1. Ozone 8 or Neutron 2: Which Should I Use?
Neutron is a one-stop tool for mixing in your session that lets you see where masking is happening, and allows you to mix visually in a mono/stereo space without your traditional knobs and faders.
The Advanced versions of both Ozone 8 and Neutron 2 come with the new Tonal Balance Control feature. This unique feature lets you look at the overall tonal centers of your track and compare it to a reference.
Both products do not have to be used exclusively for mixing and mastering. This case is especially true with the Advanced versions of the software, as many of the modules can be used as individual plug-ins. This means that if you need some spectral shaping done on cymbals, use the Ozone Spectral Shaper tool on that cymbal track.
Want to excite frequencies on a master track, but want them to have a subtle warmth? Use the Neutron Exciter module.
When you hear something you don’t like, then hone into the meters and modules that these programs have at your disposal. If you see a track that is masking another, get in there with Dynamic EQ.
All that being said, there are definitely reasons you may need to use one plug-in over the other. One main difference is due to the DSP and interfaces of both plug-ins. As it is designed primarily for mastering, Ozone 8 will often provide a more subtle, transparent sound. This is very handy when Ozone is on your master bus, or when working with the finished stereo mix down, where small changes often have bigger ramifications for your audio.
With Neutron 2, you can still make these small adjustments, but the plug-in also encourages you to go a bit crazy as well. The Multi-band Gate and Transient Shaper modules can drastically change the nature of your tracks. The Vintage mode in the Dynamics modules can add unique percussive character. The individual nodes in the EQ module can be set to Dynamic mode for extra flexibility.
You will also notice many of the features in Neutron 2 lend themselves to working with individual sound sources. Neutrino mode, for example, can be set to Piano, Guitar, Bass, or Vocal. In addition, Track Assistant in Neutron will analyze your audio in the context of an individual instrument, while Ozone will analyze in the context of an entire mix.
The best way to decide between using Ozone and Neutron is to try out the full product demo for each. Our demos allow you to use the full product for 10 days before requiring a serial number.
Watching our videos and reading the resources on our website product pages is another great way to educate yourself on what the products do. Personally, I find that using the demos alongside the tutorial and walkthroughs is the best route. This way you can experience first hand how the software is working and interacting in your DAW or computer environment.
2. How Can Tonal Balance Control Help My Mix?
One of the more common questions the iZotope support team fields is “how can Tonal Balance Control help my mix?” That’s our task today: to break down how to spot potentially problematic frequency areas.
Let’s say that you’re working on an EDM song in your favorite DAW. The genre demands significant low- and low-mid-frequency presence, but the final mix needs to be clear and balanced (word of the day) in order to avoid listener fatigue.
Suppose your mix is too bass-heavy. With at least one instance of Neutron 2 or Ozone 8 on each of the tracks in your DAW, and the Tonal Balance Control plug-in on the final mix bus, the meter display looks like this:
Using our “modern” Target Curve as a template for Tonal Balance Control, you can see that there are two main problem areas: the low and high frequency bands. Basically, the low-end of the track is too loud, and the high-mid and high frequencies aren’t loud enough.
Here’s where Neutron and Ozone’s new interactive capabilities come in.
Using the plug-in selection menu in the bottom left corner of Tonal Balance Control, you can quickly access the equalizer modules from each instance of Ozone 8 or Neutron 2 present in your project, provided that they are instantiated before Tonal Balance Control in the signal flow.
So knowing that the low frequencies are too loud, you use Tonal Balance Control to pull up your Ozone 8 instance (also on the final mix bus) to adjust these levels for the entire mix.
Since Tonal Balance Control can access all the features of Ozone 8’s Equalizer module, you can use a low-shelf curve to bring down the volume of the offending frequencies in the low band range. Once you wrap your head around the concept of using Ozone 8 or Neutron 2 from within Tonal Balance Control, it’s incredibly easy to make mix adjustments with a visual guide that refreshes in real time to display the current state of your mix. In just a few seconds, I’ve corrected the problems with the low, high-mid and high frequencies as well.
With Tonal Balance Control, never again will you fall victim to an unforgiving change in listening environment! Achieving a balanced mix will ensure that your music will be clear and enjoyable on virtually any sound system. We can’t wait to hear what you come up with!
3. Why doesn’t my iLok work?
iLok License Manager
Imagine: you’re on the train, heading home after a nice holiday with your family. You’ve got a brand new laptop loaded up with Ableton Live, your favorite iZo plugs already installed. You have your trusty iLok, and some burning ideas to get down. So you plug that iLok in, fire up Ableton, and try to open Iris 2 to sequence the lead melody.
Bam! You’re prompted for a serial number, but you don’t have one. Why would you? You use iLok, and it’s not working, so now the magic is gone.
That’s a red flag
When your iLok is working correctly, you shouldn’t be asked for a serial number. If you’ve checked your iLok account and the license is there, you absolutely do not need to enter your serial number again—ever.
Many customers will attempt to re-add and report seeing this error message: “Your serial number is invalid or already registered to an iLok account.”
That iLok account it’s talking about is yours! It’s already there. Which brings me to the next tip...
It takes a village to authorize a plug-in
There are three things that need to be done to use iLok:
1. Add your Iris 2 license to your iLok account, and move to your iLok of choice (we won’t get into that here, but follow this link if you need these steps).
2. Install the most up-to-date version of the plug-in (follow this link to get the latest downloads).
3. Install the most up-to-date version of iLok License Manager.
That’s correct, your computer needs the latest version of iLok License Manager installed for iLok to work. And before you say anything, it may affect some plug-ins differently than others, so even if you have other products working fine with iLok, do yourself a favor and download the latest version here.
And one last thing, make sure you have administrative privileges on your computer!