Back in 2012, we spoke to Producer/Engineer Andy Sneap about why he loves using iZotope’s Ozone 5 mastering software. Over three years later, and now in its seventh version, Ozone remains a concrete part of the Grammy winner’s set-up so we caught up with Andy to see how he’s getting on with the latest features in the critically acclaimed software.
And of course, we couldn’t speak to him without mentioning his involvement with Toontrack either!
Hi Andy, we last spoke to you for the T+S blog over three years ago, what have you been up to lately?
It was a busy end to last year. I had Fear Factory, Amon Amarth, Saxon, Katakylsm, Despised Icon and Stuck Mojo albums throughout the year so I’m now enjoying a much needed months break, pottering around the studio talking to guitars and song writing for the new Hell record… so it’s not so much a break as just a bit less pressure. Work starts again in a couple of weeks with a Saxon DVD.
At the time, we were really impressed with your studio in Derbyshire, have you added any notable pieces of new gear to your set-up since then?
I spent a few weeks having it rewired with TT patch bays so I could properly use all the outboard stuff I’ve accumulated over the years, so that’s nice. I bought a couple of new compressors (Lindell and TK) and upgraded the Protools rig with mac mini and chassis (with UA and HDX cards). Loving the way the SSL now runs with the delta control software.
We spoke about your use of iZotope’s Ozone 5 Mastering Suite, and now, 3 and a bit years later, you’ve got Ozone 7 installed in your studio, what do you particularly love about this latest version?
Yeah, what happened to 6? I missed 6! I like the auto level comparison, that was something I really liked about Slates mastering comp and the TC finalizer. It really helps you to start noticing when you are affecting the mix. The EQ match is easier to follow now and works great. I’ll use this on its own if I’m having to match an overdub in a live setting for instance.
Do you find much use for the new Vintage modules?
I haven’t yet but it’s still a bit new to me. I have used the eq in a pultec type manner to brighten a vocal and it seemed to work nicely. I tend to use Ozone more for corrective stuff rather than colour.
iZotope upgraded their mastering limiter with the new IRC-IV algorithm for this version, have you had a chance to take advantage of this feature and if so what’s your opinion of it?
It seems pretty transparent, again if I’m honest, IRC3 in clipping mode is still my go-to final limiter. I haven’t found another limiter that allows me to get as loud without destroying the transients and feel of the mix.
What about the new Codec Preview feature? Is that something you’ve been using in your work?
No, I get the reasoning behind it but I haven’t used it.
How well do you think Ozone lends itself to users just starting out in music production?
To me it seems really easy and straight forward. It may be a little in depth for a beginner but I’d say the user interface is pretty intuitive and the presets a good starting point if you need a bit of guidance.
Do you find, more often than not, you’re mastering ‘out of the box’ these days?
No, never. I’m mixing out of the box and using outboard gear on my stereo bus back into the computer so there’s no need really.
Are you using any other iZotope software?
I used the free Vinyl plug in to smash up an Amon Amarth track we were trying to make sound Sabbathy. It sounded suitably fluffy and scratched. I’ve also recently been playing around with Nectar for working out backing vocals in the correct key, it seems like a cool tool to have, so I’m going to experiment more with that in the coming weeks.
Moving on to Toontrack, since we last spoke, you’ve released an EZmix 2 preset pack, and the Metal Machinery SDX – are you still using Superior Drummer in your own studio when not recording live drums?
I actually don’t have Superior on the new rig. I just grab EZdrummer 2 when writing. I don’t do albums without real drums. I do use EZdrummer for firing ambience back on drums if I have a bad room sound, that’s kinda cool and also replacing cymbal hits if I need to quickly.
EZdrummer is all I need for writing and demos. I love the fact you can now mix the kits and the search functions in the midi grooves are great also. They’re a great company to work with. I know several pro bands have used my EZ mix guitar tones on albums so I think we have managed to get some great results with both the drums and guitar stuff.
Finally, last time we spoke you entertained us with the tale of the very disturbing moment when Warrell from Nevermore sang naked in El Paso – any more interesting stories since then that you’d like to share?
The day was going so well until you brought that image up…. Fun times. I’m afraid what happens in the studio stays in the studio. I like all the people I work with and to be honest most are pretty focused, but we make sure we have a laugh also.