Probably a Silly Mastering Question

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by hunter07, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. hunter07

    hunter07 Active Member

    I just started using Ozone and I like the sounds I'm getting from it. I have one question regarding something I've noticed after mastering a song with it, however.

    I first put Ozone and my mastering configuration on the output track of a song thinking that's how you were supposed to use it. I liked the EQ and everything else I get out of it, but I noticed that it took away the dynamics from the song, so the quiet verses were seemingly compressed to be the same volume as the chorus which I couldn't figure out how to get around besides significantly messing with the volumes for each track.

    I then had the idea to render my original mix down to a wave, then loaded that back into my DAW on its own and put Ozone on that. I get the same quality EQ but I noticed that I maintain the dynamics in doing this. It sounds like my original mix, only mastered.

    I'm very happy with this effect, but my question is why does adding my mastering configuration via Ozone on the output track kill the dynamics and level out the entire track whereas when I put it on a rendered down wave file of the same mix, I don't experience the same effect and get to keep the dynamics?
  2. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Was your master fader at unity when you processed the mix? My guess is it was turned down, so you were feeding ozone a hotter level, which will then be compressed harder as a result.
  3. hunter07

    hunter07 Active Member

    I didn't think of that. Yes it is turned down, actually. I do that because, for these older recordings I'm using it on, I recorded each track with the gain set too high, and rather than adjusting and bringing down each individual track I got them each to not clip individually then brought down the master so that it wouldn't clip. I've since learned my lesson and to record each track much lower but for these tracks that's likely the culprit in this case.
  4. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    That's fine, assuming you're not using Pro-Tools.

    For future reference a couple of other ways to solve the problem would be to run Ozone in a post-fader effects slot if your DAW offers them, or to turn down Ozone's input gain instead of the master fader.

    But its probably better to do what you ended up doing anyway: render the mix without any master processing (as a 24 bit file) then apply Ozone as a separate stage. As you already discovered, plugs like Ozone can have unintended side-effects (especially if you're using presets!) and you might not notice those until its too late.

    Also, mastering is really mostly about making all the songs on your album flow into each other: I find it pays to apply your final processing in context with the rest of the album, rather than mastering each song in isolation.
  5. hunter07

    hunter07 Active Member

    I'm not using Pro Tools so good to know.

    As for the songs flowing, that's something I need to painstakingly address to make sure that they're all at the same level. I'm not planning a physical CD release as of right now so the spacing isn't so much of an issue, but I do need to think about the best way to make sure everything comes out at the same level... whether that's doing each track at a time and making sure they're set to the same level when finished or if that's putting everything onto one massive track, mastering them all at once, then cutting them up... That's the aspect of "mastering" which Ozone obviously doesn't cover.
  6. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Which version of Ozone are you using? I think ver. 4 and up features K-Scale metering, which can be really useful if you want a consistent output. I'm still on version 3 (I only ever use the dither to be honest!)

    Failing that check out Voxengo SPAN, which does K-Scale and is also a very useful analyzer (and free!).

    I explain K-Scale metering in this video I made for FabFilter Pro-L:

  7. hunter07

    hunter07 Active Member

    I am running Ozone 4 actually and just checked out the K Scale "type" setting (called K system in Ozone 4 I see) in the I/O.

    I'm a bit daft here; should I be loading up after-rendered non-Ozone tweaked Waves of each song into my DAW in one line, then apply Ozone EQ AND K-Scale to all of these tracks on the Output together at once...

    OR should I render each song, load them individually into my DAW, apply Ozone EQ to each song, render each song when it sounds how I want it, THEN load all of these songs into my DAW in one line and apply only the K-Scale aspect of it (no more EQ or other effects)?

    Hopefully you get what I'm asking here because I can't think of what I need to do.

    edit* Nice video btw, very informative!
  8. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    The best method will depend what you are trying to achieve, and your preferred workflow.

    If I'm mastering an album that was mixed elsewhere, and if it needs a lot of corrective work, then I might process each song individually before pulling them all together into an album project.

    However, if I'm mastering my own mixes (which happens quite often) I keep the overall mix processing quite subtle: if I run into a serious problem I go back to the mix to fix it.

    I personally like to start by lining up all the songs in the correct order, and level matching them all to K-20: I don't worry about absolute volume until the whole album sounds exactly as I want it. I then tend to use a single limiter (always Pro-L these days) over the whole album to raise it to K-14 or K-12 depending on the project. I then listen carefully (with my monitor gain turned down to compensate for the extra gain from the limiter) to make sure it all still sounds the same as it did, usually while watching the limiter's gain reduction metering as a reality check.

    Most of the time I find that by the time I have it sounding the way I want it, the dynamic range is also not excessive, so I can get to my target levels with just a tiny bit of limiting of the very loudest peaks. This is especially true of the acoustic folk / jazz kind of stuff that's mostly coming through my place at the moment, but also usually applies to the more aggressive mixes as well: if it needs to sound aggressive and in-your-face, I will probably have already done that in the mix by compressing or limiting individual channels or sub-groups, and the dynamic range will already be close to where I want it by the time I reach my mastering stage.

    So, I often find that a single limiter setting will do for the whole album. When that isn't the case I might bus different songs to different limiters with different settings, or I might just load another instance of Pro-L for just a single problematic song, and tame the peaks with that before it hits the main limiter.

    Don't forget, you can turn off different sections of Ozone, and load multiple instances if needed: maybe use one instance on the mix bus just for your K-System meters, then add other instances (or other plugs) as needed for limiting, compressing, EQing etc.

    This will rule out all those tempting looking Ozone presets of course. But you should never use those anyway. The golden rule for mastering processing: always know why you are processing the audio, and exactly what you are trying to achieve.
  9. niclaus

    niclaus Active Member

    Nice video IIRs!!!

  10. IIRs

    IIRs Well-Known Member

    Thankyou :biggrin:

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