'll be able to upgrade to Ozone 9 at a reduced price.undefined

I want to invite you to join me in the Black Ghost Audio group on Facebook; it's full of producers currently working in the music industry who are more than happy to help you improve your productions. Leave a comment below if you have any questions regarding this article. Your feedback is always appreciated, and we'll take it into account when we publish future articles.

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If you're interested in learning more about music production, sign up for a free online music production lesson with a Black Ghost Audio instructor today. They're happy to answer any questions you may have about recording, production, mixing, mastering, and music business.

Charles Hoffman is a mixing and mastering engineer at Black Ghost Audio. After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a degree in English Language and Literature, Charles continued his education at Icon Collective, a music production school based out of Los Angeles, CA. You can send him a work inquiry at charles@blackghostaudio.com.

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