Izotope – Neutron Advanced

Key Features

  • Track Assisant
  • Masking
  • Inverse Link EQ
  • Spectral Shaping Neutrino

Street price is $199.00 for Neutron,  and $299.00 for Neutron Advanced

www.izotope.com

Once in a while a new plug-in comes along that starts a buzz in the industry. Neutron Advanced from Izotope is doing just that, with a very unique set of features I’ve never seen before. It’s a great new time-saving mixing toolbox for young guns and pros alike.

Out of the Box

Neutron could be described as a very advanced intelligent channel strip. The technology that Izotope has incorporated is really genius. The large GUI is elegantly laid out and user friendly. There are two versions of this plug-in, Neutron and Neutron Advanced. They’re the same, except that the Advanced version modules can be split up into separate plug-ins, and has Surround support. Both versions come as a download, and at 200 MB, a quick one. Installing requires an emailed authorization code, and their server is fast.

Diving In

I want to start with four very unique features in Neutron: Track Assistant, Masking, Inverse Link EQ and the Spectral Shaping Neutrino.

One of the most talked about features is Track Assistant. It listens to and analyzes the audio and then makes suggestions on stuff like EQ, Compression, and even Exciter. In other words, it creates a custom preset. You tell it how subtle, medium, or aggressive you want it to approach your track. You let it know the vibe you are going for: Broadband Clarity, Warm and Open, or an Upfront Midrange sound. I tried it on different types of tracks, and have to say its algorithms are pretty spot on. What I like is how you can easily follow its lead as a starting place and decide from there. For the up and coming mixer, you can’t find a better learning tool. There’s also a nice undo function so you can get back to OZ if you need to. Neutron is not billed as a mastering plug-in, but I like to see what it thinks and A/B it with my normal Master Buss chain. Again, depending on how you set the preferences, it’s surprisingly intuitive. Neutron also comes with presets, but I prefer making my own.

Masking is another innovative EQ tool to let you compare the EQ of any two tracks with Neutron. It uses an advanced algorithm so you visually see where they are competing with each other in the sound field. I’m pumped about this feature. Many of us especially struggle with Low End on Kick and Bass. You can see how to fix the EQ curves, often called “Notching”, to make your bottom end amazing. Also, above the EQ window in this mode, is the Masking Histogram. It looks like little meters that tell you specifically where the trouble spots are. This is really fun!

To fix these masking issues easily Izotope came up with the lovely Inverse Link EQ. I have never seen this before. When you pull up two tracks in Masking mode and begin making EQ moves on one track, the opposite happens on the other. Pretty great!

Finally, Neutrino is a cool yet subtle Spectral Shaping tool that adds polish. There are five Shaping choices: Vocals/Dialogue, Guitar/Related Instruments, Bass, Drums/Percussive, or None. You can also get a copy free of Neutrino on the Izotope site.

Going Deeper

There are nine total modules in the strip’s signal chain. The first five of them can be put in any order and have individual sliders to determine the Mix of the effect vs. direct signal. The Equalizer has a generous 12 adjustable bands. There’s a nice assortment of vintage and modern EQ types. Each one has an optional Dynamic mode with a Side Chain input. This is a beautiful feature in itself, making the EQ a true multiband Compressor and perfect for De-Essing and EDM stuff. I also like how the Q function works with a Magic Mouse.

The two Compressor Modules are identical three band tools and run in series, allowing both Pre and Post EQ compression. They have two modes, Modern and Vintage, with real time Spectral Imaging to show what they’re doing visually. This helps to set your crossover points and side chains. You can Solo, Bypass, and set Ratios for each band, making it a very useful compressor. The Exciter has three separate bands for adding Harmonic Distortion precisely where you need it most. Each band has a small X/Y pad to create a perfect blend of four harmonic profiles: Tape, Tube, Retro, and Warm.

Neutron’s powerful new Transient Shaper has three Global modes: Precise, Balanced, and Loose. Within the three movable bands you can have custom Attack, Sustain, and Contour parameters.  Each band also has a solo mode. Next in line is Neutrino, the spectral shaper I touched on earlier. At the end of the signal path is an intelligent True Peak Limiter. Several algorithms are included, similar to Ozone, RX, and a Hard Brick Wall limiter. With minimal options, it’s easy to use, and get’s the job done nicely.

Conclusions

The hardest thing about this review is trying to condense so much cool info. After spending time with Neutron Advanced, I’m a huge fan. It’s a deep plug-in suite. Most of us have challenges with Low End in our mixes. Neutron addresses this and a lot of other stuff in revolutionary ways. Anyone can benefit from this plug-in. It’s simple enough for the aspiring musician, yet cleverly advanced for a Professional. The biggest buzz has been with producers and engineers. Is it a must have? My vote is yes. You can download a free 10-day trial. Let me know what you think!

Neutron is supported on Windows 7-10, also OSX 10.9-12.  It comes in the following formats and bit rates: VST & AU, 32/64, AAX 64, RTAS 32, and Audio Suite DPM.  It’s compatible with the following DAWs: Logic Pro X, Ableton Live 9, Pro Tools 10-12, Cubage Pro 8, REAPER 5, FL Studio 12, Studio One 3, and Nuendo 7.

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