After a couple of weeks playing around with iZotope’s Neutron 3, I’ve come to the conclusion the new version of this plug-in is better than its predecessors and does a better job of mixing than I can. While it will make professional sound engineers’ lives easier, it is the difference between a rubbish soundtrack and a good sounding one when you’re editing the sound of your movie or presentation, wearing your amateur sound engineering hat.
Neutron 3’s Mix Assistant lets you create a balanced starting point for a level mix with a focus you choose and, certainly when you’re not a professional sound engineer, that makes things a lot easier on you. However, for perfect results, the Mix Assistant should only be considered a starting point unless you really don’t know where to start. In that case, you can do with the Mix Assistant’s settings in most cases or experiment with its simple adjustment interface it presents after performing its magic. If that doesn’t mean anything to you either, you’ll have to hire a sound engineer or make do with the often downright low-level results of so-called AI-driven apps/services that will do it for you.
To me, the Mix Assistant is a boon as I do hear differences between several settings and do know what to adjust post-assisted-settings. My problem has always been that I don’t know where to start when a mix has more than three or four tracks. Mix Assistant takes the hardest part out of my hands and does a good job at creating something decent, even when I have 12 tracks to consider. Afterwards, it’s a matter of listening and adjusting a few parts that are clearly labelled as an added benefit.
Of course I also tried Neutron 3’s newest modules such as Sculptor, which lets you sweeten, fix and change sounds. I was especially interested in changing sounds. Sculptor doesn’t adjust your track in crude ways; instead it communicates with Track Assistant to understand each instrument and give real-time feedback to help shape tracks to a target EQ-curve or create a new sound that still fits in with the rest of your mix.
The newly designed Masking Meter is another module that allows you to improve your mix by showing you masking issues as hot areas so you can fix them from within Neutron’s global display. Neutron 3 is also much snappier, with faster load times and smoother metering, but on my 3.4 GHz i5 iMac with three Neutron-loaded tracks, it didn’t take long before it overloaded Logic Pro X.