Neutron – Izotope’s All-In-One Mixing Plugin
Izotope’s product “Neutron” is a plug-in that comes with a serious combination of tools for mixing, you can chain their Dynamic EQ, 2 Multi-band Compressors, Transient Shaper, and Exciter in any order. The Compressors can produce a clean modern sound or when in “vintage mode” will output signals like a CLA-2A tube compressor; the Exciter offers harmonic shaping with 3 XY selectors that each push the sound towards Retro/Warm/Tape/Tube; the Transient Shaper is an awesome addition to have even if you already have one, and is extremely responsive from subtle levels up to when the effect is increased. Each of these modules allows for multi-band processing and deliver sound that stands up to any other high-end plugin on the market, the fact that you get all of them together at such a low price should be enough to pique your interest. If the great bang-for-your-buck doesn’t do it for you, what makes this plugin truly unique is its analysis features running under the hood of its Dynamic EQ – the “Masking”, and “Track Assistant” buttons.
These operate based on Neutron’s ability to analyze frequencies in the EQ spectrum, highlight them, then make edits to varying degrees based on the strength of settings you choose. When using the most basic feature, “Learn”, Neutron will point out frequencies to pay attention to by placing EQ nodes on the spectrum. Activating the “Track Assistant” will then let Neutron make decisions by boosting or cutting those frequencies it’s pointed out, it’s like having your own personal assistant engineer, except it doesn’t smell bad. I find using these two features even on the lowest strength settings allow me to mix quicker, more accurately, and provide visual validation to what my ears are already telling me.
If you’re having trouble with instruments fighting for space in your mix, you should place Neutron on both channels and activate the Masking feature. Two things happen: 1) You will see a visual representation of the frequencies that are interfering with each other 2) You will be able to edit both channels’ EQs from the same interface saving you from the hassle of hopping from one channel to the other and back. What’s especially dope is clicking the ‘Inverse Link’ option which applies boosts on one channel wherever you make cuts on the other, and vice versa; for example, instead of boosting 450Hz +4dB on one channel, now you will have a +2dB boost on one channel and a -2dB cut on the opposite linked channel. The benefit of this is that way you can make more precise changes on while also creating more space in your overall mix.
What else is in it?
In addition to setting the EQ, Neutron will set the other effects’ controls and chain the units based on what it thinks will give you the best sound. That note is important to remember when using an automated plugin like this, your style and creative choices may not be immediately reflected by Neutron’s settings. If you aren’t pleased with the controls it has set then tweak them, in doing so Neutron becomes an assistant that will absolutely enhance your own mix decisions.
Neutron Standard costs $249, and the Advanced version costs $349; both work for the most recent versions of MacOS and Windows 10. I used my Beatlab Discount and went for the Advanced version, with it, you gain the ability to use each module individually (I like the control and saving processing power).
If you are new to mixing I would also recommend this ear trainer from Izotope, it’s free!