Analog versus digital mastering—it’s a debate that’s as old as, well, as old as digital mastering solutions have existed. Some audio engineers swear by analog gear; others have stepped fully inside the box.
To be sure, great results can be had with either (or a mixture) of both approaches. But today we’re highlighting one detailed perspective on using solely Ozone 8.
We recently spoke with Terra Naomi, a classically-trained, LA-based indie singer-songwriter, and her engineer about using Ozone on her new EP. They were kind enough to take a deep dive into the process. If you want an in-depth look at how to master a record with Ozone 8, read on!
Terra Naomi on finding the right mastering solution
“I recently recorded a new album at Wilco’s studio in Chicago with their producer Tom Schick after crowdfunding $50,000 on Indiegogo. It was a costly project, and I wanted the mastering to reflect the quality of the recording. In the past I've handed over my mixes to several top-tier mastering engineers and I assumed this project would need to also be sent to analog studios with big name mastering engineers, and that's what I did for a few tracks from the album.
“When my engineer friend Michael Greer O’Shea heard an unreleased master of a track, he asked if, just for fun, he could give it a shot in his digital mastering studio. A few days later, I received a Dropbox link to an A/B test of one of my songs. There were three tracks in the folder (one of the masters was a duplicate to make guessing harder) and it was my job to determine which was the analog master and which was Michael's digital master.
“I listened first on my headphones, fully expecting the results from digital mastering to be obviously lower quality than the results that I'd had done in an analog studio. All three tracks sounded good to me—warm, round, dynamic. I couldn't believe it, but I wasn't hearing a difference. So I went out to the driveway and listened in my car. Still couldn't hear a difference. Came back inside and listened on my studio monitors. I went back and forth for about 45 minutes, focusing on individual drum hits, syllables, bass notes. Two of the three masters seemed to have a little more bass extension to my ear, which I liked, but it was so slight I couldn't tell whether the difference was real or imaginary.
“I was shocked. M.G. O'Shea had done the master using only iZotope's Ozone 8 plug-in and I barely heard a difference compared to the one done in a high-end analog studio. I asked Michael to master the "Nothing To Hide Remixes" EP, and needless to say, I no longer assume mastering has to be analog to be high quality!”