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Repair, Mix, and Master a Song with iZotope Elements Suite

Transcript
In this video, we’re going to repair, mix, and master a track using RX, Neutron, Nectar, and Ozone Elements.

Let’s start with the most important piece of this mix, the vocal.

So I have a dry, soloed vocal. So this has no time based effects like reverb, or delay, no time based processing like EQ or compression or anything. This is just a bone dry vocal.

So here’s what it sounds like soloed, then I’ll bring it into the mix.

[vocals, then full mix]

So let’s use Nectar Elements to bring this vocal to the next level, have it sit in the mix, and also meet the intensity and energy of everything else happening around it. I’m going to choose a vibe of modern, and an intensity of moderate.

So now when I press Go and play the audio in my DAW, Vocal Assistant will use machine learning and our latest DSP to set some parameters based on what its hearing, and offer me a starting point to help fit this vocal in the mix.

So before we make any more tweaks, let’s have a quick listen to the suggestion that Vocal Assistant setup for us. Here’s before.

[vocal, before Nectar Elements]

And here’s after.

[vocal, after Nectar Elements]

Let’s make some tweaks to really help this vocal shine. The first thing that I want to do is add some reverb. This vocal definitely needs more reverb. So I’ll increase it to the max. Now it sounds like this. If I take it away…

[vocals with and without reverb]

It sounds too dry, so let’s bring it up. Now, next I’m going to bring up the tone, which is our character EQ, to add some brightness and clarity to this vocal.

[vocal, adjusting tone]

If I take it away completely, it sounds like this.

[vocals, no tone adjusted]

Now, remember, the Vocal Assistant set it at one, so that already adds plenty of tone, but I want to add a bit more.

I like where Vocal Assistant placed the dynamic slider at one, so I’ll leave it there.

Dynamics applies compression to the vocal, which will ensure a smooth, consistent level for the singer. Now, this track isn’t very ess-y sounding, meaning there isn’t a lot of sibilance in this vocal that I heard, so I’m going to leave de-ess where it is now at one, which will engage the de-esser a little bit, just in case we do have some super ess-y peaks somewhere else in the mix, but for this passage, I wasn’t hearing too much sibilance.

And I’m also going to leave clarity at one, and clarity will make sure to push down any resonant frequencies that Vocal Assistant heard during its pass. Finally, pitch. I’m not really looking to do any tuning to this vocal, so I’ll leave it at zero.

The last thing I’ll do is increase the output of Nectar Elements. Now, I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, because we started with a dry vocal, right? So we need to make this vocal louder and make it rise to the energy of the rest of the tracks in this session, and second, I’m bringing up the output because some gain reduction is occurring due to the fact that we’ve engaged the dynamic slider, which is our compression. So we need to make up for any loudness that we lost when we compressed the vocal.

I think I’ll bring it up around 2dBs or so.

Let’s do some before and afters, first soloed, then in the mix.

[vocals, before and after]

Let’s do it in the mix now.

[mix, vocals before and after]

So we can hear the reverb and tone slider especially are adding a lot of polish to this vocal, and doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Let’s continue making mixing decisions before moving on to repairing and mastering this track.

So in that spirit, I’d love to make this mix more impactful, and to do that, I’m going to use Neutron Elements to beef up this whole drum stack right here. Here’s what it sounds like currently.

[drums]

And here it is in the mix.

[mix]

I’ve added Neutron Elements to this drum stack that’s over here, and just like we did in Nectar Elements, I’m going to use some assisted technology to bring these drums to life. Using the track assistant feature, I’m going to go for a preset of upfront mid-range, and I’ll make sure some audio is playing in the track, and I’ll hit the Assistant button while the drums are playing.

[drums]

Now, before we make any more tweaks, which we can do, everything in non-destructive, we can decide to tweak some of the modules that Neutron Elements set for us.

Let’s do a before and after.

[drums, before and after Neutron]

Let’s do before and after in the mix.

[mix, drums before and after Neutron]

Right away, things are sounding much more bright and up front, but if I wanted to, I could go into these modules, make some changes, add some EQ nodes, whatever it may be. We can go into transient shaper for example, engage it, and maybe add a little bit more attack to the overall body of this drum buss.

[mix, adjusting drum transient shaper]

Go into the Exciter for example, and change the algorithm from Warm to Tape.

[drums, adjusting Exciter]

Or Retro. Or Tube. Or have a blend of all four.

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Again, let’s do before and after. Here’s before, soloed.

[drums, before and after Neutron]

So way punchier and more up front, and here it is in the mix again. Before…

[mix]

Let’s move on to fixing a few issues that I’m hearing in this mix, most notably some noise happening on the keys, and some hum occurring on the main guitar track. But let’s start with the noise on the keys. Here’s that keys track. Have a listen to that noise that’s almost embedded and printed in the recording.

[keys]

Certainly, if we go to the very beginning of the track, we can hear that noise introduced right away before any notes are played. Here’s that beginning part.

[noise]

So let’s go back to our original cycle. Our loop over here. And now I’ve placed voice de-noise from RX Elements on that track. There it is there. I’ve made sure that a few settings are engaged here. The first is to go with Adaptive Mode, and next we’re going to optimize RX Voice De-Noise for music instead of dialogue, its default.

And that’s pretty much it. Let’s do a before and after. Here’s before.

[keys, before noise reduction and after]

And there’s after. And if you’d like to reduce the noise even further, you can always go to the reduction slider and bring it up from its default of 12dB.

[keys, adjusting reduction]

Do some before and afters now.

[keys, before and after noise reduction]

I think it sounds pretty good where it is at its default of 12dBs. So we can very effortlessly get rid of background noise occurring on tracks that are really important to the vibe of the overall mix.

Let’s take care of some hum that I’m hearing on the guitar now.

So here’s the guitar. We can hear hum embedded in the lower frequencies.

[guitar]

So when the guitar is playing, we don’t hear the hum as much, but when the guitar drops out, it’s much more audible, and we need to take care of it. Using de-hum in RX Elements, we can quickly get rid of this hum by going to the suggest button, which will instruct de-hum to locate and suppress the hum automatically. I’ll play some audio so that de-hum can locate it.

[guitar]

So in a matter of seconds, its located the hum, it’s telling us that it’s at 50.21Hz. Now let’s deselect the suggest button, and hear the before and after. Here’s before.

[guitar, before hum removal and after]

And here’s after. So it’s just a few clicks. We can quickly and easily eliminate hum with RX Elements de-hum.

Now that we’ve polished up this track with Nectar and Neutron Elements, and made some repairs with RX Elements, let’s get this track ready for the market by mastering it with Ozone Elements, which is parked here on my master buss.

I’m going to use Master Assistant to help get me in the ballpark for a louder, more commercially competitive, polished master. If I choose streaming, the Assistant will optimize the processing for a streaming service like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, mostly by ensuring that the maximizer is optimized to an ideal loudness target. If I choose CD, the Assistant will optimize the modules and parameters to make sure the track sounds great on that platform.

I’m going to go with streaming instead, and just like the indicator says here, for the best results, you should play the loudest part of your track — the part of your track that has the most energy, the chorus, and that’s exactly what I’ve done by setting up a loop in Logic on the chorus.

I’ll press Next and play some audio to get Master Assistant started.

[mix]

Let’s have a look and see what Master Assistant did to the various modules in Ozone Elements.

First in EQ, it added a bit of a boost at 53Hz, just to add I guess more oomph in the low end, to the tune of 0.7dBs, and it added a dip here at around 14kHz at 0.3dB.

We can make moves and change these if we want, or keep them the same.

Let’s move on to the imager. I’m going to enable it by pressing here, and what I want to do is add a bit of width and panorama to this master, but not too much that it gets out of control, but just enough so that the vocal which is now very forward sits back a bit more comfortably in the arrangement, and the guitars and keys surround us a bit more in the left and right channel.

So I’m going to increase the width slider as the audio plays to find the sweet spot.

[mix, adjusting imager]

I’m pretty happy with things there at 50.4. So let’s do some before and afters with gain match enabled so that we don’t get a big jump in level when we go back to before from after. What I’m looking for is for that vocal to sit back a little bit further into the overall arrangement, and for a wider stereo image. Here’s before.

[mix, before mastering and after]

Now, like most moves in mastering, going from before and after with the imager, it’s a subtle change, but its an important one. The vibe has been warmed up a lot, and that vocal is sitting a little bit further back, not so in your face as it was before, but we also have a warmer tone from the keys and guitars, which are a little bit further in the left and right channel.

Finally, the maximizer. So we can see that the threshold was dropped by Master Assistant around 9.7dBs, and this was to make sure that we hit a target output level of -14 LUFS over here. The reason this happened is because most streaming services will play back their tracks at around -14 LUFS, so we know that we don’t have to be any louder than that.

Let’s do a big loudness match before and after all of our processing to see how far we’ve come.

So here is before we mixed the vocal, drums, repaired the guitar and keys, and polished our whole track with mastering.

[mix, unprocessed, then processed]

As you can see, the Elements Suite gives you everything you need to go from rough to radio ready.

Thank you so much for watching. Check out our other videos on Nectar Elements to learn how to make the most of this plugin in your next session.

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