Review Izotope Neutron – Next generation channel strip

With years of experience under their belt Izotope developed a new mixing tool from the ground up. Nor did they only look at the current possibilities and try to give their vision to it. They also looked at the problems mix engineers have and provide them with the tool to solve those problems. The result is one of the more innovative developments of late in the mixing area with the challenge to create an insanely extensive tool that was easy to use.

Neutron consists of a number of mixing options that allow you to use and customize the sound you would like to in many ways. For the advanced version you even can use the separate components as normal plugins if you just want to use that single component which in itself already has as much as options as the competitors. Every component also has a mix feature to fine-tune the parallel mixing. Neutron has a unique feature that allows you to communicate between two separate instances to fine-tune parts of the sound to combine the sound of those two tracks.

At first glance this looks like a 7 band EQ but it actually has 10 bands if you count the high pass filter and shelf EQ. It also features dynamic EQ with optional (external) side chain features. If you want to look up key frequencies fast you can use the learn button which takes a few seconds and you then adjust the EQ bands to your likings. Dragging the frequencies not only show you the frequencies but also what note the frequency is in so you can find that resonant note and deal with it.

A unique feature of EQing is that you can link a second instance of Neutron or just the EQ and pair up these two to find spots in the frequency domain where they start to mask each other. The perfect example would be the kick and bass combination and the means to have them fit in the mix properly by using the inverse EQ option to boost one track while cutting the other track. Not that you could do this with a regular EQ and using your ears. This way allows you to operate quicker and more precise because you can use the metering of Neutron. Personally I prefer to use my ears to metering any day though but if you are working towards a deadline this may help you out.

This basically is a 3-band compressor/expander with a mix and (external) side chaining option for every band. You can use two of these instances of the compressor in Neutron for e.g. vocal compressing and de-essing, tweaking the dynamics of a drum loop in 2 stages or even create a 6-band multi compressor.

This is a 3-band exciter. Every band has a drive, blend option and allows you to choose from the character of exciting. Ideal of subtle coloring the sound to give the track some more presence or a bit more tape like sound to soften it up.

Transient shaper
This is a 3-band transient shaper that has per band has an attack, sustain option and allow 3 types of envelopes. Ideal for percussive sounds and/or changing drum loops to suit your needs.

Not a separate module but very helpful is the limiter which fairly straightforward and easy to use and guard the track from overloading.

Is the overall sound option for subtle enhancement for any of the four options: Voice/Dialogue, Guitar/Instrument, Bass, and Drums/Percussive

Track assistant
This is an option to have the track analyzed and the plug-in give you suggestions which settings you can adjust. Although this is a new approach the times I used it the results tended to be the opposite I was looking for. If you are stuck in a mix or are struggling with a certain sound it surely can help you out with the suggestions. To use it extensively seems unlikely to me.

Neutron is truly a next generation channel strip where each of the components itself is viable enough to take on the competition as a standalone plug-in. For beginners the amount of features you can have your hands on may be overwhelming though. You may the use the track assistant to learn to use the plug-in faster.

Masking allows you to work fast and precise even though you can live without. For mix engineers that work on insane complex mixes this plug-in will be a lifesaver for sure.

For surround you have to use the advanced option but otherwise I would stick to the normal version. You always can upgrade if you think you do need the separate modules option.

For the rest I have no negative points because there aren’t any that I can think of. Sure more frequency band would be nice but how often would you really have to use them? For that you can use Ozone if you have to.

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