Some products are upgraded once a year, even if the improvements seem few. On the surface, that’s the case with iZotope’s audio repair software RX 5 Audio Editor Advanced. If you dig a bit deeper, though, it becomes apparent the RX 5 upgrade is worth every penny. That’s not because the quality of the editing results has improved dramatically — I don’t believe that’s possible anymore. It’s due to new plug-ins and better integration with DAWs, including Avid’s ProTools.
iZotope’s venerable audio repair software has once again been upgraded. Now called RX 5 Audio Editor, I had the opportunity to try out the Advanced edition, which has the most complete set of tools. New to RX 5 Audio Editor Advanced are the De-plosive, Leveler and Ambience Match AudioSuite plug-ins. The Advanced edition also has the new tools that come with the regular edition of RX 5: the De-reverb plug-in, Instant Process tool, Module Chain, as well as the seamless integration with any DAW or NLE. I tried all of these, except the ProTools capabilities. For years, I have been asking Avid’s sound department for a test version of ProTools. I have yet to receive a reply and have now given up on the company completely.
I therefore tested the stand-alone features as well as those that integrate with Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X. The integration is smooth as butter, but that’s nothing new in my opinion. RX 4 integrated fine with my two hosts (Logic Pro X and Sound Forge Pro 2.5) as well. That leaves us with the new features and plug-ins. Let me start with the Instant Process tool, which is a button and a drop-down menu with a limited number of editing capabilities at the bottom of the interface. Instant Process works with local tools like the brush, but if you select the whole sound file, it will process that immediately as well. The tool’s last settings will be used to drive the Instant Process tool.
Instant Process does shave some time off your editing, but not all that much. In addition, if you forget to check your settings before you start painting, you risk making things worse. Now, if the drop-down menu would hold your presets, that would be a whole different matter. That would really be a time-saver as well as risk-free.
Another new feature that targets time-savings is the Module Chain. Basically, it allows you to group together correction modules/presets, change the order you apply them until you’re satisfied with the result, and save them as a new Chain preset. This should help you save a lot of time in circumstances where you know the input will generate the same sort of problems. However, in practice I found it to be much less effective and efficient than I expected it to be.
First the good news: it does work wonders if you’re editing the input from the same sort of hardware setup — the same microphones with the same ADC in the same room with the same sort of background noise, etc. The bad news is that if one of the parameters you’re trying to correct changes, you will need to adjust the corresponding modules in the Module Chain, ruining the time savings benefit of the batch approach in the first place.
New RX plug-ins
In RX 5 Audio Editor, a new plug-in makes its entrance: De-reverb. De-reverb — as its name implies — allows you to reduce reverb from a recording that has too much of it. The way it works is really simple and user-friendly.
In RX 5 Audio Editor Advanced, you’ll also get a De-plosive plug-in, a Leveler with intelligent De-breath and De-ess algorithms, and an Ambient Match AudioSuite plug-in for ProTools. The De-plosive plug-in lets you decrease the unpleasant sound explosions caused by uttering oral occlusives without using a pop filter on your mic. The De-plosive filter is actually as good as one of those pop filters. It doesn’t remove other sound that would make a voice sound thinner. iZotope says De-plosive is an industry first for any audio repair software suite.
The Leveler is my personal favourite because of the De-breath and De-ess algorithms. I knew these two from Nectar 2 and it’s great to have them in the Leveler now. The Ambience Match AudioSuite plug-in is a ProTools plug-in that fills in consistent ambience beds under constructed sentences and ADR lines right from within the ProTools AudioSuite. I couldn’t test this — as I said before: I don’t have a copy of ProTools.
A new module that’s not listed in the toolbar is Signal Generator. It may sound strange, but I think a Signal Generator is something that’s been lacking in most audio editors. iZotope’s Signal Generator is very useful for creating test tones, calibration tones, etc. It has three different input modes: Mix, Insert and Replace, which means you can for example replace obscene words by bleeps in dialogues.
iZotope’s RX 5 Audio Editor Advanced still leads its market by a large margin, but where workflow improvements are concerned, I doubt whether the new features will save much time. However, there is enough interesting and juicy stuff in the new version to justify an upgrade. Especially the new plug-ins, very probably the ProTools integration as well, and the Signal Generator, make this new version once again a must-have for anyone seriously involved with producing clean audio.