What is Master Assistant?
Master Assistant is an intelligent assistant in Ozone 8 that helps you achieve a starting point for mastering your music. Not only does Master Assistant provide you with a way to get going, it can also educate you on some of the decisions that are made at the beginning of the process.
The steps engineers go through to ensure that music is prepared to distribute to the world is often described as a “dark art” that requires years and years of experience to execute. Ozone 8’s Master Assistant aims to demystify some of the aspects of mastering like achieving loudness without compromising the fidelity of your music, or balancing your entire track so that the low end is punchy and controlled.
Unlike auto-mastering services, Master Assistant shows you the changes it’s made to your audio and even informs you about the steps it goes through to make those changes. Once finished, you can see the parameters and educate yourself by dissecting each module’s settings or bypassing each module to hear the differences.
What does Master Assistant do?
Master Assistant starts by presenting a simple question: “What are you going for?”
This question affects settings in the Maximizer (Ozone’s Limiter) specifically. Mastering engineers usually start each project by setting up their limiter first. This helps them understand what processing needs to be done to the track to frame it for the delivery format. Master Assistant does the same thing with three different choices:
Streaming prepares your music for an average loudness for streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music.
CD sets your music up for CD mastering. This gives you the a few different intensity options that dictate how often the Limiter reacts to your audio.
If you have a reference track loaded into Ozone 8’s brand new Track Referencing feature, you can select that from the Master Assistant panel. Master Assistant will learn the EQ curve of your reference track as well as your reference track’s loudness. Pick any track you like as long as it’s one of the following supported file formats: Wav, aif/aiff, mp3, AAC, FLAC.
After you select your target destination and start playing audio, Master Assistant will inform you of the steps it’s taking to set up your track for mastering.
Equalization is set first by suggesting some initial moves based on your music’s style or applying the EQ curve that it has learned from a reference track you provided. Once that’s done, Master Assistant analyzes the dynamic range (crest factor) of your music and implements the Dynamics module to frame your low end. If the dynamic range of your music is not problematic, then it bypasses the Dynamics module altogether. Thirdly, the Maximizer’s ceiling and threshold are set to hit the Streaming, CD, or Reference target you selected when you started Master Assistant. Lastly, dynamic EQ nodes are placed in areas of the frequency spectrum that have the potential to cause distortion when your audio meets the Maximizer.
Note that when it comes to using Master Assistant, you want to make sure it is listening to the most energetic part of your track. Given the current limitations of existing as a plug-in within a host, Ozone can only perceive the audio passing through it at any given time. Master Assistant can’t listen to your entire track of audio—it would take way too long and keep you from getting through your creative process swiftly.