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Intro to Mastering with iZotope Ozone 5


Eric Tarr here for I’m gonna talk about mastering in a home recording studio and different kinds of processing techniques. I’ll focus on the iZotope Ozone 5 plugin suite. It has different processing modules that can accomplish almost anything you would normally do when mastering a song.

If you’re new to mastering, it’s part of the process of creating a song, where usually a mastering engineer will go in and prepare a song to be played on the radio alongside other songs, or maybe prepare your song to be printed onto a CD or onto a vinyl disc or any other medium. There are some very important steps that need to be done in that process. I’ll be showing you these basic things.

I should say that if you have the time and money, nothing beats sending your completed mix off to a professional mastering engineer that specializes in doing this specific and important task.

Sometimes you don’t have the resources, and if you’re someone comfortable with tracking and mixing, there’s nothing to fear about doing your own mastering. Hopefully I’ll be able to demonstrate some basic and advanced techniques you can do in your home studio and get you up to speed on how you can do your own mastering.

Eventually I’ll be discussing each one of these individual modules inside the iZotope Ozone 5 plugin. I’ll talk about basic functions, controls, their purpose, and I’ll be showing you how I apply them to a mix I’m working on. Let me go ahead and show you the project I’ll be working with. It’s a basic pop/rock or country song.

[song before mastering]

Nothing too fancy. In the tracking stage, multitrack drums were captured. And there’s also bass, electric guitars and acoustic guitars, rhythm and lead guitars, B3 organ, then a bunch of vocals over here. For mixing, again, nothing too spectacular going on. Basically gone in on these individual tracks and I’ve added some compression, some dynamics processing and some equalization.

Then, moving onto the mastering stage, I’ve got all these individual tracks being summed together over here on my master fader. Then I’ve got iZotope Ozone 5 as my only processor inserted here, and it’s gonna be processing all the tracks together as they’re summed onto the master fader.

I’m not gonna be doing anything too dramatic here. I want to point out, if you’re working kind of in the mastering stage, the final polishing steps, and you find that you’re doing a lot of major changes to your mix, it’s usually a better idea rather than trying to fix it at the mastering stage or at the master buss, to go back to your mix and make the changes there. If you find that your dynamics are a bit off, you shouldn’t be trying to fix that too much in mastering. You should go back and if you need to work on the drums or the vocals, you should do that on the mixing on the individual tracks.

There’s two different options that you have she you’re working in a home studio. One idea is that you could take your full mix without any processing on the master fader and bounce this down to a stereo file. This will kind of be like the conventional old-school way where you would have separate stages taking place. Tracking, mixing, and then the mix is sent off to the mastering engineer. What you could do is print your whole session to a stereo file, commit to it and drag it into a brand new session and just work on processing it inside of another session. If your computer doesn’t have a lot resources, this might be a good way to do it. Or if you like the idea of committing to a mix and working with it from there, then you might want to do it that way.

But one of the advantages of doing mastering in a home recording studio is especially if you’re working on the mix, you can continue to work on the mix in relation to the master. So if you are doing some dynamics processing and decide you need the drums to be half a dB loud for half a dB quieter — or the vocals to be up — you can continue to mix into the master, do spectral changes if you need to make them in your mix rather than having to do them all on the master. So that’s a good thing about doing it this way where I’ve got the full session over here — all the processing and everything taking place — I still have access to… and then I’m just inserting this plugin here on my master fader to do all those final processing techniques to prepare my song for the radio or CD or onto vinyl.

So stay tuned for the next video where I’m gonna be showing you how to do some spectral shaping using this first equalization module to prepare my mix for all these other remaining processors after that.


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Eric Tarr

Eric Tarr

Eric Tarr is a musician, audio engineer, and producer based in Columbus, Ohio. Currently a Professor of Audio Engineering Technology at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
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