The availability of plugins in the current context of music production is absolutely mind-blowing. The plugin standard for virtual studio technology was created as an open standard with Steinberg Music Technology. We at Bunker 8 have been using plugins since our inception as a company, hence the moniker “Digital Labs”. We love mixing in the box.
Izotope’s Ozone is already a mainstay in our mastering suite. So it was with great anticipation that we approached the installation and use of this plugin. At first glance, it is utterly gorgeous. Izotope’s UI is very inviting and clean. Just like Ozone, Izotope’s interface is all clean vectors and flat, readable shapes. It looks the business.
Neutron’s software is all about showing and sharing with you the benefits of making better decisions in your mix. Its intuitive design means that you literally can be ready in minutes. Unlike Ozone, which sits on the end of a mix bus and helps make decisions on an overall mix, Placing Neutron on each channel of a mix, You then have several options at that point. You can activate all of the processors and in manual mode, use it as a channel strip plugin, something that it does very well, or you can use some of the track automation functionality.
Mask automation is a significant feature of this plugin. What track masking does is reveals. Masking is a very convenient and quick to use a feature, like an assistant mix engineer or another pair of ears, it hunts down those problem areas on a track and makes a series of frequency recommendations. Those frequency recommendations can then be used to inform your manual fixing of the track. Again, you would usually pick up and make mix decisions at that point manually, but here is where the coolest part of the technology comes into play.
Right up front in the display is a function called track assist. Being ever so doubtful of its usefullness, I pressed the button expecting nothing to come out the other end. It takes about 15 seconds to evaluate a track and then it spits out its recommendations for EQ, compression, exciter, etc. It was not like there was a huge difference in the sound, but the difference was that critical 10-20%. The tracks seem to fit together better; the problem frequencies properly cut. When placed on every channel of the mix and run, the mix had an outstanding better sound quality overall. I tried this on some problems in our mixes that I was working on and each time, the results were always usable. There was always a bit of additional tweaking, but like any good assistant mixing engineer, it brought me closer to the sound that I was looking for in the mix.
If you are in the market for a channel strip plugin, looking for that extra pair of ears or are just curious as to what automation plugins can add to your in the box sound, you cannot go wrong with Neutron. They really are right about it providing clarity and depth to your mixes.