Mastering With Izotope Ozone Advanced 5:
When producing your own track, the last bit left before releasing is mastering the track to bring out and balance the sound, as well as making the track sound fantastic on multiple sound systems.
What’s the Goal of Dynamics Processing when Mastering?
A consistent listening experience is one of the desirable effects of a good master. In some cases, such as a classical recording, a wide dynamic range is expected and enjoyed, but in many other cases, the listener does not want to have to constantly reach for the volume control between the verse and a chorus of a song, or even between songs on an album.
Dynamics processing can help reduce or expand the dynamic range as needed, which helps empower the listener to enjoy the recording rather than feeling the need to adjust it. It can also provide additional sonic enhancements by transparently highlighting certain frequency elements or instruments within a mix…or the reverse, smearing the transients for a more gluey, tighter sound.
Principles of Dynamics Processing
Mastering the dynamics of a mix using compressors, limiters, and expanders is probably the most challenging step of the process, but the one that can make the most difference between a basement tape and a commercial-sounding mix. Taking the time to understand dynamics processing can be well worth the effort.
There are a few things that make mastering dynamics challenging:
The effect is subtle, at least if done correctly. It’s not something you clearly hear, like a flanger or reverb or so forth, but instead something that changes the character of the mix. If you think about it, compression removes something (dynamic range) and so what you will hear is the absence of something.
A compressor is not necessarily working all the time. Since it changes in response to the dynamics in the music, you can’t listen for one specific effect. Level histograms and compression meters (such as those provided in Ozone) can be invaluable for referencing when the compression is occurring, and by how much.
Not all compressors are created equal. While the concept is simple enough—restrain the volume when it crosses a threshold—the design and implementation (and therefore the quality) of compressors varies considerably. Applying a quality compressor correctly, however, can smooth the peaks and valleys in your mix and make it sound fuller, smoother, or allow you to increase the average level (if that’s the desired goal).
Using the Ozone Dynamics Module
Ozone includes a multiband, multi-function dynamics processor. Before you jump into the multiple dimensions provided by this module, I recommend you always start with just the simplest case: a single-band compressor.