This plug-in will cost you nothing, and makes taming unruly frequencies in your mix a breeze
Neutrino is a spectral shaping plug-in that utilises the latest mixing technology from iZotope. It's designed to be used lavishly across your currently solid mixes, to achieve greater sonic balance and refinement.
Neutrino, spectral shaping, hyperspace, flux capacitor... it all sounds a little sci-fi for my liking! So first of all, let's be clear what this plug-in actually does before we get stuck into the details.
Under the hood
Spectral shaping, in simple terms, breaks the incoming audio into 32 different frequency bands, each spanning roughly 1/3 of an octave. Then Neutrino places an EQ onto each one of these bands. If one small set of frequencies gets too big for its boots, Neutrino will put it back into place. This becomes interesting when you add in the factor of time, similar to the attack and release on a compressor. The combination of these makes the Neutrino a hybrid 32-band compressor/dynamic EQ with extremely simplified controls.
Neutrino is a unpretentious plug-in that has four modes. Voice processes the midrange and high frequencies that dominate most vocal recordings. Instrument is supposed to smooth unwanted resonances across a wide range of frequencies. Bass is designed to focus on evening out notes that are popping out of an uneven low-end, while finally Drum utilises the attack and release times of the multi-band to enhance transients while cutting away the muddy and flabby frequencies that can plague a modern drum track. The Amount knob is a simple dry-wet function which is always a welcome feature. Finally we have Detail, which allows you to control the depth and span of the processing in relation to the incoming frequency spectrum.
In a time when 'tube emulation', 'warmth' and 'glue' are all studio buzzwords, it's refreshing to see that Neutrino is designed to be subtle in use and sonically transparent when the amount is set to zero. This is a very clean plug-in, adding no harmonics to my sine wave test tone when the effect was used minimally - this is highly desirable, especially with a plug-in that is intended to be used liberally throughout your mix.
The quality of the plug-in is surprisingly good. When I tested it on a raspy synth bass, it took away some top end harshness and evened out the overall frequency response. The audible effect of this was to make the bass sit better in context, which was a lovely surprise for a sceptic like me. On drums, it tightened the low-end of my kickdrum and retained the transient information well, also taming the body of my over-zealous snare with the resultant drums being tighter and less muddy. The results using Instrument and Vocal mode were similar: it felt as if Neutrino was looking for resonances or over-cooked frequencies and taming them subtly, the results of which were sonically pleasing every time.
I would definitely recommend that everyone give this a try. It's free and it really did add an extra 2% improvement to my mixes, which was a pleasant surprise. Neutrino is a delicate plug-in which reduces problem frequencies subtly and gently. Think of it as the glaze on the cherry on the icing on the cake. In other words - as it seems poor form not to include some kind of tenuous Oxide & Neutrino joke here - it’s bound to get your mixes a reload!
Best of all, if you try out Neutrino and love the results but want more control, then Neutron/Neutron Advanced will surely be your next purchase. Think of it as the geeky older brother of iZotope Alloy that has loads of extra gadgets; alternatively it can been seen as iZotope for the mix engineer. If you're looking for similar plugins to check out in this style of processing, the Dynamic Spectrum Mapper V2 from Pro Audio DSP is also worth a look.
Words: Matt Chapman
Review score: 4/5
System requirements: Windows 7/Mac OS X 10.9 or above
Formats: VST2, VST3, AU (32-/64-bit), RTAA (32-bit), AAX (64-bit), Audiosuite DPM
More info/download: www.izotope.com