Review: Ozone 5 Advanced audio mastering plug-in

Creating a good audio master is necessary for any type of audio project, whether it be voice-over or music. To create a perfect master, you need a perfect hearing, skills, and tools that support your ears. One of the best plug-ins that can help you with this task is iZotope’s Ozone 5 Advanced, a high quality professional mastering plug-in that I tested with Apple Logic Pro.

Ozone 5 is a 64-bit audio processing system with a highly efficient user interface. With iZotope Ozone 5 Advanced, you can create the perfect audio mix for any job. Ozone 5 Advanced is to be used after all other effects and mastering has been applied to your sound project. It’s the plug-in that makes the complete project sound better (or worse if you don’t know what you’re doing).

Ozone 5 Advanced has many improvements compared to version 4:

  • Better workflow
  • Nicer interface
  • New Digital Signal Processing algorithms
  • A whole set of informative meters and visual tools that can be viewed in a full screen window
  • Individual plugins for each Ozone 5 module.

Ozone 5 Advanced has modules that also function as separate plug-in:

  • Maximizer
  • Paragraphic Equalizer (2 of them)
  • Dynamics
  • Stereo Imaging
  • Harmonic exciter
  • Dithering
  • Reverb.

The plug-in has a “Meter Bridge” that can display its information in a separate window, with each meter or graph individually customizable. The Harmonic Exciter in the Advanced version of Ozone 5 has new Triode Modes, modeled after circuits with a 12AX7 vacuum tube.

Ozone 5 Advanced tests

I tested Ozone 5 Advanced using the latest version of Logic Pro as the host app. The first thing that you’ll notice when using Ozone 5 is the size of its window: it’s much bigger than the previous version’s, and therefore much more confortable to work with. Ozone 5 is a 64-bit plug-in, so you’ll be able to run Logic in 64-bit mode.

As its predecessor, Ozone 5 comes with a large range of presets, so you don’t have to start from scratch. Signal routing can still be customised by dragging the modules in the routing windows to a different location. Most of the parameters you can set for each of the modules are set with the same controls as the previous version.

However, the most obvious improvement is with the meters. They offer more and are better at displaying the information, resulting in more instantaneous feedback. For example, with filters that potentially have multiple frequency bands to work with, each band will now have a different colour, which makes seeing where you are adjusting a lot easier.

Each module is separately available as filter in any app supporting Audio Units (or the other systems supported by Ozone, like VST). This means you can use the Exciter or Equalizer module in Logic, but also in Final Cut Pro. Additionaly, each meter can be applied to any mixer channel in your host app. Meters don’t induce latency at all, which is great, because by using this capability — Meter Tap plug-ins viewable as individual meters through the so-called Meter Bridge — you can show meters per channel, but also a combination view of meters.

With the Spectrum analyzer, for example, I could easily see the constant bass organ tone overpowering the rest of my score, even without listening. Turning down the bass tone volume immediately showed the spectrum colour of the sound of the other track to show through as peaks and troughs.

The I/O meters have been improved too; you can now choose between traditional dB meters, a K-System metering, or the newer BS.1770 loudness metering, which measures sound pressure according to ITU-R BS.1770-2 and the EBU R128 recommendations.

Some of the modules have been improved or added to. For example, the reverb plug-in has been enhanced, which is clearly audible when selecting a preset and then building further on that. There’s also a history button and a related A/B/C comparison capability, which is incredibly useful for those instances when you really don’t know which is better unless you can quickly play the alternatives one after the other.

The Exciter filter has two new modes, based on the 12AX7 triode vacuum tube: Triode, which applies half a tube to overdrive, and Dual Triode, which uses an entire tube. The results of the sound after applying the Dual Triode — at least, to my ears — were close to sound coming out of my Musical Fidelity headphones amplifier.

The Match feature lets you match the equalizer settings of one project to those of another. Very useful because you can tune yourself how exact the match should be.

Ozone 5 Advanced applied: the results are in

After having applied the Equalizer filter, Harmonic Exciter, Reverb, and Stereo Imaging filters to a short piece of music I composed in Logic, the sound was exactly what I wanted ti to be: more “open”, better stereo image, a tad more “oomph” and more brilliant highs.

The whole thing sounded better than when I started with Logic’s default settings. The question then remains if Ozone 5 Advanced is only for music, and the answer is that it isn’t. In my opinion, even ‘simple’ podcast recordings can benefit hugely from being mastered with ozone 5, but for voice-overs and spoken voice recordings Ozone 5 may give you enough power. For anything else, I’d recommend Ozone 5 Advanced because of its unique features that set it far above anything else available for this price.

Ozone 5 costs approx. €150.00 and Ozone 5 Advanced is approx. €450.00.