How to Use Neutron 2 and Ozone 8 Together with Tonal Balance Control

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Tonal Balance Control Broad Mode in Neutron 2

With recent advances in technology, musicians have more access today than ever before to the tools that are needed to make professional-sounding music. DAWs have given us the ability to break the constraints we once had in the analog format. We can record music easily, create sounds with virtual instruments, mix with analog-style plug-ins, master with incredibly transparent audio, and even deliver audio files all from a single recording program. We have the freedom to jump between creating, recording, mixing, and mastering by closing a session and reopening another in minutes—many times within the comforts of our home studios.

Yet with all of the benefits that a home studio brings, it also often introduces the challenge of working in a non-ideal listening environment. There are some methods home studio users have adopted to mitigate mixing and mastering in non-ideal environments. Spectrum meters help visually validate what your ears are hearing. Speaker emulation programs help make your headphones behave like studio speakers. Track referencing has become a go-to solution for A/Bing your music against other material to help with the aforementioned monitoring issues in home studios. All these methods are here to help get your music to a place where it is comparable to professionally mixed tracks. And there’s something that many professional mixed tracks have in common—good tonal balance.

As the home studio becomes more prominent and people are mixing and mastering their music in the same environment, iZotope is excited to introduce Tonal Balance Control, the latest innovation available in Ozone 8 Advanced and Neutron 2 Advanced. It’s designed to adapt to this context-switching workflow between mixing and mastering and seamlessly allow you to switch from Ozone 8 to Neutron 2 without losing focus.

Tonal Balance Control Visualizes Tonal Balance

Tonal Balance Control is intended to help you visually and sonically interpret your music to address areas where it could benefit from a balance adjustment, or confirm that your music is tonally balanced. It also helps you successfully swap from a mastering workflow to a mixing workflow using iZotope's inter-plugin communication technology between Ozone 8 and Neutron 2.

What Are Target Curves?

A target curve is a visualization of a song’s spectral qualities from the low end all the way to the high end. We visualize the upper and lower energy bounds of a track along the frequency axis. Think of the target curves as guides for your music. We analyzed thousands of songs to generate three stock target curves: Modern, Orchestral, and Bass Heavy.

Tonal Balance Control gives you the ability to create custom target curves as well. You can do this by importing a single track or importing a whole folder of tracks. If you wanted to, you could import a whole music library into Tonal Balance Control through the Target Options menu. Tonal Balance Control will generate a single composite target curve from all of your the tracks in the folder. Once you have picked a target curve, it will make up most of the main interface and show you how your music aligns within the ranges.

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How to use Tonal Balance Control in Mixing and Mastering

Given that Tonal Balance Control is designed to be the last plug-in in your session, any master bus processing that you would use to get your music to a mastered state should be placed upstream in the signal flow of your session. This ensures that all audio in your session flows through Tonal Balance Control right before hitting your monitors. Here’s an example of where to place it:

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If you’re using Neutron at the track level to mix, and Ozone at the master bus level to master, you can access both EQs from each product from the lower panel region of Tonal Balance Control. From there, you can access any Ozone Advanced EQ or Neutron Advanced EQ remotely.

When you pull up Tonal Balance Control, you’ll immediately notice your music divided into four separate regions under the “Broad” view. This will help you visually validate what your ears are telling you. For example, you might notice that the low-mids are too forward, or that the high end is too bright.

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You can hold Option (Mac) or Alt (PC) and click in the Tonal Balance Control spectrum to bandpass your music

Then you can audition any part of the spectrum by clicking and holding the [Alt] modifier on your keyboard and clicking any part of the spectrum. This allows you to focus on that specific frequency range and gives you insight on which instruments or frequency ranges are contributing to your tonal balance.

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If you’ve assimilated that bass and kick instruments are contributing to an ineffective low end, then you can access the instances of Neutron 2 that you have on those tracks and manipulate them remotely from Tonal Balance Control. Make adjustments, listen, and use Tonal Balance Control for guidance.

Mix Tap

What if you aren’t using Neutron or Ozone on all your tracks? How will that be represented in Tonal Balance Control? The good news is that we created a lightweight channel ops plug-in called Mix Tap, which can be added to any track. This automatically routes that track to Tonal Balance Control (and Visual Mixer and Masking Meter). While you won’t be able to control any of the plug-ins on that track, you’ll still enjoy the benefits of seeing the visual analysis in the Tonal Balance Control plug-in.

If you have evaluated that your overall low end needs to be addressed, you can access your Ozone EQ at the master bus level and make adjustments remotely from the Tonal Balance Control.

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Using Broad and Fine Views in Tonal Balance Control

You’ll notice along the top of Tonal Balance Control that there are two views called Broad and Fine. The Broad view shows your music and the target curves in four parts: Low, Low-Mid, High-Mid, and High. The Fine view shows the spectrum in a normalized continuous spectrum, which is more detailed. Both show how the audio passing through the plug-in compares to the target curves. We advise that you use both views together—first getting an initial gut-check look at your mix with the Broad view, and then switching to the Fine view for deeper information.

Broad View

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Fine View

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Most importantly, evaluate the changes you’re making to ensure that your music's sounding good to you. Tonal Balance Control is only visualizing your music, you’re the one who is listening to it!

How to Use Tonal Balance Control in a Mixing Context

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As said before, think of the Tonal Balance Control as the last plug-in in your mix and the final “gut-check” for your overall balance. Neutron is the first plug-in in your signal flow at the track level, and Tonal Balance Control exists as the last plug-in. Your entire mix streams through it.

Repeat the same workflow as above—open Tonal Balance Control, evaluate, use the [Alt] modifier to focus on areas, select an instance of Neutron, and make adjustments. The Neutron instance will populate in Tonal Balance Control’s lower plug-in area and give you access to every parameter in Neutron’s award-winning EQ, even the Dynamic mode. From there you can flip through any tracks in your session that are contributing to areas in your music that you need to address.

How to Use Tonal Balance Control in a Mastering Context

The same workflow can be applied in a two-track mastering workflow. The difference here is that you do not have access to the source material. Within the two-track mastering context, place Tonal Balance Control at the end of your Mastering chain and use it to evaluate the overall tonal balance of your music.

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Once you have identified an area of interest in your music, select the upstream Ozone EQ that’s in your Mastering chain and make the adjustments you feel benefit your music.

Go Forth and Be Creative

Mixing and Mastering are changing. iZotope is here to give you the tools you need to navigate each part of your creative process so that you can learn and improve your craft and achieve better results. We hope you enjoy!

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