Music producers around the world have a whole host of options available to them when selecting which software to master their tracks with. There are several industry leaders in the field, such as Sequoia, WaveLab Pro, and Ozone. It’s the final one from this selection that we will be paying particular attention to today as we attempt to answer the question; Ozone 8 Standard vs Advanced, which one is right for you?
iZotope’s Ozone software has been around for several years now. With each version seemingly a welcome upgrade from the previous generation, there are plenty of features to get your teeth into as a producer.
There are so many features that Ozone is available in three separate packages. The Elements package is the introductory level one; then we have Ozone Standard followed by Ozone Advanced. Our feature today is going to focus on the standard and advanced packages.
As you can imagine, these packages come with particular and pre-defined abilities and options. They are, in essence, aimed at different users who require slightly other things from their software. But which version of the acclaimed program is right for you, standard or advanced?
In this article, we’ll be diving into the details of what each version of Ozone offers, comparing the two, and outlining who may be better suited to each one. We’ll also be taking on and answering some of the most frequently asked questions about Ozone, as well as outlining several competitors that may be worth considering if you’re in the market.
Main Differences Between Ozone Standard vs Ozone Advanced
The main differences between Ozone standard and Ozone Advanced are:
- The advanced version includes tonal balance control, whereas it is not included with the standard package.
- The advanced version features spectral shaper, whereas the standard version does not.
- The vintage compressor module is not included with the standard version, whereas it is with the Ozone Advanced.
- The vintage tape model is also not included with the standard version, whereas with Advanced, you will have access to it.
- Vintage EQ model is available with Ozone Advanced, whereas, with Ozone Standard, it is not.
- Additional post EQ is also available with the advanced version, whereas Ozone 8 Standard does not feature it.
- Finally, the codec preview is included with the advanced version, whereas it is missing from the standard one.
Aside from this list of apparent differences, there are many similarities between the two. For example, they both allow you to do the same thing fundamentally (master your tracks) although with varying degrees of speed and detail.
Some features are present across both versions. These are;
- Master assistant
- Vintage limiter module
- Low latency maximization
Both versions are subject to regular updates, meaning these features change regularly. The software’s overall look and feel the same, regardless of which versions you have opted for.
Key Specifications of Each
|Ozone Standard||Ozone Advanced|
|Number of features||56||83|
|System requirements||Mac: OS X 10.11 El Capitain – 10.15 Catalina |
* Intel-based Apple computers only (not yet ARM)
PC: Win 7 64-bit (Latest Service Packs)–Win 10
|Mac: OS X 10.11 El Capitain – 10.15 Catalina |
* Intel-based Apple computers only (not yet ARM)
PC: Win 7 64-bit (Latest Service Packs)–Win 10
|Price||See here for the latest price||See here for the latest price|
Exploring the Ozone 8 Standard and Advanced Features
Here is a little more detail around the main features you can expect to see from both versions.
Ozone 8 Standard – Features
One of the standout features and benefits of Ozone is the incorporation of machine learning and AI assistance. These innovative new technologies have been included with the standard version and allow users more flexibility around their work whilst speeding up what can often be a long and arduous task.
This AI assistance provides a starting point for mastering and is able to provide guidance and assistance throughout the process. This means that for those looking to learn the art of mastering, it is possible to do so with the standard version, rather than having to pay full price for the advanced one.
There is an almost exhaustive list of features that are included with the standard version. Here, we’ll take a look at the key ones.
You can A/B test your reference track against your master copy quickly and easily within the program. As it is incorporated into the workflow, it provides an essential focal point for the mastering process. You can load a maximum of ten tracks at once, and focal points, such as the chorus, are automatically identified for ease of use and improved efficiency.
Proper dithering is one of the final stages of the mastering process and one that is essential to the overall quality of the finished article. Efficient dithering ensures no major loss of quality when the track is converted to lower bitrates. Thankfully, this essential mastering process is catered for in the standard Ozone version.
Ozone’s master assistant was a significant upgrade from the previous generation and has won many plaudits since its release. Included with standard, it analyzes your track’s sonic profile and makes suggestions for a starting point, processor settings, and loudness.
The intensity of the master can also be controlled with low, medium, and aggressive settings. These settings can also optimize audio for streaming services or more traditional listening formats such as CDs. You can also automatically attenuate harsh frequencies and set dynamics quickly by simply playing a section of your track, the program does the rest.
Also included with the standard version is the ability to quickly and easily match EQ settings. The software uses over 8,000 EQ bands to generate a precise snapshot and allows producers to get a perfect match to their point of reference.
This is a really good feature as it saves a serious amount of time in the mastering process. You simply upload a section of a track to use as a reference and away you go. There is also the ability to save these points of reference for use in future tracks, again adding to the usability of Ozone 8 standard.
The highly regarded mastering limiter featured across Ozone products is also included. Featuring Transient and Modern modes is better than ever and allows audio engineers to generate more transparent limiting but with less pumping, all at higher volumes. This is perfect when you need to trim kick drums without having your vocals pump or give your latest club track real impact.
It’s great that this is included as standard as you can stop your masters from clipping whilst boosting the overall audio quality and feel. This means greater loudness without sacrificing that all-important detail.
Adjusting stereo width during the mastering process can be a pain. Thankfully even with the standard version of Ozone, you’ll have access to the imager module. It works with a maximum of four frequency bands and provides close control of your track’s stereo width via its frequency.
There are a vectorscope and correlation meter built in that offer invaluable visual assistance and feedback. This also includes a stereo balance meter and polar vectorscope mode.
In addition to the Dynamic EQ feature, Ozone includes two equalizer modules within its standard package. Each of these contains eight bands with fully adjustable filters that cover a variety of filter shapes.
This feature of Ozone really comes into its own when initially shaping your master. Once you have done this you can take advantage of post-EQ to hone in on and refine the details of your track.
Another brilliant inclusion is the variety of vintage modules included with both the standard and advanced packages. These are as follows;
- Vintage Limiter
- Vintage EQ
- Vintage Tape
- Vintage Compressor
You can boost and refine several elements of your track using these features like the Limiter which will help add character and an analog-sounding feel to the finished article.
The vintage EQ lets you smooth out your master’s low end and bring an element of brightness to the mix. It will also allow you to add substantial body to any digital recordings.
If you feel your mix is lacking a certain feel and richness then adding some tape saturation to your recordings could help. All the distortion, coloration, and phase effects you’d normally associate with tape recordings can be added digitally.
Add a subtle warmth to your track with the vintage compressor function. It features program-dependent release times so can create specific release shapes and patterns that adapt authentically to your sound. Get the highs nice and clear, the mids fully of body, and the lows packing a punch with this excellent feature.
In previous generations of Ozone, the Dynamic EQ functionality has been reserved exclusively for the advanced version. However, you now have access to it through the standard package as well.
An integral part of the mastering process, you can get total control over your tracks using the precision of an equalizer alongside the functionality of a compressor, all integrated into one feature.
An intuitive visual workflow with excellent feedback, Dynamic EQ is essential to getting the most from your mixes and adds a whole new level when compared with traditional compressors and EQs.
Ozone 8’s final key feature is the Exciter. This is yet another tool that has only recently been made available across both iterations of the software. The Exciter allows you to bring a certain character and warmth to any frequency band in any part of the mix. This ability to differentiate between elements allows for greater creative control and an almost endless list of possible sonic outcomes.
Ozone 8 Advanced – Features
Before we get into the specific features of the advanced package, it’s important to bear in mind the advanced version contains all of the features that we have already discussed. Plug-in functionality is also available for these features, something that is not with the standard version.
Here’s a rundown of the key additional features that you’ll be able to make use of should you go for Ozone’s advanced option. What we found was that a lot of these extra features were mainly beneficial to those music engineers who value speeding up the time the whole mastering process takes, or those who are completing multiple projects at once.
The Master rebalance functionality allows you to separate and tweak the volume of drums, vocals, and bass in any audio, including stereo bounce. Being able to edit and change the levels of these elements without the original files is a hugely powerful tool for any audio engineer.
You can make changes to the sound and feel of your track such as lowering the bass guitar or boosting vocals without using things like compressors. This all adds to the efficiency of the program and could save you hours spent obsessing over minute EQ details. Being able to balance your mix perfectly greatly improves the ease and speed at which tracks can be finished.
Low-end frequencies are notoriously difficult to deal with during the mastering process. These days many tracks require a clear low end but unfortunately using compressors and EQs hinders that clarity.
The Low-end focus feature of Ozone Advanced helps mitigate these challenges and gives you easy-to-use controls to add clarity and sharpness to ‘bassier’ sounds.
It also has the added ability to create what Ozone refers to as ‘magic’. By this, they mean that using Low-end focus can often add something that may be missing, even if you’re not quite sure what that is.
Again, this is a feature that aids the overall speed at which you can master your tracks and maybe better suited to professional sound engineers or those looking to complete multiple projects at once.
Tonal Balance Control
Tonal balance control is a plug-in feature included with Ozone Advanced that allows you to target any specific genre and use it as a template from which to master your project tracks.
This plug-in achieves this through a set of 12 target curves that identify and fix problems with balance in your mix that lead to poor listening experiences.
Each track you master will have different needs and requirements, with Tonal Balance Control you can set a benchmark and use template curves from genres from reggae to rock. You can even use previously completed tracks as a guide to aid in completing work with the same style characteristics and sounds.
Harsh frequencies can also be a nightmare during the mixing and mastering process. If you do decide to opt for the advanced package that Ozone offer then you’ll be glad to hear that the Spectral Shaper feature tackles this.
It allows you to shape your audio through the application of dynamics that are frequency-specific and create a balanced and smooth overall sound. This is particularly useful when tweaking transients as Spectral Shaper can tame and improve track elements like harsh vocals, overconfident guitars, and brash high hats. This is an important weapon to add to the arsenal of any serious producer.
Ozone Standard vs Advanced – Pros and Cons
Ozone Standard Pros
- Contains a great range of features
- Is suitable for a wide range of musicians
- Ideal for those with less mastering experience
- Has all the necessary features for mixing and mastering your own tracks
- Attractive price point
Ozone Standard Cons
- Doesn’t feature all the same functions as the advanced version
- More experienced or professional sound engineers will want the full version
- Isn’t as good as the advanced version if running multiple projects at the same time
Ozone Advanced Pros
- Includes all of the features need to master your own tracks, plus others at the same time
- Great for speeding up the overall process
- Contains industry-leading technology to aid the mastering process
- Perfect for experienced or professional sound engineers
Ozone Advanced Cons
- This is a professional standard software, as such, it isn’t the best for first-timers
- Very expensive
Are there Any alternatives?
Bx_masterdesk is a great plug-in tool that is suitable for a wide range of musicians, including beginners. It is regarded by many as the ultimate tool for getting masters done quickly and easily. Whilst you may not get the absolute top-end professional quality, the results are more than good enough for most.
The option is available as a plug-in for your digital audio workstation, or DAW. Simply download it and run it using whichever DAW you prefer.
You can also read more about DAWs and which one may be best for your production needs.
Softube Curve Bender
Softube’s Curve Bender is a classic example of a mastering EQ and one that has been loved by audio engineers for decades now. It’s been used to master many well-known tracks and now that it’s available as a downloadable plug-in, anyone from bedroom producers to professional technicians is able to use it.
It’s known for adding a level of presence to tracks and also allows you to midsize the process, meaning the overall project is easy and straightforward to complete.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ozone
Question: How long Does a Master usually Take From Beginning to End With Ozone?
Answer: How long is a piece of string? It depends on your experience level but professional audio engineers can usually master an entire track in around 20-30 minutes.
Although it will take years of practice to build this kind of speed up, using some of the great features, particularly in Ozone Advanced, will help bring your total time way down.
Question: How Much Headroom do I Need to Leave for Mastering?
Answer: When producing your track using software such as Ableton or Reaper, it’s important to leave headroom on your finished track. This is so that a mastering engineer has room in which to work, leaving them able to adjust EQ frequencies correctly. The recommended amount is between 3 and 6 dB.
Final Thoughts – Which Version of Ozone is Right for You?
After reviewing both versions of the software it became apparent quite quickly who they will appeal to. If you are an amateur producer looking at mastering your tracks then the standard version will work just fine for you. Included are all the features needed to produce a track of professional sound quality. The price is also much more attractive to those not making a living from music.
If, on the other hand, you are a slightly more experience mastering engineer, or you just need the ability to get tracks mastered as quickly as possible then we recommend spending the extra money and opting for the advanced version of Ozone. The real difference between the two we felt was in the workflow areas. Ozone advanced included a number of features that aid the overall speed at which you can get great-sounding masters finished.
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