New Mastering Limiter & Exciter / Imager Alternatives?

Hey guys,

As of recent testing within Danny’s Test Kitchen, it seems that Eventide Audio’s Elevate and Fabfilter Pro L2 have been strong options for our Maximizer / Limiter and in most occasions thus far, been beating out our previous favorite: Ozone 7’s Maximizer on IRCIV.

With that being said, I’m sure many students may have missed out on picking up Ozone 7 and in return, don’t have the Exciter and Imager as well as the Maximizer. Or, a handful of students might dislike Ozone 8’s Maximizer. Me being one of them.

For our course and new students arriving, should we look towards an alternative? A new plugin for the imager and exciter outside of Ozone and go with Fabfilter L2 and or Elevate as our Limiter? Given the fact Ozone is quite expensive and Ozone 8’s Maximizer isn’t to our particular taste.

Thanks guys, hopefully we can survey the field and through testing, find the best possible solution.

  • Jamie
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speak for yourself brother, Izotope Maximizer is to my taste. I actually find it sounds pretty phenomenal and just so crisp and clear. I haven’t demo’d the Pro L2 yet but I hope it sounds better than the Pro-L. either way we all have our tastes so to each his own. cheers : )

Absolutely true, in the end it’s all about personal preferences, finding your taste, and creative approach. Because I wasn’t a fan, doesn’t mean everyone won’t be a fan as well.

With submitting this forum post, I had two goals in mind.

Number 1: To post the results and thoughts of our A/B testing through different limiters VIA the Friday Test Kitchen. It seemed that Elevate and FabFilter L2 were the popular favorites. For those who share these same thoughts, is it still worth buying into Ozone 8? Is it worth buying Ozone 8 just for the Imager and Exciter? All questions and thoughts I would love to hear input from.

Number 2, if a student decides to omit Ozone 8 entirely, because they are personal favorites of a different limiter, what sort of alternatives are in store for a harmonic exciter and a Stereo Imager? Do these “alternatives” come close to the same sonic quality of Ozone’s Exciter and Imager?

Perhaps I should have been more clear with my aspirations and goal set in mind when posting. Nonetheless,
I’m happy to hear that you are thoroughly enjoying iZotopes Maximizer (Not sure if you are using 7 or 8). Perhaps, with more testing I will grow to like it, just requires more time haha.

Cheers to you as well, and thanks for the response and honest feedback!

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On my side, I was pretty amazed by the results I got on the 2bus with Elevate compared to the competitors (Ozone, Fabfilter, Oxford, IK Multimedia…). The downside, it’s super CPU hungry, and it’s a problem because I like to have the limiter on from the beginning to the end of my mix.

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Personally for me, I was intrigued by the band process within the Limiter (The “Filter Bank Sub Module Page”) . The fact that you can solo bands at specific frequencies, seems to be a serious game changer. Gives us the ability to specifically hear what the limiter is doing throughout the whole frequency spectrum and edit accordingly.

One of the downsides that I will have to add, is the fact that it has a serious learning curve. You can jump into Elevate like it’s Fabfilter Pro L2, set the attack / release and squeeze down and get your desired result. But in my opinion to get the best possible result, following the signal flow from beginning to end is highly recommended.

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Agreed… Elevate is amazing, but CPU hungry as all hell… Hopefully they optimize the code as it develops…

I usually export my mix, then master separately… Using Pro-L as a placeholder’s never been an issue for me, be it Ozone, Elevate, or any other limiter…

Yeah I’m equally happy with Ozone 7/8’s limiter. I just can’t stand what they’ve done to Ozone as whole. Turning it into a Neutron-esque ‘magic bullet’ (that’s hardly magical at all) leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Izotope’s right across the bridge from me too. I’ve known a few people that coded there, and for a long time it was kind of a hometown pride thing for me… After Ozone 8 I’ve lost that loving feeling. :musical_note:

Not to say that 8’s fidelity isn’t fantastic, but making Ozone a plugin competitor to LANDR is the kiss of death for me. I’ve lost a lot of respect for them personally… I’m terrified to see if they strip the soul out of RX. If they do Izotope’s permenently barred from my Christmas list.

@TheSheep has found that loving feeling for Elevate. More cpu on his Christmas list for this year then!

@Elton @justinc @Jamie @FrancisBourre Hi Guys,

I agree that Elevate is a wee bit CPU hungry, but then I always found Ozone 7 (plus other iZotope plugs) to be just as CPU thirsty. I agree with Justin, do your mixing and mastering separately. When you master you use some substantial mastering plugins in your chain and it will hit the CPU hard.

I’m now getting to grips with Elevate, it is being used to do all the heavy lifting and I’m very impressed with it. Try not to freak out about the learning curve as I can assure you, you’ll not be sorry. CPU side, if you’re not using some of the features on Elevate (eg during mixing) turn off some of the bits you don’t need. If you’re just using it as a flat limiter (again mixing) then reduce the number of bands to around 16 or less. You will find that helps too. If I can help, please give me a shout and good luck :slight_smile:

I was going to post the exact same question because I’m in a similar boat.

I dont have ozone 7, and the indications are that izotope is a little all over the place right now.

I’m buying an OCTO satellite later this week and somehow the SPL Vitalizer came on my radar.

I’ve been watching videos and reading reviews and this seems to be a UAD answer to both the imager and exciter in one.

Anyone have thoughts/experiences with the vitalizer specifically? @Elton @justinc @Jamie

I like the vitalizer but it depends on what else you have/need in your arsenal. I have oZone 7 but agree on the all over the place. That said, the maximizer and imager are very good.

Graduates Club has @Danny’s Advanced UAD course included. May be worth checking some of those videos out. He goes through a lot of their plugins and because they are lesson type videos, its not the usual sales stuff and a bit more real!

Hi @SmoothSailing,

I’ve used vitaliser a lot, it’s great for widening but it’s not what I would say good for specific widening like Ozone 7’s imager is, it’s all or nothing. It also colours the sound so the more you push it the more harmonics it adds so it will excite but not to the level of the Ozone 7 exciter. I’d recommend it for your tool kit but I don’t think you’d use it all the time. Where it can really shine is in the mastering chain. Saying that it’s also a great tool for brightening up dull tracks and light widening (unless you’re sound designing). I’ve not tried Ozone 8’s imager/exciter yet, but I can imagine they’ll do the job just as well as 7. I’d trial them before throwing in the towel, try each of the products you’re interested in and find the one to your preference - Hope this helps a bit.


Thanks for getting back to me @TheSheep and @Elton.

I just noticed that ozone 8 is on splice rent to own. could get it for $10. kinda pains me to do it only because I’m ONLY interested in the imager and exciter… but $10 a month cashflow wise is not a big deal. I think I’m gonna just bite the bullet and scoop 8 right now. Again, input is much appreciated.

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I think this rent to own model is awesome. I want Slate to do the same now too.

@Elton that would be perfect!

@SmoothSailing You’re more than welcome!

Hey @SmoothSailing sorry I didn’t catch this until now… Did the Splice thing work out for you?
Since you’re coming to Ozone with fresh eyes curious what you think of 8…

Also have been hoping Slate would do the same thing. Xfer’s the only other developer that I know that does this. Seems like a huge hole in the market… Any way hope you get on with Ozone 8! Just don’t let it give you advice :wink:


Any thoughts on bx_XLV2? I think it’s pretty fantastic.

Ozone I havent gotten super in depth yet, just the exciter and the imager. I’ve just gotten myself on to UAD so I’ve been pretty pre-occupied with that and also upgraded my fab limiter to pro-L2. Now that I’m on rent to own I’m sure I’ll find various situations where I prefer ozone to UAD.

The maximizer’s pretty great too. The exciter, imager Maximizer and multiband dynamics are the modules I use regualrly… I will say that despite the things they’ve done to 8 that bother me, I do like that they added the ability to have different exciter flavors on each band… That’s a nice feature for sure…
How are you liking Ozone’s exciter and imager so far?

Nice, UAD is awesome but they’ve always been weak in the multiband and brickwall limiting department. (Not a fan of the Precisions series…) Pro-L2’s great as well. Been loving ‘Aggressive’ as a drum buss limiter. It’s pretty nice on the master as well, not quite as transparent as Ozone and Elevate though.

Haven’t demoed it yet. Tried XL a few years back, it was kind of soft but looks like they made some pretty big changes with v2… Have you been using it Chris, and what are your thoughts if so?