Mastering Showdown with Izotope, Lurssen Mastering and NewFangled Audio

Get ready to rumble! You are going to see three software audio mastering suites face off in an epic cage fight. Izotope, Lurssen Mastering, and Newfangled Audio go head to head!

Please note: The purpose of this showdown is not to determine if software is as good, better, or worse than a dedicated mastering engineer.

In one corner of the cage we have the reigning champion, Izotope. Izotope’s Ozone has been king of this hill for over a decade with its incredible dynamics and artificial intelligence. While AI helps get you to a great starting point with the mix, it doesn’t leave it there. You have full control over the entire mastering process. This includes signal routing, and the ability to add additional third party plugins.

In the next corner we have long time mastering legends, Lurssen Mastering with their new Lurssen Mastering Console. This mastering suite from Lurssen Mastering and IK Multimedia took an analog approach to the user interface while applying real world knowledge to signal processing. Lurssen Mastering is a mastering studio located in Burbank California.

In the final corner of this match we have the latest challenger, NewFangled Audio with their Elevate Mastering Bundle. Elevate claims to be tuned to the human ear. Like Izotope, they use AI to achieve the best result as it processes your music. This is a 4 plugin bundle that includes Elevate, EQuivocate, Saturate, and Punctuate.

Round One: Ease of Use

Disclaimer: I have been using Izotope’s Ozone for about a decade. This means I am personally more comfortable with Ozone and will naturally find it easy to use. Regardless of this, let’s see who comes out on top.

Ozone 9 – Ease of Use

I opened Ozone 9’s stand alone mastering tool. Next I dragged and dropped Glyptic Minority’s un-mastered track Quarantine in it. After running the Master Assistant, I was left with 3 modules – an EQ, Dynamic EQ, and Maximizer.

With very little effort I was able to create a master quicker than you can upload to Landr. The added benefit was the ability to tweak the EQ in a direction I wanted before rendering. I found this overall process extremely easy. In addition, you could take this much further by adding modules to do more advanced things. Out of all the mastering suites, Ozone offers the most control and features.

Lurssen Mastering Console – Ease of Use

Being brand new to the Lurssen Mastering Console, I was happy to see it had a stand alone mode like Ozone. Unlike Ozone, I was presented with a very hands-on approach to the controls. There was no futuristic user interface to decode, just knobs.

I was able to drag and drop a track onto the mastering console. From there I tried a couple of different presets ranging from EDM to metal. I quickly realized that the controls you saw on the screen were designed to do everything in a symbiotic manner. The console doesn’t appear to let you reorder the signal chain or have access to all the controls. Instead it seemed to do all the magic under the hood. In the end I used a metal preset and pulled down the 60Hz and 120Hz bands down about 8db. That was pretty much it.

Elevate – Ease of Use

Elevate only operates as an audio plugin. So my journey began with loading up the track in Studio One. I added Elevate to the master bus and started playing around with several presets. This was a new tool to me, and I was a little bit disoriented when it loaded up.

At first had no idea what I was doing. Regardless of how it sounded, I was left a little bewildered by the UI. As a result I spent some time playing with the filter bank, limiter/EQ, transient designer and clipper. In spite of being unfamiliar with the interface, creating a master was still fairly quick and easy. With some time, I could see this being an incredible sound shaping tool.

Round One: Ease of Use – Ranked

Our top position for ease of use goes to Lurssen Mastering Console. If you are a home studio engineer, this will quickly deliver a great master for yourself or others. You don’t need to worry about what’s happening under the hood. You’ll get that “glue” and loudness you need without a complex UI.

  1. Lurssen Mastering Console
  2. Izotope Ozone 9
  3. NewFangled Audio Elevate

Round Two: Depth of Mastering Capabilities and Controls

Ozone 9 – Capabilities and Controls

Ozone comes in three different flavors – Elements, Standard, and Advanced. Each flavor adds additional tools. However, even Elements contains a full set of mastering modules that can be re-arranged in any manner you choose. Ozone Elements includes the following modules: Master Assistant, Maximizer, Imager, and Equalizer.

If you fly deeper into the Ozone, you gain access to so much more. Get access to additional features such as: Stand alone app, Matching EQ, Master Rebalance, Low End Focus, and so much more. Low End Focus is particularly great at creating low end harmonics that sweeten the mix extremely well.

Ozone’s Matching EQ will allow you to capture the EQ of a reference track and match it. Once you’ve captured the reference track EQ, you can dial in just how tight of a match you want. I find this particularly helpful when dealing with a genre I don’t normally work with.

Lurssen Mastering Console – Capabilities and Controls

The Lurssen Mastering Console really focuses on making your mastering process as simple as possible. You are locked in to their signal chain. It’s a chain they created and is time tested. While this may feel restricting, it was designed this way intentionally to give you their setup from Burbank California. This approach is a great philosophy, especially if you are mastering and not repairing music that was poorly mixed.

I found one unique feature in the Lurssen Mastering Console and even Ozone is lacking it. This essential feature is automation support inside the stand alone application. Being able to push the signal harder or softer during a song is possibly its best feature and enough to get some people to switch.

Additionally, you have the option of picking up their iOS apps. With these apps, you can listen to your masters from anywhere. Better than that, you can also edit your masters while you listen. Then go back to your PC or Mac to finish the job!

Elevate – Capabilities and Controls

Much like the previously mentioned tool, Elevate locks you into a signal chain. These modules include the filter bank, limiter/EQ, transient, and clipper. The main parameters set some general levels going into each module. Diving deeper into each of these 4 modules gives you full control over each one. Since Elevate is not a stand alone application, you could easily put anything you want before or after it in the signal chain.

The depth of controls inside each module is easily editable. Each module uses the entire frequency spectrum. This turns Elevate into an incredible sound shaping tool. It also opens the door to using this plugin on individual tracks or a buss. I would personally use this on a drum bus. The clipper is also a great addition and can really add some flavor to the master.

Round Two: Capabilities and Controls – Ranked

The obvious winner here is Ozone. When you dive into each of their modules, you are presented with never-ending options and controls. Dynamic EQ, Vintage Modules, and Low End Focus are great examples of premium features that help Ozone stand out above all others.

  1. Izotope Ozone 9
  2. NewFangled Audio elevate
  3. Lurssen Mastering Console

Round Three: Overall Value

Audio software prices are something to watch over time. Some companies have sales every day while others run them only periodically. I’ll cover prices here and what you should expect to pay. However, value and price point don’t always equate to the same thing.

Ozone 9 – Overall Value

Ozone goes on sale frequently – and I mean, almost all the time. Never pay full price for Ozone. Ozone Elements is the least expensive of all three mastering suites we tested. Ozone Advanced is the most expensive, at 2 to 3 times the cost of the others. However, you get an incredible set of mastering tools with it – far beyond what any of the competition has.

Sale target price: $29 (Elements), $149 (Standard), $299 (Advanced)

Lurssen Mastering Console – Overall Value

Lurssen Mastering Console may be limited, but it provides an incredible value for the money. You get world class mastering software from a trusted real world mastering studio. This means all of their knowledge and years of experience were integrated into it. That alone makes this tool worth considering, even if it is a bit of a magic box.

Sale target price: $59

Elevate – Overall Value

Elevate is relatively new to most people, but they are quickly making an impact. Elevate is a single plugin with three main components. NewFangled Audio split them up into three independent plugins for you. This means you could use any piece of it independently. This is worth considering when looking at the overall value. Elevate goes on sale at most once a quarter and I have never seen it for less than $99.

Sale target price: $99

Round Three: Overall Value – Ranked

Our pick for best overall value goes to Ozone 9 – any edition. Their sale price points are hard to beat. When Ozone Elements goes on sale, it is by far the best value. If choosing between an online mastering service and Ozone Elements, I would pick Ozone Elements. After the Master Assistant runs, you have the ability change the master as much as you need. With an online mastering service, you are extremely limited.

  1. Izotope Ozone 9
  2. Lurssen Mastering Console
  3. NewFangled Audio Elevate

All of these tools created a quick master with ease, and at a great value. It’s impossible to say which one is best for you and your workflow. However, each mastering suite has a free trial. So give them each a spin before you commit.

Round Four: Comparing All Three Mastering Suites on the Same Track

First, a warning. Each of these tools took a very different approach to mastering. They will never deliver the exact same result. However, they can come close.

Round Four: Comparing All Three Mastering Suites on the Same Track – Ranked

I am going to let you determine the winner here. Which on of these three masters sounds the best to you? Let us know in the comments on SoundCloud!

In Summary

My overall impression of each of the mastering suites was very positive. I would be happy to master a track with any one of them. While I normally use Ozone Advanced for most of my mastering work, I am extremely intrigued by the Lurssen Mastering Console. The ease of use and stand alone application with automation support makes it a strong contender. Even without Ozone’s advanced features, it proved to be a solid choice. I’m very tempted to starting using it more myself.

The most incredible part of this is that everyone now has access to world class mastering tools at very reasonable prices. You even have access to a wealth of knowledge to learn how to create a mastered recording. There are no excuses.

Now go make music!