Neutron's Processors: iZotope's Best DSP Yet

Tips & Tutorials  |  October 4, 2016

Neutron features some of iZotope's best digital signal processing to date. Watch the tutorial below or read on to learn more about new processors like the Equalizer, Compressor, Transient Shaper, Exciter, and True Peak Limiter. 

Inside Neutron are five of iZotope’s most powerful audio processors:

  • a flexible EQ with 12 independent static or dynamic nodes and the new Masking Meter

  • a powerful multiband compressor with both classic analog and transparent modern modes

  • a multiband exciter for adding warmth and saturation

  • a totally redesigned multiband transient shaper with three new response modes and three envelope contour shapes

  • at the end of the signal chain is an ultra transparent true-peak limiter built on the same tech as the Ozone Maximizer

In fact, much of this technology was originally developed for Ozone, but has been optimized for mixing, with ultra-efficient CPU performance and even a zero-latency mode.

Processing inside the Equalizer Module

Inside the equalizer module, you’ll find 12 nodes: a high-pass filter, a low-shelf, 8 fully-parametric bands, a high-shelf, and a low-pass filter.  Each of these nodes can be independently switched between static or dynamic mode.

With dynamic mode, the EQ is applied only when the frequencies in that band cross a threshold. This can be great for cutting problem areas or boosting pleasing characteristics only when you need them, while keeping the signal unprocessed at other times. Each dynamic node can be set to function like a compressor or expander and has it’s own threshold adjustment. All the dynamic EQ nodes can also be sidechained, either internally from other nodes or from an external signal. This makes Neutron’s EQ an incredibly precise de-esser and unlocks all sorts of creative options where you might have used sidechained compression in the past.

Each node also has multiple filter types available. You can adjust the frequency, gain, and Q-controls for each node either right on the spectrum or using the controls at the bottom of Neutron. For finer control on any of these parameters, hold the command key on a Mac, or control key on a PC while making the adjustment. You can also solo a narrow frequency area by holding the alt or option key and clicking anywhere in the spectrum.

 

Neutronsprocessors_maskingmeter_aem

Engage the Masking Meter by pressing the “Masking” button. That will reveal a dropdown menu, where you can choose other tracks within your session that already have Neutron instantiated.

Learn more about using the Masking Meter in the tutorial “Un-masking your mix with Neutron.”

To employ the Track Assistant intelligence just on the EQ module, click the “Learn” button and play back just a few seconds of audio. This will automatically suggest EQ node placements for you to use as a starting point.

Learn more about the Track Assistant feature in the tutorial “Using the Track Assistant in Neutron.”

Processing inside the Compressor Modules

Within the two compressors, you’ll find there are a number of options to customize their behavior and sound. They are functionally identical and can each be operated in multiband mode, with independent controls for each of the three bands, or you can use them in broadband mode just by turning off the other bands. Many engineers like to use two compressors in series with different settings, which is why there are two included in Neutron.

Neutronsprocessors_digital_vintage_aem

You can choose between the transparent digital mode or the vintage mode (found at the top of compressor in the image to the left). Vintage mode channels the nuance and character of classic analog compressors and offers VU meters for monitoring gain reduction.

To the right of those modes is the sidechain filter. This engages high and low pass filters on the key signal, so that you can adjust the reaction compressor. Controlling those filters can be done right in the spectrum. To listen to just the sidechain signal, you can solo them by clicking on the button in the bottom left of the spectrum.

Just above the spectrum you’ll find the makeup gain adjustment, which can also be set to automatic by clicking on the “Auto Gain” button.  You also have the option of changing the detection mode between RMS, Peak, and True—which stands for “True Envelope” detection. Changing the detection mode can radically change the character of the compressor, so try each one on different tracks to see what works for you. There is also a control for Auto Release, which will scale release times based on the incoming signal. If it detects strong transients, it will shorten the release time slightly, and for more sustained signals, it will make it slightly longer, all relative to the release times you’ve set for each band.

You can use the “Learn” button to listen to the incoming audio and have the Track Assistant automatically suggest crossover points for the multiband compressor.

At the bottom of the spectrum, you’ll find the traditional controls for each band of the compressor. Each band can be activated, bypassed, or soloed here; and ratio, knee, threshold, gain, and time constants can each be adjusted. Just like the dynamic EQ, they can each be individually sidechained as well, and the blend control allows you to use easily create parallel compression effects.

Processing inside the Exciter Module

In the exciter module, there are some parameters that may be familiar from the compressor. The exciter can also function in multiband or broadband modes by turning the bands on or off, and the “Learn” button can set crossover points for these bands just like the compressor.

At the top of the module are selectors for the three global emphasis modes: full, defined, and clear. These add filters to the signal sent to the exciter to create different timbral responses from the saturation. Full subtly emphasizes low-mids, Defined adds emphasis in the high-mids, and Clear gently attenuates the low-mids.

At the bottom of the module are the controls for each band. The XY pads allow you to create a customized blend of the four saturation styles. You can also adjust the drive and blend per band, and activate, bypass, or solo each band just like in the compressor. The amount of excitation being applied is revealed in the spectrum by shadings of gray and white, like the northern lights of the masking meter.

 

Processing inside the Transient Shaper Module

The multiband transient shaper module can also learn crossover frequencies. The three global modes at the top of the module choose from three distinct transient shaping algorithms, each with their own unique response characteristics. For each band, you can adjust the attack and sustain, as well as envelope contour, and of course the same controls to activate, bypass, and solo each band.

 

Processing inside the Limiter

Finally, the limiter always sits at the end of the signal chain and is activated by a button just below the input meter. You should set the output ceiling for the limiter, and then the input into the limiter with the slider to the right of the output meter.

You can choose from three different limiter algorithms: IRC LL, a specialized low-latency mode developed for RX Final Mix, IRC 2, directly from Ozone, and Hard, a classic brickwall limiter that will get crunchy if you want it to. To customize the sound of these limiting algorithms even further, they each have 3 different character settings that you can choose from.

As a bonus, you’ll see that the Spectral Shaping technology from the free plug-in Neutrino is built right into Neutron. If you used track assistant, you might have noticed that it recognized the input signal and automatically chose which Neutrino mode to use. You can select between modes here, or just choose “Clean” to bypass the Neutrino processing.

 

Ready to try Neutron for yourself?

Try the free 10-day trial of Neutron and achieve unprecedented focus, clarity, and creativity in your mixes.

To learn more about any of Neutron’s revolutionary features, check out some of our other tutorials below.

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