iZotope is known as a company that makes software and hardware, including high-quality plug-ins for mastering, noise reduction and audio restoration. A number of applications come bundled with some of their tools, most notably Sony Sound Forge Pro, Adobe Audition CC and Premiere Pro CC. As with most plug-in developers, iZotope offers a nice family of effects that can be installed and run on a variety of audio and video host applications. In addition, iZotope also offers its own host application called RX 2. It runs as a standalone single track (mono or stereo) audio application that leverages the power of the iZotope DSP and forms a dedicated repair and mastering suite. RX 2 is ideal for any music, audio production or video post production challenge. It can read most standard audio files, but cannot directly work on an audio track embedded within a video file, like a QuickTime movie.
iZotope RX 2 comes in a standard and advanced version. Both include such modules as Denoiser, Spectral Repair, Declip, Declick, Decrackle, Hum Removal, EQ and Channel Operations. RX 2 Advanced also adds adaptive noise reduction, third-party plug-in support, a Deconstruct module, dithering, 64-bit sample rate conversion, iZotope’s Radius time and pitch control, as well as azimuth alignment for the restoration of poor recordings from audiotape. Of course, RX 2 is also useful as a standard file-based audio editor, with delete, insert and replace functions.
Both versions are engineered around sophisticated spectral analysis. The RX 2 display superimposes the spectral graph with the audio waveform and gives you a balance slider control to adjust their relative visibilities. If you’ve used any Adobe audio software that included spectral-based repair tools, like SoundBooth or Audition, then you already know how this works in RX 2. Frequencies can be isolated using the spectral display or unwanted noises can be “lassoed” and then corrected or removed. RX 2 also includes an unlimited level of undos and retains a current state history. When you return to the program it picks up where you left off. It also holds four temporary history locations or “snapshots”, that are ideal for comparing the audio with or without certain processing applied.
The iZotope RX 2 interface is designed for efficient operation with all available modules running down the right side of the window, as well as being accessible from the top menu. Click a module button and the specific iZotope plug-in window opens for that task. There you can make adjustments to the parameters or save and recall presets. Unlike a DAW application, the modules/plug-ins must be previewed from the plug-in window and then applied to process your audio file. You cannot add multiple modules and have them all run in real-time without processing the audio to a buffer first. That’s where the four temporary history buttons come in handy, as you can quickly toggle between several versions of applied effects on the same audio file for comparison. RX 2 includes a batch processor that can run in the background. If you have a group of modules to be applied to a series of audio files, simply set up a preset of those settings and apply them to the batch of files.
When you install the RX 2 package, the iZotope modules are also available as plug-ins within other compatible applications. For example, on my Mac Pro, these plug-ins show up and work within Final Cut Pro X. Now with RX 2 Advanced, it works the other way, too. Any AU, VST, RTAS or Direct-X plug-in installed on your computer can be accessed from the RX 2 Advanced interface. In my case, that includes some Waves, Focusrite and Final Cut Audio Units effects filters. If I want to use the Waves Vocalrider plug-in to smooth out the dynamics of a voice-over recording, I simply access it as a plug-in, select a preset or make manual adjustments, preview and process – just like with the native iZotope plug-ins.
RX 2 Advanced also adds an adaptive noise mode to the Denoiser module. This is ideal for noisy on-location production, where the conditions change during the course of the recording. For instance, an air conditioner going on and off within a single recorded track. Another unique feature in RX 2 Advanced is a new Deconstruct module. This tool lets you break down a recording into parts for further analysis and/or correction. For example, you can separate noise from desired tonal elements and adjust the balance between them.
iZotope’s RX 2 and RX 2 Advanced are one-stop applications for cleaning up bad audio. Some of these tools overlap with what you may already own, but if you need to do a lot of this type of work, then RX 2 will be more efficient and adds more capabilities. In September 2013, iZotope will release the updates for RX3 and RX3 Advanced. iZotope’s algorithms are some of the best on the market, so sonic quality is never compromised. Whether it’s poorly recorded audio or restoring archival material, RX 2 or RX 3 offer a toolkit that’s perfect for the task.
©2013 Oliver Peters