iZotope - Neutron - Sound On Sound Magazine
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
"First and foremost, what appeals to me about Neutron as a package is the sheer sound-sculpting power of its core processing. Whenever I felt dissatisfied with the fundamental character of a track while mixing with this plug-in, a quick surf through the preset library immediately presented me with a bunch of radically different timbral possibilities to play with, and I was usually able to find something more subjectively engaging pretty swiftly — a process helped enormously by those all-pervasive wet/dry mix controls. Moreover, the flexibility with which Neutron allows you to snipe fiendishly complex mixing gremlins is commendable.
Frankly, none of Neutron’s higher-concept functions would be worth a brass farthing if the core audio processing was ropey, so I’m delighted to report that it doesn’t disappoint — no surprise given iZotope’s existing track record. There’s enough sonic firepower to radically transform the personality of sounds you don’t like, enough precision to target mix minutiae with confidence, and enough musical sensibility to deliver results that appeal on both a subjective and technical level.
Metering facilities are generous, with level, spectrum and gain-change displays in abundance, and some useful ways you can adapt what they show and how they show it. But the usefulness of the whole system is expanded even further because all the modules, and every frequency band within the Compressor and Exciter, have separate wet/dry mix sliders. At a stroke, this makes it child’s play to adjust the relative ‘severity’ of your different processing blocks, as well as breathing new life into the preset library, allowing over-egged ‘demo fodder’ settings to quickly be brought within bounds of real-world applicability and taste. Furthermore, Neutron manages all this within a pretty reasonable CPU footprint, so you should be able to use it pretty much however often your mix needs.
Beyond the fundamental quality and power of the audio processing, Neutron also scores extremely well in terms of how its modules can interact at mixdown — most notably, of course, via the headline-grabbing Masking Meter. Click the Masking button in any mixer channel’s Neutron Equalizer module, select any other Neutron plug-in instance from the adjacent drop-down menu, and you’ll suddenly see two different frequency-specific visual representations of how much the current channel is being masked by the menu-selected one.
If masking from your piano part is leaving the lead vocal seem a bit buried, but you’re not sure where to EQ, it only takes a quick waggle of the lead vocal channel’s Sensitivity slider to reveal a couple of the most likely frequency ranges. You’ll still have to evaluate these suggestions by ear while EQ’ing, but you’ll usually get where you want to be more directly. Furthermore, I think the ear-training value of the Masking Meter shouldn’t be underestimated either."