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Glenn DeLaune reviews: iZotope Ozone 3

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Glenn DeLaune reviews: iZotope Ozone 3
A Creative COW Product Review


Glenn DeLaune reviews:  iZotope Ozone 3

Glenn DeLaune Glenn DeLaune
Extreme Video Productions
Lafayette, Louisiana, USA

© 2003 Glenn DeLaune and CreativeCOW.net. All rights are reserved.


Article Focus:
Glenn DeLaune puts iZotope Ozone 3 through through its paces on a CD project for an R&B band down in New Orleans, Louisiana. Glenn concludes his review with, " iZotope Ozone 3 is really six very high quality sound effects processors in one complete package. For $199.00 you are getting all you will ever need to master your recordings and be confident that the next time you hand out your CD, your music will have that 'radio ready' sound."

Product Description: iZotope Ozone 3 is a complete mastering effects system for windows. It boasts a 64-bit processing engine with sample rates of up to 192 kHz. Ozone is a Direct X application and will operate from within any host application that supports Direct X. The software is available from the iZotope website at http://www.izotope.com for $199.00 (download) or $229.00 CD USD. There is also a demo available.


When I was just starting out in the audio recording field it took me the longest time to understand what "mastering" meant. I just couldn't get my mixes to sound like what I was hearing on the radio or on my favorite CD's. I finally understood that after your music has been mixed in a studio, it then has to be mastered. Mastering can do many things to a recording. It can bring out that weak vocal, fatten up that snare and bring the volume level up to it's maximum levels, among other things.


iZotope Ozone 3 is really six processing apps in one. You get Paragraphic EQ, Mastering Reverb, Loudness Maximizer, Multiband Harmonic Exciter, Multiband Dynamics, and Multiband Stereo Imaging. All of this is put together into one of the coolest looking interfaces I have seen. I got the chance recently to put Ozone through its paces on a CD project for an R&B band down in New Orleans, Louisiana. They had 15 songs mixed down to CD and it was my job to create a master CD that would be sent out for duplication.

I installed Ozone 3 on my system and it came up in my audio editor of choice, Steinberg Wavelab. The very first thing I wanted to do was to create my own preset as a starting point. Ozone comes with many factory preset settings. You can also download custom presets from the iZotope website. I think this is a great way for people to share their custom presets with other Ozone users. After going through the presets, I was ready to create my own. This preset would be the basic setting for the entire CD. Each song would then be adjusted on a per song basis. My goal was to have a collection of songs that sounded consistent from one song to the next. As an extra guide I selected one of my favorite CD's that closely matched the sound that the band was trying to achieve and I referenced it from time to time. I wanted to make sure I was getting close to the sound they wanted.

The program is laid out well. Right on the main panel you have access to all of the processing "modules". The first thing I went for was the Loudness Maximizer. Here you have threshold and margin settings. There is also a "character" setting that can be changed from very fast, fast and loud, smooth, transparent and very slow. I found the smooth setting sounded good. There is also a DC offset filter and dithering type settings. I set the loudness maximizer to run in intelligent mode. You can also use brickwall and soft modes.

My second choice was the Multiband Dynamics. This section is split into four bands. Each of the bands can have different amounts of dynamics applied. I needed to tighten up the bass guitar with the kick drum so I selected the low end band and gave it a 2:1 ratio and boosted the gain. This made the bass guitar and kick really sit well together in the mix. I left the other settings alone. At any point you can disable or enable any of the effects, all in real time while the music is playing.


Next, I opened the Mutiband Stereo Imaging. Here you can add four bands of stereo imaging including widening and delay of each band. I selected the Low end band 1 and added a slight delay. I also added a little widening of bands 2 and 4 with a slight delay on band 4. This gave the music a smooth low end and it added to the fullness of the sound. Just as a reference, I checked my favorite music CD against my mastering project to make sure I was on the right track. I was pleased to hear that my project was starting to closely match the sound of the reference CD.

I then opened up the Mutiband Harmonic Exciter. Again, you have four bands to adjust here. You also have tube, retro and tape mode settings. I found that the tape mode setting was best for me. In this section I didn't add too much. I selected the lower band 1 and added very little harmonics and adjusted the delay to 0.1ms. I also added a little harmonics to the upper band 3.

Now, for a little Paragraphic EQ. You have three modes to work with here, analog, digital and matching. The matching mode really came in handy because there were a couple of mixes where the equalization was different. I was able to "sample" the eq sound from one of the earlier songs and apply it to the last couple of songs of the CD. This really made all of the songs sound consistent from start to finish. I think this is a very helpful feature when it comes to mastering a collection of songs.

Finally, there is the Mastering Reverb section. I found the mastering reverb here to be of the finest quality. Some of the mixes needed to sound a little more open. I was able to accomplish this with the mastering reverb. The band wanted a small club sound to the music and that is exactly what I gave them.

iZotope Ozone 3 is really six very high quality sound effects processors in one complete package. For $199.00 you are getting all you will ever need to master your recordings and be confident that the next time you hand out your CD, your music will have that "radio ready" sound. This product can also be used as an insert effect while you are mixing your multi-track audio project. Use the mastering reverb to get that lush sounding reverb on the lead vocal or snare drum. You may also want to use the loudness maximizer to sweeten up that bass guitar track or use the multiband dynamics to tighten up that loose kick drum. Or use it as a master effect for the entire mix.



COW Rating: 5 COWs



Conclusion: iZotope Ozone 3 gives you all the tools you need to master your recordings like the pros. I highly recommend this software to anyone from the smallest demo/project studio to the biggest mastering/multi-track studio facilities.


Glenn DeLaune
Extreme Video Productions
http://www.extremevideopro.com






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