Asbjoern Andersen


iZotope has just released RX5, the latest version of their popular solution for repairing and enhancing problematic production audio. With RX5, iZotope introduces a couple of industry-firsts, like their De-plosive and Leveler modules – and something described as a Magic Eraser. All that got me intrigued, so I got in touch with Matt Hines, product manager for Post Production at iZotope, for the story behind RX5.
Oh, and I’ve also got two copies of RX5 to give away – find out how to win them below, too!
 

Hi Matt, congrats on the release of RX5! The last time we spoke, you had just released RX4. What feature did you get the most positive feedback on in that version – and what would you highlight as must-have features for RX4 users considering an upgrade to RX5?

With the launch of RX 4, a few of the flagship highlights included RX Connect, used to integrate RX as an Audio Editor with your DAW/NLE timeline, and in RX 4 Advanced, Ambience Match, used to automatically extract an ambient noise profile that can then be used to fill any gaps or edit points in a scene, in addition to EQ Match, Loudness and the first arrival of the Leveler. Looking at our opt-in analytics, it’s astounding to see how many people rely on RX Connect.

For users upgrading to RX 5, the new Instant Process tool mentioned below is fantastic, as is Module Chain (an effects rack allowing you to load up and fire off as many different RX module processes as you require with a single mouse click, saving the custom chain for reapplication at any time).

Looking at our opt-in analytics, it’s astounding to see how many people rely on RX Connect

There’s also the new Ambience Match AudioSuite plug-in for Pro Tools, the brand new Leveler with de-ess and de-breath technologies, as well as the flagship De-plosive module, a new EQ, and also smaller but significant workflow enhancements like clip-by-clip and handles support for plug-in processing (including RX Connect) in Pro Tools.
 

You’re describing the De-plosive module as an industry-first. How’s it different from what else is out there – and how did you come up with a solution for the plosives issue?

Rather than use traditional equalization and dynamics processing techniques, we use some advanced spectral processing techniques. To quote Alexey Lukin, the DSP Engineer who researched and built the De-plosive algorithm, “De-plosive is more than a low-band limiter. It is more like a de-clicker coupled with spectral repair. This kind of processing is gentler toward useful dialogue and can, in many cases, preserve harmonics of the voice while cleaning thumps between them.”
 
 

The giveaway is now over – winners will be announced soon. Thanks a lot to all of you taking part!

 

You’ve also got a new leveler module in there – how does that work, and what kind of usage scenarios is it designed for?

The Leveler module automatically rides the gain in your file to even out the variations of the signal level. It creates a transparent, non-destructive Clip Gain envelope, without the color or artifacts of a traditional compressor. It’s particularly useful on dialogue tracks, where certain syllables or words may be too loud or too quite, and it also offers the ability to intelligently de-ess and de-breath while performing the overall volume smoothing. Once it’s created the Clip Gain envelope, your dialogue is consistent in volume and may be adjusted in any other more conventional way (EQ, Compression, etc.).
 

The Instant Process tool – aka the magic eraser – also stands out as a very clever feature. Just how does it work?

Instant Process allows any user to paint away any audio problem with one mouse click. With Instant Process enabled, any selection the user makes will be instantly processed by one of five modes (Attenuate, De-click, Fade, Gain, Replace). These modes correspond to whatever the settings in that particular module tab are.

Instant Process allows any user to paint away any audio problem with one mouse click

It’s smart too… if a user’s trying to de-click a very narrow selection of audio, Instant Process will automatically process using Interpolate, which is the best De-click algorithm for those kinds of edits. On the flip side, if a user selects a wider band, it will automatically process using the regular De-click algorithm. All in all, it’s a pretty intuitive, smart workflow enhancer, and it removes one layer of abstraction between the user and the spectrogram, as they can see a sound, and erase it instantly.
 


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What are some of the other tweaks and improvements you’ve made that people may not notice off the bat?

There’s always a ton of improvements that don’t get as much love. In RX 5, the Corrective EQ is a complete overhaul of the EQ module, both visually and sonically speaking, and we’ve also added a Signal Generator module, useful for scientifically accurate test tones and production tones, along with the ability to search Markers and Regions (useful for long files and huge edits), some faster statistics calculations, retina support and more.
 

With RX being as ubiquitous as it is in the audio industry, do you see a risk of people overusing it – ie. skimping on the recording quality earlier in the production chain and then relying on RX to fix it?

Unfortunately, yes. We’ll always advocate for obtaining the cleanest, best sounding recording possible at the time of recording. However, there are times where the producer or director will rely heavily on the skills of the audio post production team and the tools they use, with that infamous phrase “let’s fix it in post”.

At the end of the day, the audio team is stuck with the audio they receive, particularly if there’s no time for ADR.

The most we can do is make our tools as transparent as possible, and educate our users on best practices, but at the end of the day, the audio team is stuck with the audio they receive, particularly if there’s no time for ADR.
 

Overall, when you look at the audio post production landscape in general, what trends are you noticing? And what excites you the most?

One of the more positive trends I see is that the adoption of loudness standards over the past 5 years has really begun to result in much more creative, dynamic mixes, because there’s no longer any advantage to competitively cranking up the levels. Though mixing for the various loudness standards, and the network specific deliver specs can still be a headache, these days a lot of the conversation is less about the pain points and more about “how can we be more creative while meeting the standard?”.

I’ve met many audio engineers who take great pride in their work, and feel that the pendulum has swung too far towards efficiency in the quality/efficiency compromise in the content creation process.

One of the less positive trends I’m seeing, and this is nothing new, is the increasing push for more content in less time, inevitably resulting in lower quality content being produced. This sucks for the audio teams who have oppressively tight deadlines, and I’ve met many audio engineers who take great pride in their work, and feel that the pendulum has swung too far towards efficiency in the quality/efficiency compromise in the content creation process. Certainly, it’s possible to deliver high quality in a short amount of time, but people aren’t always given the freedom to do so. This is something I wrote about here.

A big thanks to Matt Hines for the insights on RX5! If you’re looking to get yourself a copy of RX5, you’ll find both the regular and Advanced versions right here.
 

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    This original library is from the personal collection of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernández (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

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    Each item was worked and re-worked in all manners of handling to pull out the crepitation and squeaks, course and fine grains, flops and rigids hits, and plenty of clanks and clacks of rivets, buckles, clasps, and other metal components knocking together. Beyond the many handling sounds, there are specific drops and light impact sounds of two different proximities. As impacts are quite commonly needed for Foley and creative designs, we were sure to capture them for these rich textured leather and metal items.

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    The library includes a version for the full Kontakt 5.8.1+, and a .wav version:

    17 Kontakt 5 instruments:
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato Portamento
    • 2 Types Vocal Legato Sustain 
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    • Vocal Whispers Phrases
    • Vandria Pad

    + WAV version

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    In the forests, you’ll find sounds of RAIN FALLING ON DIRT, LEAVES and more.
    In addition to the sounds of CARS PASSING BY and RAINY TRAFFIC in cities, you’ll also find RAIN COMING OUT FROM PIPES, HITTING THE ASPHALT and various kinds of RAIN POURING ON ROOFS such as PORCHES and LARGE PARKING LOTS and more.
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