iZotope Neutron – Review

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Recently iZotope released new versions of Ozone and Neutron. Each version comes as a Standard and a Advanced Edition. We had the chance to take a closer look at Neutron 2 Standard and primarily focused on the new features and improvements. But first things first...

What is Neutron?

Neutron is a plug-in for mixing purposes. It contains several modules like a gate, equalizer, compressor etc. to shape the sound of individual tracks or busses. Neutron can be best described as a very advanced channel strip with some special tweaks like the track assistant.
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One of the top features of Neutron 2 Standard is the implementation of a smart algorithm that is aimed to assist and help a producer to create better mixes. Neutron 2 Standard comes bundled as the two plug-ins Visual Mixer and Neutron 2 in several formats like VST2, VST3, AAX, RTAS and AU.

The Visual Mixer

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The Visual Mixer plug-in was designed to place the audio signals to a kind of a virtual stage. With the help of a 2D visualized stage the mixing engineer has control over the panorama the stereo width and the level. Every channel that has Neutron 2 loaded as an insert can send it's signal to the Visual Mixer, which is usually inserted in the master bus. From there it is possible to sum and visually mix all individual channels together. This is a very interesting and clever approach and opens up a totally new way of mixing. In the Visual Mixer there are 3 buttons to save the mixing setup and switch between them. This is super helpful to create different mixes and to compare them against each other.

Advanced Channel Strip

But now lets focus on the main plug-in Neutron. Within the Neutron 2 plug-in there are the 6 main modules equalizer, gate, exciter, transient shaper and two different compressors as well as a brick wall limiter in the output section.
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These full packed feature set alone is quite impressing, but there is much more under the hood. For example, all the different mixing modules can be reordered and moved to a different position in the Neutron 2 signal path. This can become very handy as is sometimes does make sense to compress before doing the transient shaping or the equalization. The equalizer section can be run in static or dynamic mode. The exciter, the transient shaper, the 2 compressors and the new gate can run as multi-band versions with up to 3 bands. Every band can be handled totally independent and in the exciter section different exciter and saturation modes can be selected individually for each band.

Do the mix for me

The famous Track Assistant got an update and some improvements. With new machine learning algorithms Neutron 2 can for example detect a piano instrument. With a simple click on the Track Assistant the incoming audio signal gets analyzed and based on some parameters Neutron 2 makes a suggestion and adjusts the compressors, the equalizer, the transient shaper and the exciter. These settings are great for fast mixing purposes or can help to detect mixing issues faster.
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Especially for beginners this option can be a great starting point. The suggested adjustments of the Track Assistant will be audible after the analysis is done but the settings will not applied until the appropriate button is pressed. It is important to understand that Track Assistant will not immediately make everything sound better. It can be seen as a guide and act as a starting point.

The new gate module

Beside threshold, ratio, attack, hold, and release the new gate module offers a hysteresis control that helps to avoid the typical flattering of the gate signal. A relatively rare seen feature. Combined with the fact that it can run in multi band mode there are no open wishes and the gate module is a great addition and very powerful.

Output and master section

As already mentioned does the output or master section contain a brick wall limiter. A new addition is a pan and a width fader that allows smooth transitions from mono to stereo up to widened stereo images, as well as a button for phase inversion, a stereo/mono switch and switch to swap the left and right channel.

Conclusion

All in all Neutron 2 is feature packed and will satisfy even very sophisticated mixing professionals. The only thing missing so far was the option to enable mid/side processing. I guess this feature is reserved for Ozone, the mastering plug-in from iZotope.
The modules in Neutron 2 designed very well. The sound is top notch. I did not like the exciter section that much but that is probably more of a personal preference. The Track Assistant is interesting and can be a good starting point but we should not expect miracles. A skilled mixing engineer will mostly remove most settings that where applied by the Track Assistant and tweak the plug-in by own preference. For beginners the Track Assistant can be quite helpful and a good starting point.

A bit underrated and my personal highlight is, apart from the outstanding feature set, the Visual Mixer which enables a new way of mixing. My personal feeling is that Neutron 2 does really hit the benchmark if it will be installed as the advanced version together with Ozone 8 Advanced. There are some remarkable and unique features available that can revolutionize the way of mixing and mastering.

Neutron 2 Standard is directly available for USD 249$ currently USD 199$ at: iZotope

iZotope Neutron - Review
  • Overall Sound Quality
  • Features
  • Stability
  • Workflow
  • Pricing

Summary

Neutron 2 is feature packed and will satisfy even very sophisticated mixing professionals. The modules in Neutron 2 designed very well. The sound is top notch.

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