It just does not matter if you are recording, mixing, mastering, or performing live sound for bands and or DJ’s with a digital system, IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is incredible. I want to share how I use this amazing powerful platform of tools, and offer you a fun challenge…
Please know there are two versions of IZotope Ozone 7 available. IZotope has found a way that allows folks to experience the “Ozone platform” for much less money, by offering an “Essentials” version of Ozone 7. If you are new to mixing and mastering this seems like a great idea to me, with the option to upgrade as you grow. This demo/review post is for the new IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. Please use the link provided to learn more about the two versions.
When it comes to mixing and mastering plugins, there is one name that continues with creative innovation as well as continuing a top quality. I was turned onto Ozone from other pro mix and mastering engineers, and for many reasons. The included value of a “all in one” style plugin is a serious value for any engineer. The creative uses that come with such a powerful tool remain countless. The quality of the included components, like EQ’s and compressors, inside of IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced, are top notch, and they are so easy to work with and configure. Getting great sounding music has never been so easy or simple thanks to IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced.
IZotope Ozone has gone through some cosmetic changes with the passing time, and it becomes better and easier to use with each new design. One thing that has remained constant is Ozone 7’s amazing usefulness and incredible sound quality. There are countless good reasons as to why IZotope Ozone has been one of the most raved about plugins for mix and mastering engineers the world over. It is amazing, and IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is the new standard!
IZotope has found a way that allows folks to experience the Ozone platform for much less, by offering an “Essentials” version of Ozone. If you are new to mixing and mastering this seems like a great idea to me, with the option to upgrade as you grow. Please use the link provided to learn more about the two versions.
In a nutshell, IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is a series of mixing and mastering tools all bundled in a cleverly designed platform. You can open up any of the modules (EQ, Vintage Compressor, Vintage Tape, Multi band Compression, Vintage Limiter , Maximizer) within the platform, move them around in order, bypass/solo anything, use Mid/Side processing, and even ad in Dithering, all of course with many versions of each process, and of course to professional standards.
The “GUI”, or graphic user interface, of IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is laid out in such a way that it is so easy to use, and let me tell you why. The metering! Not only do you have displays for everything that is changing with elaborate metering but you have actual digits displayed too. This combines to remove all doubt about what it is you are doing. There is a spectrum readout with the EQs, stereo field scopes, multi band frequency reads for all of the tools that alter frequency, dynamic range information for compressors and limiters, and this list just goes on and on. This is amazing stuff people!
IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is powerful and incredible, and I have been a fan and a user for years and years. I was filled with joy on the first day I opened up Ozone. I was amazed by the features at first, and overwhelmed by the endless choices at first, but that soon gave way to better and better mixes and masters.Years and countless mixes and masters later I continue to rave about the raw potential and the overwhelming power that was Ozone 5. You can only imagine the joy I felt when I downloaded and first opened up IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. This tool is a home run!
Let me just say, right here and now, that I feel mixing and mastering is an art form. Like any art form, the artist must devote massive amounts of time to practice, learning, and of course making mistakes. As we learn our craft, we collect techniques, we learn to better use the tools available, and we find ways to improve the tracks that we create or that we are given. It is all about spending the required time to fully learn what the tools are capable of, how to harness that power, and learn the necessary techniques that we employ using these tools in order to accomplish our goals. Like any art form or trade, the better in quality and the more precise the tools are, the better the artists or tradesman results will be. IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is a whole set of professional, powerful, and precise tools, all in one easy to use platform.
First, the “main section” of IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced has many useful features that all mix and master engineers use all the time. You can “apply” IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced in series (100 percent wet) or in parallel (any amount of not wet), or in any place in between. In a world that has a spoken rule of “less is more” this feature helps take your mixes over the top. Add to the list of features “Mid/Side capabilities” and now your head explodes. But before you start cleaning brain matter off of your monitor, lets toss in the ability to place your whole mix into “mono” at the click of a button. This stuff is standard for IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced but rare in other plugin brands.
The list of powerful and incredible features just goes on and on. For example, when it comes to “soloing” frequency bands so that you can better hear, that is only a click away. You can bypass IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced as a whole, or you can bypass each module you open up (EQ, multi band compressor, tape saturation, etc.), which allows you to get extremely precise with your mixing.
Let me tell you that one trick that has taken my mixing and mastering to new heights is learning how to dissect and examine reference tracks. IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is the simply the best tool I have found for taking apart and looking closely at reference tracks. With IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced I can actually hear and see (with the selection of included scopes) what is in mono and what is in stereo, I can solo any region of the frequency spectrum for a better and up close dissection, I can “solo EQ” anything I choose, and let me stop rambling by telling you I can even EQ match any reference I choose.
EQ Matching is a feature that even many of todays top mixing and mastering engineers take full advantage of. You can take an EQ curve from any source music and then apply that curve to your music, just to judge how far or how close you are to the reference source. This is powerful.
I of course use IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced when mixing and/or mastering, and let me tell you that I use it all over the place, on all sorts of tracks. As I typed this part of the review out a question popped into my head. The question is “Could I totally mix and then master out a complete albums worth of multi track sessions using only IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced“? Let me give you some honesty here, and tell you seriously that I wholeheartedly believe that I could totally mix and then master an entire album using only IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. I do however have certain plugins that I love to use for certain tasks, as we all do, but I know I could do without them if forced to. The album might sound different, but it would sound great.
Let me go on here and give you some examples of the issues I can quickly and easily solve just by opening up IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced when mixing and mastering multi track sessions of original music…
What else can I say about compression that has not already been said? I compress just about everything. I find new and exciting ways to accomplish tasks, to employ compression, with each new piece of music I work on. I have learned how to increase attack, increases sustain, add beef to a track with parallel compression, compress a whole mix with bus compression, and the list just goes on and on. The point here is that I can quickly and easily accomplish all of these chores with the compressor found inside IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced . Boom, done!
But that is not the end of it. I also love being able to “see” with my eyes, what is actually happening inside the compressor. IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced “GUI” or graphic user interface is laid out in such a way that it is easy to use, and it displays everything that is changing. You get elaborate metering and actual digits too. This combines to remove all doubt about what it is you are doing. Powerful indeed!
I can quickly and easily put any frequency range in mono or in “exaggerated stereo field”, with IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced, which is priceless to me. Just to give you some examples of why we might want to do this sort of thing… Bass frequencies need to be in mono in most situations.
When mixing, I put my bass guitar in mono with the stereo image section of IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. Often times I use “L.C.R.” panning which means the stereo image of the drum overheads need to be widened or narrowed down to match. I can place a frequency range in solo and choose only exactly the cymbals and then get to work making my alterations.
Continuing on with the stereo image… When mastering a song or album, I place all of the low end, up to around 100 to 200 hertz in mono, and in about one second worth of precious time. I use reference tracks to “gage” where to stop the mono/stereo divide”, and IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is the boss for examining reference tracks. There is not another plugin I even think about for performing these sorts of duties, as IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is effortless and easy on the processing power.
Multi band Compressor..
Here is a tool that has taken my mixes and masters over the top. It has taken me a lot of trial and error to figure out how to best use Multi band compression, but it has paid off in a big way. I use “MBC” when mastering mostly, or on a mix bus, but I have used it on certain tracks too. Like I mentioned in the video above, if you are reaching for an EQ to place across the entire mix bus, try \multi band compression instead. It is simply incredible at “evening out” unruly frequency ranges. Loud cymbal? Try MBC. Powerful bass? Try MBC. You get it, right?
First I like a powerful low end. So, I will place the MBC from IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced across a bass bus and remove some of the dynamics, which adds sustain. . This allows the bass to be present yet not disappear after the transient. I also replace the gain (make up gain) that I compressed away. This one trick is fast, simple, and effortless to perform with IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced and it really helps the whole mix to “better gel together”.
I use MBC found in IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced to tame out of control cymbals too. I have actually used the “solo frequency function” in the IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced MBC to first locate and then tame an out of control snare hit! How is that for precise? Look, once you wrap your mind around multi band compression and the endless things you can do with it, you might find yourself not needing less and less EQ’s on the master bus. The possibilities are endless here, and I suggest that if you are not using MBC, then you get into using MBC sooner than later.
The EQ section is worth the asking price all by itself. Fully parametric is only the beginning. The features are almost endless, here, in the EQ department, but let me discuss some of my favorites. The user can select analogue or digital EQ types, with mid/side capabilities, which is incredible all by itself. Of course all of the usual filter types are represented (notch, high pass, low pass) and everything is easy to adjust and extremely well laid out. I love how you can dive in as deep as you want to go, or you can choose to keep it fairly simple, too, if you decide.
I limit a lot of things. I like all of my tracks to be heard. I very much dislike a track that “pokes through a mix” and then disappears, unless it is supposed to of course. Limiters are handy for this task, and so many more. Limiters are like insurance, too, as you can make sure a track will never ruin a mix just by setting a ceiling with a limiter.
I of course use limiting when mastering. We all do. It is how we set up and employ the limiting that gets all of the attention, right? I try to keep my mixes and masters within a certain dynamic range, depending on the style of music. For most mastering sessions and limiting with a limiter, “less is more”.
Trying to retaining some of a songs dynamics while taming down the dynamic range is the job of the day. Sometimes you don’t really limit all that much. Other times I lean into a limiter so much that I feel like I am breaking a law. The limiters found inside IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced will help you make great sounding music that fits inside your dynamic expectations. I actually just came up with that last “dynamic expectations” bit, but it’s not bad, eh? Whatever you think of my sayings, please know that IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced is a serious tool that has become my “go to plugin” for many tasks.
I use tape saturation all over the place. It is like a secret weapon for me. How? Whatever I place it across, kick drum, snare, vocals, guitars, etc., just sounds better. Having such a killer sounding tape machine emulation that does not hog my resources like so many of the others out there, is amazing and a deal maker in my book!
Let me remind you that the platform is incredible all by itself. I rave about the metering which is out of this world. We sometimes need to see with our eyes what is happening, and IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced gives you the truth in amazing detail. You can “see” the levels, dynamic range, frequency spectrum analyzer, stereo image, inputs/outputs, mid/side information, and on and on. Like I say to friends in the mixing and mastering community, “We mix with our ears, for sure, but we double check our work with our eyes”. Having access to some of todays best tools (EQ’s, Limiters, Multi band Compressors, Tape machine emulations, saturation, compressors, and so much more) inside this platform is powerful stuff.
If you make music, mix music, master music, or mix live music using a digital system or a DAW, then IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced should be in your tool box. Why? The list of solid and rational reasons is lengthy, but here are a few for you.
First, the raw power. The power and the potential of IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced speaks volumes. These are some of todays most powerful tools all in one easy to use platform.
Second, the end result. You can begin learning your craft by entering into the Ozone platform with the “Essentials” version. As you grow and become more confident you can always upgrade to IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced when the time is right. Your mixes and masters will grow with you.
Third, the value! I am going to wrap up this post by offering you a challenge. Please go online and make a list of all of the best EQ’s, compressors, limiters, saturation emulators, stereo imagers, frequency analyzers, stereo imagers, dithers, and all of the other tools and features found inside IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. Next, add the prices of all of these items. When that is done, compare your total to the price of IZotope Ozone 7 Advanced. You can now see the value here. It is a “no brainer”, especially when you realize how well everything works together inside the Ozone platform.
I got out of my home recording studio and got into live sound about three or four years ago. I have worked steady and gotten to a point that one of the services I now offer is “live multi track recording”. I also do the mixing and mastering, which leads me to todays’ post review/demo. If you record, mix, or master music, you should read this short post and watch this short video.
I do more and more live recordings. What I mean by this is that I record bands as they play out live. In a perfect world we would spend time tuning the drums, set up our best recording microphones around the kit, and spend hours making sure the parts of the drum kit were mic’d up to perfection.
That just does not happen. Usually there isn’t enough time for all of that. Most often the drums come out of a case from deep within someone’s van, not touched since the last gig. Were lucky if we finish setting everything up before we launch into a sound check. Recording considerations, like mic placement, come last in these situations. After all, we have a gig to play. Lets instead make sure everything is working and it all sounds acceptable. Everything else comes after, if there is enough time.
This means instead of nice recording microphones, we set up the cheap dynamic mics that are used in live sound. We set the mic stands where we can, and that becomes the spot. If they are not perfect for recordings sake, too bad. Instead of moving the microphones around until they are best placed, we move on to bigger issues.
This makes giving the band a great sounding “live recording” difficult. The drums always sound as if they were recorded by an amateur. Are you finding this same exact issue? I have a solution, and it is called Trigger 2.0 Platinum, and it is from (genius) Steven Slate, of Steven Slate Drums.
The blazing speed and ease at which you can easily perfect any multi track recorded drum tracks is astounding. You can blend in up to eight samples per track, which is mind blowing. You can pan, gate, tune, and blend each sample to taste. If you are responsible for recording live drums, recording drums, mixing todays’ music, or in the live sound field at all, you must at some point get Trigger 2.0 Platinum, its just that obvious. I am as speechless about the end result as my clients are, and they think it took me hours and hours to get the drums to sound so amazing.
Hi, my name is Kern Ramsdell, and I am an all around audio nut.
I live and breathe all things audio. I own a humble home recording studio, live sound system, and at any one time I am a live sound engineer for local bands and venues. Too be completely honest about live sound, I just cant get enough of it.
That said, the world of live sound is far from perfect.
I have learned the right way to do a million things but only after making a million mistakes. I just finished a live sound product titled, “Breaking into live sound production“, aimed at helping newbie live sound engineers, but if you would like more information about it simply click on the box below.
I believe that in order to be a better live sound engineer we should think in reverse whenever possible. Here is an example for you.
Stage volume is a constant battle with most bands. When a musician asks me to turn up (lets say) the vocals in their monitors, I don’t do it. Instead I think in reverse. I turn everything else that might be in their monitors down, making sure to not touch the vocals at all. Then, if need be, I turn up the volume level of the monitor.
So why go through all of this? The thing that usually happens is that you get sucked into a never ending cycle of turning things up, louder and louder. We should work hard to stay clear of these never ending volume cycles.
As we turn up one thing in a monitor everything else then seems quieter as a result. Next, you will be asked to bring up another instrument, followed by yet another. Once you turn one thing up everything else just seems too quiet. The volume knobs go up and down, so why not try turning everything else down. This way, they can hear what they want to, better than before. If it is too quiet after you turn down the loud channels, turn up the monitor slightly. They will not know that you did anything except what they asked for.
Believe it or not we apply thinking in reverse to things all the time. Ever apply “subtractive EQ”? I also use reverse thinking when something is too quiet in the mains. If the sound level is too low after my adjustment, I raise the whole mix ever so slightly. This helps keep a sonic-ally cleaner show with a much more constant volume level.
There is probably a much better way to do some of the things you are currently doing, weather it be routing certain effects, applying compressors, or running your live sound rig. Whatever it is that we could be doing better, we just have gotten used to doing things the way we are doing them.
Hey, why change if it works, right?
I have encountered systems that flat out had things hooked up in crazy ways. As these systems grow, the things that are done in order to accommodate for improper connections or techniques grow and grow. At some point these systems become impossible to operate. It just becomes too hard to work that hard.
There is a saying I like to quote that states “As the twig bends, so grows the tree”. This speaks to me. I take it to apply that if you make exceptions to common sense and hook things up wrong, or use gear in ways that the manufacturer never intended, while the system is small, imagine how crazy things will be when you grow into a massive rig.
Read manuals and get to understand the gear you come in contact with. Learn alternate ways of accomplishing like tasks. Learn how to do less with more.
We all get them and we get them all the time. Some nights I get more than one. People cant resist telling the sound person what they should do better. I used to think to myself, “Who are you to tell me what I should be doing?”. But not anymore.
I believe everyone has something to say. Hearing is dynamic. We all hear differently and we all have unique experiences and opinions. Ever walk around a venue as a band plays? Things will sound drastically different depending on where you stand. So what does this all mean?
I try to listen to what people tell me. I also look for common threads while listening to critiques. If we truly want to improve and get better at live sound production then we need to be open to critiques and learn from them.
Not only do I listen to critiques, I also try to help people express what they are trying to share with me. Not every person is into sound. They most often don’t know how to express what it is that they wish to say.
You just don’t work with the same level of interest that you used too. You feel as if the spark has gone. This is not the same thing as becoming lazy, but they are related to one another.
Let me give you a few examples of this if I may.
Maybe you don’t listen to different microphone placements anymore. Instead you just take what you get when placing microphones in front of amps, and “just go with that” straight into the mixing console. That really stinks for everyone because if you try a few placements you will probably find the best spot for the mic, providing a much better production.
Another example might be never taking a second look at your stereo compressor (in line with your mains) as you work show after show. Before you know it things sound flat. When you finally do look at your compressor settings you notice the ratio is set to “full on limiting”, or at about a 20:1 ratio. This is a reach, I know, but it happens. Knobs will get turned and settings will get moved.
Lastly, maybe you have grown tired of listening to new ideas. Bands mention new things to you, like their ideas, expecting your excitement, but instead you just roll your eyes. I see it all the time. Everyone feels it too. Its tough to remain excited about work, and believe it or not, this applies to live sound too.
You have sworn off new technologies and new live sound products. You maybe say things like this, “Hey, if the Beatles didn’t need it back then why do we need it now?”. Bye the way, that is the biggest load of garbage I have ever heard. The troubling thing is that I hear it, and things just like that all the time.
The truth is that the Beatles would have loved to have access to the gear of today. Back then people paid little attention to creating new products or technologies for music. Massive track count, multi track recording studios were decades away. Concerts, in the era of bands like that, were way under powered and problematic at best. The same goes for all aspects of the audio world, like studio work, songwriting, instrument manufacturing and design, and the list just goes on and on.
We live in an incredible moment in time. There are massive corporations staffed with thousands of people, all creating new products and technologies for the music industry! There are a lot of new gadgets out there, and I cant defend all of them, but I beg you to remain open to new ideas, new concepts, and new technologies.
Believe it or not, people once swore off computers as over complicated calculators. Can you imagine a world without them now?
If you are thinking about getting into live sound production either as a freelance live sound engineer or as the “dedicated sound person” for your own band or venue, and you are curious as to what you will need to know, please know you are not alone. I just finished a brand new product aimed at answering the most common questions that most new engineers have. I also teach the principals that you will need to know and understand, like impedance and how to combat feedback before it happens. Its called “Breaking into live sound production“, and its ready to help your next production be your best!
This is a detailed review and sound demo of the “Op-2 Comp pedal“, an exquisite piece of boutique, hand crafted in the USA, vacuum tube based technology from Lightning Boy Audio. Spoiler alert: It sounds incredible!
I feel that I should tell you right up front that I paid full price for this pedal, and it was not supplied in exchange for this review. I agreed that in order to keep this review as unbiased and as honest as possible, I should pay the full asking price.
I should also explain why I chose to purchase the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal“. It is not a very long story, but it will take just a moment to explain. My vintage compressor pedal that I have used for years and years began to break down and it was injecting loads of noise into my signal chain, finding its way onto my recordings. I needed to purchase a new compressor pedal, so I began my search. I once had (and adored) a very special Lightning Boy Audio overdrive pedal and so I decided to see what they were producing. I actually reached out to Lightning Boy Audio because I had read somewhere that they were about to release this new tube comp pedal. I got lucky. Mike was willing to make one just for me even though the pedals were not yet ready to ship out to dealers.
The actual unit I poses is an older version than the one you will receive. Only the box has since seen a revision.
The very first thing most people notice about the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” are that there are two tubes rising up and out of the unit. We have seen this before as a purchase helping “gimmick” in a lot of cheap pedals in the past. This is not one of those what-so-ever. The Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal“is an all analogue, tube driven, optical compressor. Lightning Boy Audio is the real deal when it comes to harnessing the full power of the atom, and let me add that the NOS 12 AU7 tubes that you see jetting out of the “Op-2 Comp pedal” are in fact part of the circuit, and they do add tube-like warmth tone to your signal chain.
How does it work and sound?
I find the dynamics of the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” to be right what I had hoped for, extremely musical, and right where I want them to be. The knee settings (hard or soft) both sound and feel very nice and very musical to me. The tones I get are representative of the guitar I use so I would use the tag line “transparent” to help explain the sound, yet it does impart some warm analogue tube goodness. I love the range of compression on tap, as well as the amount of volume (make up gain) that is available. Turn the comp dial all the way to the left and you will have a very small amount of compression, all the way to the right and you will get a limiting style compression. The pedal is fun to play through, as I love to hold those bends for dramatic feel and effect.
If you decide to purchase and employ a Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal“, you will need to turn the pedal on 30 seconds before you wish to use it in order to allow the tubes to warm up. The L.E.D. lighting found inside the pedal (easily viewed from a standing position) is there to help you understand when the pedal is ready for your dynamic squashing, tube enriching enjoyment. There could be some misunderstanding about the LED lighting, so I wanted to set the record straight. Also, the Lightning Boy Audio Op-2 Comp pedal runs off of 12 VDC @ 400ma.
Since I am setting the record straight, let me add that I will never let go of this Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal“. I am simply way to in love with the pedal to let that happen. The Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” was created with my personal favorite compressor (the very compressor I reach for when it comes to guitars and vocals) the now infamous LA-2A circuit. This explains the simple to use feature set of the pedal and the incredible tones one can easily get from the pedal. I love the simplicity of the auto attack and release of the LA-2A circuit. It is just a very musical compressor in my opinion.
I should say in this review that I have a “Revision A” model Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal“. That means the switch labeled “On/Off” is really a switch for a “Turbo” feature, and will be labeled as such in the future. It is miss-marked, which I fully knew in advance. That is the price I paid to get an early unit.
All versions of the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” are completely “True Bypass”, so it will not be a tone sucker when not in use. Two blue L.E.D.’s illuminate when the pedal is activated, as to avoid any confusion about weather it is working or not, just for those of us that are new to what dynamics might sound like or act like. OK, it can be tough to tell with a light compression, I will agree with you on that.
When it comes to its overall construction, this pedal is “over the top” well made. What I mean by that is that they are made to military grade specs, by hand, one at a time. I dig the fact that they added a pair of protective “roll bars” to better protect the “NOS” tubes jetting out of the unit. All of the knobs, switches, and components found inside are of the highest quality, just like all Lightning Boy Audio products of the past, and feel very nice to use. I can tell you that Lightning Boy Audio strives for the absolute highest quality in both tone and in build quality.
There is no worry at all about placing the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” on my gigging pedalboard for actual use and keeping. These are built tough and backed with a 5 year guarantee. Five years people! Although the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” is a boutique piece of pro audio gear worthy of taking good care of, it was built to be used. It simply sounds too good to “put it away” after each use.
The Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” that I have has two switches, two knobs, two tubes, and an on/off footswitch. The “Op-2 Comp pedal” is perhaps perfect for me, as a guitar player, as there is one knob for the compression. If I want more compression/sustain I turn the knob to the right. If I want less compression and more attack, I turn the knob to the left. Next to the “compression” knob is a “volume” knob. We all know what that does. I should say that dynamics will alter your output volume, so we all need a “make up gain”, or volume knob. Add to the well laid out and easy to understand controls a “Hard/soft knee” switch. This tells the compression how hard to add compression once you cross the threshold. The “Revision A” model “Op-2 Comp pedal” that I posses has another switch for activating the “Turbo”, which I believe will always be on. This adds a slightly thicker tube tone and a slight volume boost too. Add a single “Mono” in and “mono out” and we are off to the gig.
For most guitar players, we love to employ compression for a few good reasons. First, compression can help add sustain to our notes, letting us hold a note longer as we solo or play lead lines. Second, compression can even out our attack, or the very first part of each note and chord, so everything we play is at the same, even volume level. Third, compression can help our guitar or bass playing stand out in a dense mix.
The Lightning Boy Audio“Op-2 Comp pedal” imparts a warm, inviting tone that can be heard all the way from sparkly clean settings all the way up to overdriven settings. I like to place a compressor first in my signal chain. I like to give my effects and my amp as consistently an even signal as possible. This makes for a nice, evenly spread overdriven sound, and a warm thick clean sound. Of course this is all in my humble opinion. You might disagree with me on the placement of your compression, but that is another topic altogether.
I also use compression on just about everything I have ever recorded or mixed. I even use compression when I run shows as the “Live sound engineer”. So it just begs to reason that I try the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” on as many sources as I can, from live vocals to recorded kick and snare drums, just to see if I like what I hear. After all, this is not a plug in, or a digital emulation of a compressor, like I am used too operating when mixing, but a in fact it is a real analogue, tube driven optical compressor. This kind of experimentation can only be a fun, and one full of surprise and good fortune.
In use I find the dynamic reducing effects of the Lightning Boy Audio “Op-2 Comp pedal” to be right on the spot, extremely musical, and right where I want them to be. The pedal is fun to play through, too, which came as no real surprise. I have owned a Lightning Boy Audio Tube Overdrive pedal in the past which went to a good friend. That was a mistake on my part. I have “first refusal rights” when and if the pedal ever goes up for sale. I miss the amazing warm sound of that pedal and the build quality of that pedal were just as incredible. Lightning Boy Audio is all about quality construction, high grade components, and superior tones.
EQ is so super important in everything we audio folk do. We use EQ at each step of the process, or when performing, producing sound, recording, mixing, and of course, when mastering. When it comes to mastering “EQ” is the tool at the top of the list of most important tools.
Mastering is crazy though, because as always, we must keep in mind things like, “less is more”, and “everything we do is most often too much”. The idea is to use reference material and then open up tools that will force our material (or our music) to sound like the reference material (music). This may sound easy enough, but it is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. People can spend a lifetime trying to figure out mastering and how to even begin doing this all important step. Thank goodness I know someone that is very good at mastering. He actually does mastering as a profession, and he loves to teach it. His name? Ian Shepherd.
Let me add that although inside “Home Mastering EQ“, Ian recommends his favorite EQ plugins, EQ’s that Ian loves to use himself, you do not need to purchase any EQ’s in order to get an incredible amount out of “Home Mastering EQ“. This course is more about learning the critical musical frequencies on an EQ, applying EQ to these frequencies in much more practical ways, and making stereo files sound much better using EQ at the mastering stage.
I should also point out that “Home Mastering EQ” is not your run of the mill “beginners EQ course”. Ian begins with the assumption that the viewer should already know the parts that make up an EQ, and they should have a good understanding of how EQ’s work on a basic level.
If my math is right, then “Home Mastering EQ” will run you about 67 British Pounds, or roughly about 86.00 US Dollars, at the time of this review. Ian Shepherd also offers an amazing 60 day, 100 percent cash back guarantee if you are not completely happy with the “Home Mastering EQ” course. That means you can feel safe that you are in the right hands.
I would also like to point out that at the end of this review I offer you two bonus courses, free of charge, if you decide to go ahead and purchase “Home Mastering EQ“, using any of the links in this review. You can’t loose!
OK then, on with the review for “Home Mastering EQ“:
Video 1, “Introduction“
Ian Shepherd begins the “Home Mastering EQ” course by explaining some great mastering techniques. These are techniques that not only does Ian himself do, but he highly recommends that we do the same. He explains how to find and employ reference tracks, how to properly monitor when mastering, and lots of great useful “mastering advice”. Ian also goes deep in this video, and closes with some more choice topics like which spectrum analyzers he uses, which ones he recommends, and how he actually sets them up and uses them as he works.
Ian speaks clear and has a very easy to digest flow about him. He speaks with an authority that one only gets from spending a career in mastering. I could listen to Ian speak all day, and especially when the interest level is kept so high by all of the pro level tips and techniques that continue to come from the videos that make up “Home Mastering EQ“.
Video 2, “Bass“
Ian gets right down to work by explaining eight critical EQ frequencies that he routinely finds himself wrestling with, how they sound when you boost or cut, using six different reference mixes as examples as he does so. These, he explains, will be great reference points to use as we master. We begin with the bass side of music, and Ian is about to demonstrate a few EQ cuts and boosts at three of the most commonly selected low end frequencies.
Learning what these frequencies sound like boosted and cut, and what usually lives in the range, actually is a great exercise. Actually listening as Ian shows the changes on a spectral imager really brings home the points he is trying to make. Ian continues to give solid advice as he goes through each example. This is where the gold is in my opinion. We are getting our monies worth watching the course material, but all of these nuggets of mastering wisdom that can only come from years and years of working as a pro mastering engineer, really bring value on top of value.
This one video of the “Home Mastering EQ” course is almost an hour in length guys. That means Ian is packing each frequency example that he gives with lots and lots of extra mastering advice and pointing out all kinds of subtle details about all sorts of EQ matters. It is very informative and I am learning a lot here. Let me add that I have been through a few great mastering courses before, and I have been working on my personal mastering for years and years now. Yet with each reference song that Ian opens up, and applies choice EQ boosts and cuts, I am hearing new things. This is of course all thanks to Ian patiently pointing these intricate details out to me. There is a lot to learn here with this cool exercise, sure, but Ians breakdowns of what he is hearing can be very illuminating as well. Hearing what boosts and cuts can actually do to a stereo track in terms of energy, impact, and brining out certain parts of the instrumentation is very alarming. Ian Shepherd is really teaching a lot about both mastering and EQ.
Let me add that Ian explains a cool trick that will certainly help me to get my low end (low frequencies) of a song in order. After Ian explains this idea about boosting where there is little to no frequency energy at all, and why we might want to do this, he opens up another EQ curve and demonstrates a very cool way to better control bottom end. I had never though about this idea, but now I have this cool technique in my tool shed. I have seen other mix engineers do this type of thing but they have never explained the ideas behind it before. Ian Shepherd fully explains it, and I now can replicate this cool EQ technique. This just goes to show that Ian continues to deliver and all of us can learn a lot just by listening and watching along with “Home Mastering EQ“.
Video 3, “Mids“
In the next 57 minutes of mastering EQ video inside the “Home Mastering EQ” course, video 3, “Mids”, Ian begins video 3 with some EQ theory, which is some more gold piled in, and how this EQ theory works when applied to the mids. Ian continues on through the EQ spectrum making his selected boosts and cuts to the same six reference tracks, pointing out some incredibly detailed tips and techniques as he moves along.
The learning takes place when Ian describes what he hears, what he notices about each boost and cut. He details very particular details about such things as bass, vocals, snare drums, just for a few examples. Then, when Ian goes back and applies the boosts and cuts for a second time you can really pick up on what he is trying to teach us. It is a great way of teaching and let me tell you it is working. Mastering is all about learning to hear what a move does in positive and in negative, or “give and take”. Ian is pointing this stuff out with each boost and cut, so the viewer is really getting a crucial understanding of what mastering with an EQ is really about with these exercises.
Let me point out that I wish I had someone go through these sorts of exercises before because it would have been extremely helpful and it would have helped me a lot. Inside “Home Mastering EQ” Ian is taking the needed time to share what he hears and what is really happening in these frequency ranges, like where excitement lives, where hollow, ringing tones might be hiding waiting to ruin your mix. This is great stuff for sure. I was pleasantly surprised time after time, EQ curve after EQ curve, reference track after reference track.
Video 4, “Top“
The low frequencies are where most people think the money is. This means the better the low end is in a master, the better the mastering engineer is. I have heard this debated, sometimes its the top end that gets all the attention. Either way, I have learned in “Home Mastering EQ” that mastering is about learning all the frequencies, and how they interact with each other in a stereo file. Each slight cut and/or boost has lots of consequences.
Ian continues on discussing what he has learned from a career in mastering (again, this is the gold nuggets of wisdom) and then he backs it up with example after example. He keeps sharing extremely helpful and pro level tips and techniques, with each new example. We are discussing the high frequency ranges now, but the lessons and techniques keep coming. I wish I new about “Home Mastering EQ” years and years ago as it would have taken out many countless hours of guess work and trial and error.
Ian Shepherd, inside “Home Mastering EQ“, is doing exactly what most folks can only dream about. Imagine sitting with a pro mastering engineer as they slowly, methodically, spend hours going through the frequency bands of an EQ, explaining what each band does, what is contained in each band, and how to treat these bands of the EQ when mastering. Ian is sharing cool tips, fantastic ideas, things to look out for, things to listen for, and so many amazing and cool mastering EQ techniques. This is the good stuff. I am learning so much, and I am enjoying every minute of it too.
Video 5, “Techniques“
The final hour of “Home Mastering EQ” video is pro level EQ techniques. When it comes to applying EQ to a mastering session, we have all asked, “Where do I even start?”, and this is where Ian starts his video. Ian gives solid and wish advice as he explains how he begins his mastering jobs. Be warned that we are only talking about EQ and volume matching after we make EQ moves. In other words were not mastering an tracks, just doing some EQ exercises for sakes of teaching. But get ready for some very detailed examples, using volume matching to keep things consistent and even some metering and metering watching help.
For just one example of what you can expect here, Ian plays an example piece of music. He then details what he hears, making sure to point things out on frequency meters and decibel meters. He then gives a couple of fixes that might work, again, explaining them in rich detail. Then with viewer in tow Ian completes these fixes so we can then compare and contrast them. This is the EQ course that I have been looking for and I am blown away with the level of understanding I am gaining.
Ian continues to sculpt stereo tracks, EQ mastering job after EQ mastering job. Keep in mind this is real world kind of teaching as not everything he does works the first time. Mastering is a game of give and take, and Ian Shepherd is only human. It is great to watch Ian add some here, take away some there, turn up the volume here, reduce the volume there, as he works along. He continually thinks out loud as he works along, so that the viewer knows exactly what he is trying to accomplish with each move. This is the part of “Home Mastering EQ” where all of the prior techniques, all of the things Ian has pointed out thus far, all come together and really pay off.
Look, applying EQ when mastering can be overwhelming for the beginner. Heck, I have been mastering for years now and I still get overwhelmed from time to time. I have been searching for a course that could help me overcome the issues that I face, and “Home Mastering EQ” is exactly what I have been looking for, but without knowing it.
What I mean to say is that “Home Mastering EQ” is that boost in mastering confidence that most of us are seeking. EQ is so important, but confusing and powerful to boot. In a world where less is more, and everything we do has both positive and negative consequences, what are we supposed to do? I can all too easily feel that burning in my stomach as the confusion and the stress take their place. Mastering is not supposed to be so stressful nor so awful an experience.
This might sound funny to you, but I guess I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. When it comes to mastering training we probably just don’t know what we are looking for, or where to even look for it. Well I am happy to share what I have found out. “Home Mastering EQ” is a great place to start. It is also a great place to continue learning if you have been mastering for some time now, but know you could use some confidence. I was happy to learn that a lot of the techniques that I use are correct. I was even more happy to learn hours and hours of new and exciting tips, tricks, and techniques that only a real pro mastering engineer could teach.
OK, hold on. Since you are reading through this review that tells me that you are looking to improve your mixing and mastering skills, so let me “sweeten the pot” a tad. Let me toss in one great big special bonus offer, just for you.
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“The Pro Mixers Playbook“
Learning how to mix like the pros can be the most rewarding thing we ever do. It can also be the most frustrating thing we ever do. Why does learning how to mix have to be so difficult?
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Ah yes, the sound person. This is such an important role, yet one that is often times looked at as if it is only an after thought of the band. After all, who is there to check out the sound person? We all know the truth as audio folk, the better the sound person really is, the better the band will perform and sound. This is fact.
It really is up to the sound person to make sure the band gets what they need in order to play their very best, and it is up to the sound person to make sure the band sounds their very best to the crowd. This might sound easy, but there is a lot involved.
Let me quickly tell you who I am and why I feel knowledgeable enough to type this article.
I started out my live sound journey gigging in a small band as a rhythm guitar player. I quickly got into recording, which took me into the world of mixing and mastering. I learned about getting things right at the source, which then got me interested in live sound again. Long story short, I began working at a small venue as the resident sound person. Before I knew it I was running sound for a handful of small acoustic type acts. I got bit by the sound bug, and craved bigger and bigger productions. I am currently running the sound, full time, for two rock bands. The bands couldn’t be more different, so I get something new and exciting each time I go to work. I absolutely love being a sound person. If you ask me, it is simply addicting.
I should also tell you that at some point along the way I reached out for some help. I wanted to learn everything I could about being the sound person. I mean, am I doing the same things as every other sound person in the world? I also craved to learn a few tricks from industry veterans, you know things like what is really happening in the frequencies and what its like to run sound in different places, so I checked out a few resources. The one resource that I really enjoyed and learned from was the “Live Sound Survival Guide” from Bjorgvin over at Audio Issues. I highly recommend that you invest in the single most important part of your system, yourself. Pick up some training and then put that to good work for you.
Here are 5 Things you must own as the sound person …
1) The smaller the gig the more you will be responsible for.
This is just how the universe works. You would think that the less money that is involved the less work we actually do. That is the farthest from the truth.
For example, smaller gigs will require you to provide all of the gear, then its up to you to hook it all up, and then you will “run front of house” and the “monitor mix” all night. After the small gig is over you get to wrap cables and haul off the gear too. The greater the gig, in size, the less you will be responsible for. For the large gigs you will start at the bottom and work your way up. You will most likely be tasked with rigging up gear and wrapping up cable for the first part of your career. Greater attention is needed for things like monitoring mixing and FOH mixing, so greater and greater experience levels are required when big money is on the line. Those jobs are coveted so forget about jumping right in as the “FOH” mixer.
2) There are several loops of audio going on at the same exact time, with each fueling the other.
Each instrument has an amp that is feeding into microphones which all head into the console. In turn the output signals get amplified and exit the mains. Add to this simple equation a portion of mic’d up signals get routed through the monitors, and this adds to the noise. Turning one part of the system up up turns up the chaos in the others.
Microphones pick up all of this sound (its known as “mic bleed”) and send it to the amps, which then sends it back to the console again, creating what we call a “loop”. This loop is what in turn creates the awful feedback that we all fight with. It is known as a feedback loop, and you better understand it if you even want a chance of preventing it from happening in the first place.
Learn the mantra, “less is more”. This is perhaps the quote of the post. It is so deep, and so powerful that I will stop typing about it now and let you think about it.
Less volume will only help you figure out what is really going on. Less frequencies coming out of the monitors will only help reduce audio bleeding into through the vocalists microphone, causing run away feedback as it does so. The less frequencies that come out of the mains will only help to open up the whole spectrum and provide more punch for the crowd. Less is more people, apply that everywhere.
3) You will need to fully learn how to apply EQ at every part of the system.
Learning the frequencies, how they work in a live environment, and how to cut unwanted frequencies from the parts of the system is a must. Knowing which frequencies to cut, and where you need to put those EQ cuts into action is paramount. Cutting unwanted frequencies out of the signal path is just what we do as audio engineers, but it goes further than that for live sound. Look, each venue is different. Each space will have different resonant frequencies. Each room will behave differently, and that will change as the room fills up with people. Certain frequency bands will get feedback loops going and they will churn out of control if left to feed on themselves. You must be handy with subtractive EQ practices. (link to my video)
I have learned a few tricks along the way, but these tricks have become necessity the more and more professional in nature the gig is. These tricks are things like learning how and where to cut the low end out of monitors. This is a is a wise idea because the band does not need them in the monitors anyway. Finding the resonant frequencies of a room is also a cool trick to learn, but quickly becomes a must. You will need to cut those bands out with an EQ, in a few places, if you want a good sounding show.
First the monitors need feedback prone frequency bands reduced, or maybe cut out completely, or feedback will be rampant. Cutting these EQ bands back a little, in the Mains, will also remove the “mud” from the overall sound. Just to show you how important EQ really is each night, I have listed the things I do each night, in order of time and importance, as I get a gig up and running and it looks like this…
1) set up gear
2) get channels routed and working
3) EQ mud out of each channel
4) Route monitor sends and set monitor send levels
5) EQ out low end mud and resonant frequencies from monitors
6) Set channel levels in mains
7) Slightly EQ resonant frequencies from mains
As show unfolds:
1) Ride volume levels song to song for vocals and solos
2) Fine tune master EQ, and master compressor (for FOH) if possible
4) Knowing your gear inside out is paramount.
I have learned that knowing your gear, and what it is and what it is not capable of, has been one of the most important things I could ever have learned. For example, I can set my mixing board up in a number of ways, to accommodate a number of gigs. I can leave the effects behind, or I can route them in a number of ways. I can use stage volume to my advantage, if needed, or I can mic everything up to go through the console if needed. I can have instruments like guitars and bass “go direct” or play at full amp volume, or any combination of the two. I can route effects through board inserts or directly through the units, or in anyway the band needs. I can run a show in mono or stereo, with a sub out or in full range. The list just goes on and on.
Here is the bottom line. Going into a new gig is scary. There is a lot of responsibility on the sound persons shoulders. Bands look to the sound guy for almost everything. Knowing what you are capable of, knowing what you can do with the gear you have, will help calm your nerves and the bands nerves too. Having this level of responsibility is not for the faint of heart. I happen to thrive under this level of pressure, and I consider it one of my strengths. I mean it when I tell a band “I have your back tonight”.
5) Be approachable, remain humble, and be open to critiques.
It seems to never fail. Someone from the crowd makes their way over to me. They all seem to pause just so and then they do it. They give me their feedback. At first I felt like “who the heck are you to tell me what you hear?”, but since have changed my mind completely. Please, get over it. People will come up to you and give you some unsolicited feedback about the show. It is going to happen. They are helping you.
People all hear differently. This means we all hear frequencies differently. We also hear things differently depending on where we are standing. That is why I walk around the space as the band plays. I can get a sense of the room, or what the room is actually doing to my audio. Then I make my way back to the console to make any necessary changes. It is amazing what you can hear from one lap around a club.
Look, these people believe they have some important information to share with me. They believe that they are helping me in some way. You bet I want to listen to what they have to say. Each person that has ever come up to me at a show has had a valid point, weather I knew it at the time or not.
But be ready to read between the lines. Strangers at a show don’t always know how to explain what they hear. They don’t always have the right adjectives they need in order to describe what they hear. We are the people that do sound every weekend and we have learned all of the sayings that go along with it. Help them to get their point out. I also do a couple of things for these folks. I like to try and ask them two questions about what they bring up. For example, if they tell me they cant hear the vocals very well, I might ask them if they sound too bass heavy. Then I will follow up with “what would you suggest I do in order to correct it?”. The point of this is to acknowledge their input and to let them know I take them seriously. I suppose asking them a couple of questions might seem silly, but it might help to make them feel as if they helped to contribute to the evenings overall sound.
Then, after I have listened and possible made some changes to the audio, I will look for that person and ask them how it sounds after I have made those changes. This lets them know that their input was valid. This lets them know that the band is there to perform for them. I have had people thank me for this attention to detail, and tell me that they really appreciate it. They usually tell me how impressed they are that I actually took what they were saying seriously, and then the fact that I made changes according to what they told me made them feel important.
Its funny how ego can make us act. When I got started running live sound I was horrified. The stress can cripple the weak at heart. The very notion that someone from the crowd actually had the nerve to approach me just to critique what I was doing made me upset. I mean, who are they to tell me anything? Well, times change. Now that I am a bit more comfortable with the whole live sound thing, I see this phenomenon differently. People just want to help. People will let you know what they think. Its going to happen to you anyway, you might as well turn it into something positive, right?
Lastly, take it from me that a little help goes a long way. I enjoyed the “Live Sound Survival Guide” from Bjorgvin over at Audio Issues, and I took a lot of killer insight away from it. There was a lot of great information about running live sound packed inside the eBook that comes with the “Live Sound Survival Guide“, as well as the whole guide on the frequency spectrum that is inside. Honest and sincere help is hard to find in the real world, so try to take advantage of it when you can find it. Check out the “Live Sound Survival Guide” from Bjorgvin over at Audio Issues.