Review: iZotope's Ozone 6
Erik Vlietinck
Issue: June 1, 2015

Review: iZotope's Ozone 6


PRODUCT: Ozone 6

PRICE: $249 Ozone 6; $999 Ozone 6 Advanced


- Effective new dynamic equalizer
- Plug-in to DAW or sound editor or as standalone solution
- Ozone 6 Advanced offers seven mastering tools

iZotope removed features from Ozone 6 in response to user feedback. The result is a lean mastering machine with looks to kill for and not one feature that gets in your way. Ozone 6 does come with a new module: a very effective dynamic equalizer. Ozone 6 can be used as a plug-in to your DAW or sound editor, or as a standalone mastering solution.

Mastering ensures each instrument (both software and real ones) and audio track (whether it be vocal tracks sung or spoken) sounds best in the end-result. For example, you want to make sure there’s a good sound scape, a transparent stereo image. The voice of a voiceover might sound a bit harsh in some parts. The mastering application allows you to tone down the voice just a bit so it sounds well. In short, the mastering phase puts everything in sound-wise/musical perspective and makes the end-result sound perfect.

You can use Ozone 6 as a mastering plug-in to Logic Pro X or any other DAW, but now that Ozone 6 is a standalone app as well, it may also serve as a mastering solution for audio files that you receive from others in a more or less “finished” state. I found out that it will work its magic with more than just music files, too. The dynamic equalizer is a boon if you want to process specific frequencies. You can base your edits on a sound’s dynamic and spectral qualities as it changes over time with the dynamic EQ.

iZotope let me review Ozone 6 Advanced, which has seven mastering tools organized in easy to insert modules, including Maximizer, Equalizer, Dynamic Equalizer (Ad-vanced only), Dynamics, Imager, Exciter and Dithering. The Advanced tool also gives you the ability to use all modules as separate plug-ins in your DAW or sound editor — in essence, for the price of one mastering tool you get seven functionalities.

Ozone 6 supports sampling rates of up to 192kHz and has extensive automation sup-port. Its modules are modeled to analog processing units, but combined with linear-phase precision. Nowhere is sound quality sacrificed for better performance in terms of speed or CPU power consumption. With Ozone 6 you’ll always end up with the best possible audio quality.

The app as well as the plug-in also allows you to compare your settings with up to four history points. The standalone app offers in/out fading and trimming, which is great when you’re quickly editing a score that must fit a movie, for example. In addition, it supports file export with automatic dithering and sample rate conversion, as well as third-party plug-ins.

The standalone app as well as the plug-in versions both sport a dramatically-updated interface with a whole new way of activating modules and icons that tell you what they are in the blink of an eye. Overall, the new interface looks great and I found it doesn’t need much adapting to. It is very intuitive indeed.

The Advanced version includes the Insight system as well as support for third-party plug-ins.

In standalone mode, Ozone 6 allows you to master multiple sound files. As tradition wants it, Ozone 6 comes with a generous bunch of presets. There are three categories: Balanced, Heavy and Light. Heavy is for quieter mixes, Light for louder mixes. If you want to, you can import Ozone 5 presets, but not all of them will work the way you ex-pect.

The ‘ordinary’ equalizer in Ozone 6 hasn’t changed much from the previous version, although I noticed one new filter type (Baxandall). Quality of output hasn’t changed either with this filter. Especially with the equalizers, I did find the new interface much more informative than the previous one. The ordinary one has eight bands to play with. Equalizers have three display modes: a spectrum view, a main view and an all-bands view. The main view shows a tab per band. Clicking the tab reveals a deeper set of parameters applying only to that band.

Together with the ability to magnify sound (click-hold the band’s node then holding the Option key depressed) you can fine-tune each band’s sound characteristics. Effects can be very subtle this way. In Digital mode, you can set the selected band to shift phases using a phase slider. 

Alternatively, you can set it to Surgical mode, which changes the filter curve to exact shapes — losing out on the musical quality.

The ordinary EQ also comes with a Match EQ button, allowing you to match the EQ to the spectrum or frequency response of another recording. This Match EQ feature is a digital linear-phase EQ that can use over frequency 8,000 bands for very precise matching.

The Dynamic EQ has four bands and sound-wise it works wonders when you want to reduce a specific frequency. It works the other way around as well, boosting a frequency, but as far as I could tell, the reduction scenario just makes more sense.

The Dynamics module lets you shape the dynamic qualities of your mix across four bands. It processes compression, limiting and expansion. You can have this module work for you by selecting automatic gain compensation. This works well but it’s only available when all four bands are selected.

Imager lets you set the stereo image for up to four bands and has a polar sample and level vectorscope, a Lissajous scope and a correlation meter. You can choose from three displays: crossover view, stereo widths spectrum and correlation view trace.

The Exciter module is one of those modules that have been made a lot more intuitive to use. You can give up to four specific frequency bands a boost, using six different saturation types (warm, retro, tape, tube, triode, dual triode).

The Maximizer lets you boost the overall level of a mix without sacrificing dynamics or clarity due to iZotope’s Intelligent Release Control (IRC). In essence, it makes every-thing louder without introducing musical artifacts. There are four styles to choose from and three levels of IRC complexity. I couldn’t make IRC III work on my Mac in realtime without some serious ugly feedback. This is documented in the user guide where it says IRC III is very CPU-intensive as it is based on advanced psycho-acoustic models.

Finally, the Dithering module looks different but comes with iZotope’s MBIT+ Dither for the best possible conversion to different bit depths.

Erik Vlietinck regularly contributes Reviews to Post. He can be reached online at :
Skype: erikvlie