Gear of the Year 2018: Best Software Effect/Utility

Gear of the Year 2018, iZotope Ozone 8

Last year iZotope topped our list for Best Software Effect/Utility. Will it do it again this year? Find out below…

Gear of the Year 2018, iZotope Ozone 8

WINNER: iZotope Ozone 8

Price £389 (Advanced)
Contact Time+Space | 01837 55200 | iZotope

No matter how many features we run about it, the dark art of mastering seems to remain as baffling to some as it did back in the day when mastering engineers wore white coats and whispered in hushed tones to one another about what the heck it was they actually damn-well did. Mastering is, when all is said and done, polishing your mix up to professional standards. Add a bit of EQ here, a sprinkling of limiting and compression there to control the loudness and you’re done. There, you see, we’ve told you in one line what ‘they’ refused to divulge.

The trouble is – and it’s quite a bit of trouble in 2018 – that you are no longer mastering for the best quality to play on the radio. You want your music to sound good on a huge variety of streaming sites, too. So software developers have tried to take the strain out of this – none more successfully than iZotope with Ozone, which lets you hear your finished masters at various different compression settings.

Alex Holmes said: “Ozone comes with a host of features aimed at mastering, and 11 modules – Equalizer, Dynamics, Dynamic EQ, Imager, Exciter, Vintage EQ, Vintage Tape, Vintage Compressor, Vintage Limiter, Spectral Shaper and Maximizer. The most exciting new addition is the AI Mastering Assistant, where you select whether you want to aim for streaming or CD target mastering. If you’re in the market for an advanced set of tools to develop your mastering, this covers a lot of bases.”

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Read our full review here.

Highly commended

FabFilter Pro-L 2

FabFilter Pro-L 2

Price £149
Contact FabFilter

Talking of mastering and limiting, here we have an update to one of MusicTech’s favourite limiters, the FabFilter Pro-L. Pro-L 2 adds a new GUI and a range of eight limiting algorithms, each designed with their own character, providing eight different flavours which can be applied to different material.

Mike Hillier was certainly impressed in his review: “Having a range of algorithms for mastering is incredibly useful, and will allow mastering engineers to pick out the exact tone they want to achieve, even if the differences at modern loudness levels are incredibly subtle. For mastering engineers and those working in post-production, the Pro-L 2 is essentially a must-buy. It’s an incredible achievement. It’s a clear improvement on a limiter we had already given full marks to, and as such, easily deserves to be in your arsenal, whether for mixing or mastering.”

Read our full review here.

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