With the release of iZotope’s Neutron 2 and Ozone 8 your mixes are about to get a lot better, a lot quicker. Revolutionising the way that engineers approached mixing, Neutron took the audio world by storm with it’s creative UI and processing. Ozone has been a heavy hitter in the industry for years. With the introduction of some new features, you can be sure it’s going to carry on being a go-to tool.
We’re going to have a first look at the new, the improved, and the downright awesome features in both releases.
The perfect start
Neutron was a game changer in the way that engineers approached mixing. By introducing Track Assistant, mix engineers could instantly clean up muddy guitars, add sparkle to vocal tracks, and make drums clear and punchy. With Neutron 2 there have been a host of small changes that add up to create big differences. The ability to adjust more compressor settings has been added, as well as the piano instrument detection being improved. The Track Assistant, to me, seems more well rounded and finely tuned than in Neutron – and is a massive improvement. I found little to no need to tweak the Track Assistant settings that it had dialled in for me.
Every tool you’ll ever need.
Neutron 2 comes packed with 6 award-winning modules. From the basic bread and butter – EQ and compression, to multi-band compression, multi-band exciter and transient shapers – you’re covered for all of your sound sculpting needs. The exciter certainly adds that level of analogue warmth and vibe that really bring your instruments alive. You’ll also have the ability to order the signal chain yourself as you did in Neutron.
See everything in a new way
One of the coolest additions to Neutron 2 is the Visual Mixer. Essentially an X/Y axis of panning and volume, it represents every instance of Neutron you have open. You’ll be able to adjust the panning and volume of each track from inside the Visual Mixer. The option to show and hide tracks also lets you keep your workspace clean as you mix. Inside the plugin, you’ll have access to three ‘snapshots’ which you can save instances of hidden and shown tracks. A couple of applications we thought of was to do your drum balancing or to have all of your guitar stems in a snapshot so you can see where they sit in the mix.
Unmasking your mix
Neutron’s Masking Meter allows you to visually identify perceptual frequency collisions, which can result in guitars masking lead vocals, bass covering up drums, and other issues that can cause a “muddy” or overly crowded mix. Sculpting out the right space for each instrument is key to having a clean mix that lets each track speak.
Mastering is a dark art in its own right. If you thought that mixing was difficult, then a good mastering engineer looks like the second coming… Luckily, for those that tend to master with a hammer instead of a scalpel, iZotope has us covered! Ozone has been a big player in the industry for a long time now, and with some of the new features in Ozone 8, mastering couldn’t seem easier.
Balance in all things
The Tonal Balance Control is an astounding piece of software, and its beauty is in its simplicity. The Tonal Balance Control plugin wants to sit at the end of the effects chain on your master buss, and analyses the audio coming in. Giving the user ‘target’ bars to keep the frequencies in, you can edit any Neutron or Ozone EQ open in the project from the Tonal Balance Control plugin. If you want a reference for how loud your frequency bands should be then the Tonal Balance Control is invaluable.
The Mastering Assistant analyses your tracks sonic profile to help you find a strong starting point for your for your signal chain. You’ll cut precious time from just setting up the FX chain, and more time fine tuning your signature sound. You’ll also have the option to set up your mastering chain for either Streaming or CD. Both have unique paths and loudness ratings – so you can hear that they’re preparing for different mediums.
Shaping the sound
You can smooth and sculpt problematic and harsh frequencies with the new Spectral Shaper module. Mould your audio by applying frequency-specific dynamics surgically or creatively to create smooth, balanced audio. Spectral Shaper can tame sibilant hi-hats, harsh vocals, plucky acoustic guitars, and other overly-bright mix elements. For a creative twist, use Spectral Shaper across any frequency band to experiment with timbre, resonance, and transient information.
There is certainly a lot to be excited about, and iZotope are giving more incentives to bundle up with the interconnectivity between Neutron 2 Advanced and Ozone 8 Advanced. I’m excited to get these plugins on new projects, and also see how it changes my mixing style when going back to old mixes as well.
If you’re after some serious audio correction and manipulation, then the Music Production Suite is definitely the pickup. It also contains the Nectar 2 Production Suite (the go-to software to get your vocals to pop and shine), vocal synth for all of your creative vocoder and electronic FX, Ozone 8, Neutron 2, RX6 and more…