Ozone, iZotope’s mastering plug-in, is available in its tenth reincarnation. Its Master Assistant takes a lot of work out of your hands. And yet, it doesn’t force you to accept its results, leaving all the room you need for a creative result. Oh, and the Assistant can match your music to a musical reference, including your own reference tracks. In short, iZotope has released a master plug-in that towers above everything else.
I tested the new Assistant first with Bach’s Weinacht Kantate BWV 122. The recording I used had always sounded a bit “muzzled” to me, as if the sound engineer had been afraid to have the choir and the baroque violins stand out — it’s baroque, so it has to be held back, right?
I let the Assistant do its job with the built-in reference tracks. The Assistant told me this was cinematic music. Well, cinematic or not, it sounded a lot better, with an openness and brightness that made the music so much more detailed, bright and joyful — which is what a Christmas “song” should be, right? — that I almost couldn’t be lieve my ears.
It was louder in some parts, but more importantly, it was much more balanced. Now, I do know that “remastering” another sound engineer’s master is rarely a good idea, but it did tell me something about Ozone 10’s underlying algorithms and machine learning capabilities: it’s not a master plug-in that will result in an average result no matter what you throw at it, nor is Ozone about loud, louder, loudest.
Ozone 10 is especially good at making music and audio in general sound better. For example, that Bach piece has parts with high frequencies that sounded quite aggressive in the original version (this might very well have been why the original sound engineer turned down the volume for the whole piece). Ozone decreased the shrillness without making the entire track sound shoebox-like.
In short, the Master Assistant can be trusted to make the results much better, so much in fact that, if you’re not all that good in mastering, you can leave it at that. If you’re a master at mastering, I’m sure you’ll find parts where you can put your own stamp on and Ozone has the tools to let you tamper with the sound to your heart’s content.
I can only imagine what the Assistant would do if I were to have a perfect reference track for my Bach piece and have the Assistant match tone, dynamics, and width of that track. I can teel you this as a mastering amateur: the Assistant View makes it faster than ever to customize your starting point, while the Tonal Balance curve allows for easy metering (included in Standard and Advanced).
One of the modules the Assistant comes with is the new Stabilizer Module. That module sculpts a balanced sound with its new intelligent and adaptive mastering EQ. After the Assistant has done its work, you can easily see how the new module is dynamically shaping the —in the case of the Bach file — clear, brighter tone without the harshness of the original. This module also smoothens transients for better translation across listening environments. It is available in Ozone 10 Advanced only, though.
What I didn’t test is the new Impact Module that enhances the rhythm and feel of tracks by intuitively controlling micro-dynamics. You have four sliders to work across different frequency bands. They breathe life into a mix, adding punch and dynamic space, or glueing your track together for a thicker sound (Advanced only).
Another control, the Magnify Soft Clip, boosts loudness while maintaining high fidelity audio in the Maximizer module (included in Standard and Advanced). Finally, Recover Sides reduces width without losing the sides. It’s and Imager module control that maintains stereo information in mono and helps preserve depth and power when narrowing a problem frequency (included in Standard and Advanced).
As with RX 10, which I reviewed earlier, Ozone 10 now also has native Apple silicon support and a refreshed look and feel.
iZotope offers an introductory pricing through October 20, 2022
Ozone 10 Advanced: $299 USD (regularly $499 USD
Ozone 10 Standard: $199 USD (regularly $249 USD