by Craig Jackman
I like compression. I like compression a lot. It’s an effect that makes what I do sound better, although it’s all too easy to overuse. Even though I like compression, I’ve never really been head over heels in love with any of the compressors I’ve used - hardware or software. Of all of the ones I’ve used my favorite is the Waves C4 multi-band compressor/limiter. As the final touch on a mix that has to blast through the clutter, it’s one that I’ve reached for. When I heard that the ingenious young people at iZotope were working on a multi-band compressor/limiter with EQ called Ozone, I was looking forward to seeing what it could do. In case you’ve forgotten, iZotope is the company that makes Vinyl, the free software plug-in that emulates a turntable. Handy for CDs and turntable-less studios and it’s the most enjoyable bit of code I’ve come across in a long time.
Ozone is a Direct-X only plug-in with support for Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT, ME, and XP. Ozone is an analog mastering system that will work with Cool Edit Pro, Sound Forge, or any other audio software that supports DX. If your software supports RTAS, VST, or TDM you are out of luck, although it may work with the right adapter. Just like every piece of software ever designed it seems, Ozone was late to market. Was it worth the extra wait? Two answers: a definite yes and a qualified no.
In use, the GUI (graphic user interface—what you see on the screen) is amazing. Everything is very easy to access, and the animation is beautiful. More on that later. You may have to adjust your screen settings to use Ozone. It’s a large GUI to get all the information in, so this is how they chose to do it. Some display settings work fine, and on others, Ozone pops in too big to use. On my 19" monitor, it will almost totally cover the audio information I’m working on.
Internal processing is 64-bit, which gives lots of headroom and low distortion even if you are using 16-bit files. The available effects are Paragraphic EQ, Mastering Reverb, Loudness Maximizer, Multi-band Harmonic Exciter, Multi-band Dynamics (compressor/limiter/expander), and Multi-band Stereo Imaging. You can select what order the effects go in, however, all the Multi-band modules have to stay together. Individual modules can be bypassed or soloed, and there is a global bypass to compare your effect to the original file.