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Review: NEUTRON Mixing Plugin by iZotope

iZotope Neutron Review

iZotope doesn’t really need an introduction at this point, but their new channel strip mixing plugin NEUTRON does.

They do it like this:

“Introducing Neutron: A smarter way to mix. Achieve unprecedented focus and clarity in your mixes with Neutron. This new mixing plug-in combines the latest innovations in analysis and metering with award-winning audio processing.”

I will show you what this new “magic box” is and why, while still being amazing, doesn’t make you lose your mixing jobs. I would even say, it might make your work easier.

iZotope Neutron

iZotope NEUTRON comes in two versions, Neutron and Neutron Advanced. The ‘Advanced’ version adds Surround Support for audio post professionals that need to enhance the audio for picture experience, as well as the option to run Neutron’s EQ, compressor, transient shaper and exciter modules as individual plug-ins.

Functionality

Let’s have a look at what NEUTRON actually does. Neutron listens to the tracks in your mix and can help you to make informed choices about the settings of EQ, Compressors, Exciter and Transient Shaper modules.

How? Basically, it creates a preset for you, based on what it detects on your tracks.

Now I can already see that NEUTRON will be a plugin you will either love or hate, but there are some misunderstandings I would like to clear up before they even happen.

The idea really is that Neutron will help you mix better and faster, but of course, it can’t replace a mixing engineer. It can, however, provide and aid where humans have natural setbacks.

Imagine mixing for 6 hours, your ears get tired and your attention exhausted. At this point, it might be helpful if Neutron points something out to you, that you may have overlooked otherwise.

Solving problems in audio is of course very complex and often depends on so many factors and personal taste choices, that it’s near impossible to come up with an algorithm for it.

But Neutron should really be seen as a tool for suggestions, and maybe it would even suggest something once in a while that you wouldn’t have thought of.

Track Assistant

iZotope Neutron Mastering Plugin

So this is one of the two BIG features that makes Neutron the talk of the hour. Why?

Because Neutron can actually listen to a track and then advise you which bands of EQ to move to make a difference to the sound, how to set the compressor, or what to dial in the exciter, it’s magic!

It’s also stated as an industry first, which you know always get lots of attention, in this case, deserved if you ask me.

“But isn’t this cheating?” Only in the same way that driving a car is cheating when you can walk, or a washing machine is cheating when you could be washing your clothes by hand.

This is another moment when technology is giving us a helping hand. Especially since, other than cars or washing machines, it doesn’t actually do the job for you.

I’ve put it to the test mixing a track for a client. The suggestions were mostly good, but I still needed to tweak and correct here and there.

Only I know what my sound is, or what the client wants, and that is why there will always be a person needed.

Masking

iZotope Neutron Mixing Plugin

Another first, and the second of the two BIG features, is Neutron’s “Masking Meter”, which allows you to visually identify and fix perceptual frequency collisions between instruments — guitars masking lead vocals, for example, or bass covering up drums — and other issues that can cause a ‘muddy’ or overly crowded mix.

The hidden wonder here is, that two instances of Neutron on two separate tracks actual communicate with each other.

Potentially critical areas get displayed in pink bars above the EQ, as well as in a transparent white overlay on the EQ, which Izotope call’s the “Northern lights”.

Neutron’s makers claim their technology lets you “easily tweak each track to carve away muddiness and reveal new sonic possibilities.”

NEUTRON can be used on every track, offering zero-latency, CPU-efficient performance. Other modules include static/dynamic EQ, two multiband compressors, a multiband transient shaper, a multiband exciter, and a true peak limiter.

Conclusion

Izotope says: “Our best processing yet “…and I have to agree with them. I will let everyone decide for them self if Neutron is a useful tool to them, but I would definitely recommend you check the demo out, this is certainly impressive.

I know some of you are going to love Neutron, some are going to hate it – but all I want to say is don’t hate it until you have at least tried it. It definitely get’s 5/5 from me, and iZotope has always made solid extremely usable plugins.

Therefore I think, while Neutron leaves a very good first impression, it is unlikely we will be disappointed in long term either.

More Details / Buy: NEUTRON

About Author

Merlin Györy – also known as “Cloudjumper” is a Composer, Sound Designer, and public speaker working primarily in the video game and movie industry for over 6 years. He is also head of the game audio project MM4VG. Reach out to him here: cloudjumperaudio.com