If you want a quick round-up of some of the hottest new software releases for use in music and post-production then at Production Expert we've created this summary. We tell you what the brand says and what we think, we also include links to help you find out more.
This week we take a look at:
iZotope RX 7 And RX 7 Advanced
What Is New In RX 7 Advanced
This update brings the audio post community even more control over dialogue and time-efficient workflow enhancements including…
Dialogue Contour - Ever wanted to change the intonation of a re-edited sequence?With RX 7 you can now reshape the intonation of dialogue to rescue or improve a performance, powered by pitch correction tailored to speech and designed to adjust the inflection of words within a phrase.
Dialogue De-reverb - iZotope has taken the excellent De-reverb module and produced a version designed to reduce or remove unwanted reverb from dialogue clips using a machine learning based algorithm trained to separate spoken dialogue from reverberant signal content.
Pro Tools AudioSuite plug-ins - iZotope has taken some of the processes that could only be used as modules in the standalone version of RX 6 and made them into Pro Tools AudioSuite plug-ins saving you time when fixing production audio by staying within Pro Tools to access features like De-Rustle and Dialogue Isolate.
Multi-channel support - We can now process audio issues that come up in any or every surround channel up to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2.
What Is New In RX 7 Standard
iZotope has focused the design of RX 7 to make audio repair easier for musicians using their latest advances in assistive audio technology, to help musicians speed past mundane tasks so they can focus on creative work including…
Repair Assistant - iZotope has taken the ‘Assistant’ technology, which they have already introduced into Ozone and Neutron to produce what they claim to be an industry-first intelligent repair tool analyses audio to detect defects like noise, clipping and clicks, then offer three processing suggestions, each with three different intensities to help make fixes faster than ever.
Music Rebalance - Using a machine learning based algorithm, Music Rebalance performs source separation by identifying vocals, bass, percussion, and other instruments. You can then individually enhance or reduce elements of a stereo audio track, making it possible to adjust a mix when you don’t have access to the multitracks or stems.
Remove/Isolate Vocals - iZotope has designed it so you can take push the Music Rebalance module even further to create instrumental versions of songs by removing the vocal elements, or isolate the vocal to prepare a remix when you don’t have access to individual tracks or stems.
What Is New in RX Elements
RX Elements has also been updated with a streamlined version of Repair Assistant, offering a single repair suggestion with a choice of three intensity levels.
What We Say About iZotope RX 7
Repair Assistant is very clever and will be useful for the newcomer and specialist user alike. I really like that having analysed the audio, it offers 3 different solutions using different module combinations and a simple and easy to use audition window be able to compare the 3 recommended solutions with the original. I like that when you open Repair Assistant on another file it still has the previous settings saved, making it very easy to process a batch of files with the same problems and saves the time of re-analysing another file the the same issues. If you working on a different file then all you need to do is click on the Start Over button and Repair Assistant will go to work afresh.
Music Rebalance is the sort of feature you would normally expect to be an RX 7 Advanced only feature so hats off to iZotope for including this new feature in RX 7 Standard as well as RX 7 Advanced from the get-go.
I first tried in on a track, which I unfortunately cannot share here, but I was very impressed with the way I was able to reduce the percussive elements so they didn’t obscure the speech, as well as increase the bass elements which wouldn’t fight with the speech and so produce a version of the mix that was much more suitable as an underscore for the speech and as a consequence be able to retain a good level of music without compromising intelligibility.
Moving onto the RX 7 Advanced only features, at last we have multi-channel support. The implementation has been well thought through and we have multi-channel versions of the RX Connect and RX Monitor plug-ins too. What is also nice is that if you have say a 5.1 instance of the RX Monitor plug-in and you audition a mono or stereo file, they are routed through to the front left and right channels. It would be nice if mono files could be routed to the centre channel only and quad files be routed to the front left and right and the surround left and right, but hopefully this can be resolved soon in a future update.
With the help of more machine learning algorithms iZotope has produced a dedicated dialogue version of their de-reverb module and straight from my first test my jaw was back on the floor. Make sure you check out the demo to hear for yourself. I especially like that it has the same ambience preservation control that we have seen on modules like De-rustle.
We often reorder some audio to help an edit to make sense but although it works on paper it doesn’t work so well with the audio because the intonation isn’t right. Dialogue Contour has been designed to enable us to fix this. I have to say that although it can fix mild changes of intonation and putting some life into flat, read’ script it doesn’t quite get to the golden bullet of being able to completely remove a vocal or extract a vocal completely cleanly but it is getting there.
More AudioSuite Plug-ins
It is great to have some of the machine learning based modules as plug-ins in Pro Tools, so we can get access to modules like Dialog Isolate and De-rustle without having to go through the round-trip out of Pro Tools into RX and back to Pro Tools.
Having both the Music Rebalance and Repair Assistant added straight into RX 7 Standard
Having more RX 7 AudioSuite plug-ins in Pro Tools
The Dialog De-reverb plug-in is amazing
Multi-channel support at last
The Dialogue Contour module is a little disappointing
The Vocal Remove option in the Music Rebalance isn’t the golden-bullet quite yet.
Learn More About RX 7 and RX 7 Advanced in our detailed article with exclusive review
Insight 2 By iZotope
What Does iZotope Say About Insight 2?
A lot has happened since iZotope launched Insight back in November 2012 including the implementation of loudness delivery specs including EBU R128 and ATSC A/85. Insight 2 has been completely overhauled and highlights include…
New Intelligibility Meter - iZotope has designed this to help users to get a clearer picture of how an audience will experience the dialogue. We understand that powerful DSP measures the intelligibility of dialogue compared to the rest of the mix to ensure that the dialogue level can be clearly heard in different listening environments.
A new look - They have completely overhauled the GUI so that Insight 2 matches the other iZotope products like RX 7 and Neutron 2. You can resize and customise the new user interface, which has been redesigned to be easier to read at a glance
Multichannel support - Along with RX 7 Advanced, Insight 2 now supports multi-channel formats up to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2.
Global loudness standard support - Insight 2 supports loudness targets for latest standards including EBU R128, BS.1770-1, BS.1770-2/3/4, ATSC A/85, and OP-59.
What Do We Think About Insight 2 By iZotope
The New Look
The updating of the look of Insight with this update is very welcome. Insight was looking dated to say the least but as a trail blazer iZotope has the challenge of going first. They produced Insight back in 2012 when there were relatively few audio visualiser plug-ins, as Insight was, and is much more, than a metering plug-in making it long overdue a refresh.
iZotope has bought Insight 2 into line with their current products in the Post Production Suite like Neutron 2 Advanced and iZotope RX7. But as we come to expect with iZotope they have done more than just refresh it. they have also done some trailblazing with the introduction on an Intelligibility Meter, which is a first in audio metering.
New Intelligibility Meter
Being the first, brings it’s own challenges in that you have to set the style, and the standard, and iZotope has risen to that challenge with the Intelligibility meter in Insight 2. The top meter which doesn’t have a scale, rather target to aim for is very intuitive and it is interesting that the target moves, when you change the expected environment the consumer might be in when listening to the content. However the bottom 2 meters with a scale in phons (a throwback to the intelligibility measurement for sound reinforcement and emergency announcement systems) are not clear. For me there is still some work to do but when you don’t have anything to go on, you have to start somewhere especially when trailblazing.
This will be so helpful by giving us a measurement of intelligibility of our mixes, especially as more and more of the content we mix is being consumed in noisy and challenging locations, with playback systems that do not offer the best sound quality.
Coming back to the GUI, it’s great to have colour in the meters both level and loudness in Insight 2, although it would be nice to be able to adjust the breakpoints between the colours, especially on the loudness meters.
More Presets But No Netflix Setting
There is a good selection of different delivery spec presets including regional variations like the UK DPP version of the EBU R128 spec. That said, it is a shame that they haven’t been able to respond to the new Netflix spec and add the dialog gating mode and Netflix presets with Dialog LRA. I am sure that they are working on it and let’s hope it will be added in a further update in the not too distant future.
A trailblazing Intelligibility Meter
A new look that matches the other iZotope products and is very comfortable to look at
Multi-channel support up to 7.1.2
Being able to adjust the colour breakpoints on the meters
No Netflix presets yet
Learn More About Insight 2 By iZotope
Check our detailed article on Insight 2 and the new RX Post Production Suite 3
PatchCad 2.0 by PatchCad
What Do PatchCad Say About Patch 2.0
In a continuing effort to improve and deliver a more powerful tool and a more efficient and streamline user experience, we are proud to announce the immediate release of the next major version of PatchCAD which is now available as two versions – PatchCAD and PatchCAD Pro!
Launched just over 18 months ago, PatchCAD has become the industry’s leading tool for designing and labelling patchbays, termination and patch panels. Although still a young product, PatchCAD has already been adopted by private individuals, artists, producers, studio owners and the biggest professional organisations around the world. PatchCAD is used by the most established household names in the recording studio, installation, broadcast, communications and media sectors.
Featuring an intuitive user interface, PatchCAD enables powerful fast design and labelling of patchbays. No measuring required due to the included and constantly updating 1,800+ strong collection of templates for industry standard audio and video patchbays, termination panels, Ethernet and fibre optic patchbays. The smart algorithm allows printing on any connected printer and and kind of paper size hassle free.
Always evolving, PatchCAD users receive regular free updates. At the heart of PatchCAD and PatchCAD Pro is a collection of templates like no other. From the very beginning, we have been growing this massive database of templates which are available for free to all users. From the simplest panel to complicated patchbays, from the common to the very rare, this is the most comprehensive body of work of this kind assembled. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, from the very beginning, we have been speaking to users, collating ideas, and constantly improving features and workflow.
What Do We Think About PatchCad 2.0
I was lucky enough to meet Adam the owner of PatchCad at MusikMesse around 2 years ago. He told me about PatchCad and I loved the idea. Then I tried it and was blown away at how easy it was to make my patch bays look tidy and organised.
Very sensibly Adam as created a two tier pricing system creating PatchCad and PatchCad Pro. Pro adds even more very useful new features including the ability to add graphics to your patch bay labelling which looks very sweet. If you own PatchCad version 1 and you use it often just pay for the upgrade to version 2.0 Pro. The extra £50 it cost you have already saved a number of times over even if you have only labeled up your own studio and if you work for an installation company and use PatchCad as part of your job, think of this as your yearly subscription.
Powerful editing tools.
Accurate real-time patchbay preview.
Precision printing of any printer or paper.
Create custom templates.
Export as image, to Excel or as PDF.
Perpetual free updates of templates.
Perpetual software updates.
Comprehensive templates list.
3 Concurrent activations.
PRO Sockets configuration, design and previews for termination panels.
PRO Add notes above and below the patchbay.
PRO Change border style and thickness.
PRO Add images to patchbay cells.
It’s easy to create professional patchbay labels.
There are templates for most of the common patchbays on the market.
Not just a recording studio product. There are templates for all kinds of audio, video and data patchbays.
CatchCad is amazing value for money, even if you only use it once a year.
PatchCad software is PC only.
You can check out my review of PatchCad version 1 in the video below and you can find out more about PatchCad 2.0 by visiting the PatchCad website.
Vanguard Audio Labs V1S + Lolli Stereo Microphone System
Vanguard Audio Labs V1S Stereo Microphone System
The heart of the V1S kit is the Vanguard V1 mic body. It is a traditional pencil condenser form factor with interchangeable heads or capsules. The kit I have here includes a matched pair of V1 mics with a full set of capsules from what you might call the standard Cardioid to Hyper-Cardioid, Wide-Cardioid and Omnidirectional. This kit also includes the V34C or “Lolli” capsule which contains the same capsule inner workings as the Vanguard V13 valve condenser mic that James reviewed back in 2016.
The Lolli also has 2 different polar pickup patterns (cardioid and omnidirectional) but for these test I only used the cardioid setting as I felt with my current setup and the proximity to the drum room roof, this would not produce a pleasing result.
The V1 uses all top spec components in it’s JFET design including a custom wound transformer, premium capacitors. What Vanguard call their “straight-wire” design philosophy means that only four components sit between the capsule and the output.
What We Say About The Vanguard Audio Labs V1S + Lolli Stereo Microphone System
The V1S is a stunning microphone and it’s not just me saying that, I’m hearing it from a great many top engineers, producers and audio industry friends. As with all the mics in the Vanguard range the build quality, look and feel of the V1 is just perfection and the mic has a nice weight to it. It feels like the quality product that it is when you are setting it up. Every little detail has been thought about, even down to having the Vanguard logo on the Lolli line up with the Vanguard logo on the V1 body when it is screwed into place, which is a very nice touch.
The Vanguard V1 is a fantastic microphone. To my ears and tastes I liked both the Lolli mix and the Half-Cardioid recordings, but I would be quite happy with any of the results.
The very small team at Vanguard are making some stunning microphones. I already own their V44S Stereo condenser which I reviewed back in 2017 and I think I will be putting my hand in my pocket for the V1S package.
Learn More About The Vanguard Audio Labs V1S + Lolli Stereo Microphone System
James will be putting the Vanguard Audio Labs V1S + Lolli Stereo Microphone System to the test to see if they will end his many years of searching for the best overhead mic sound for drums as he has been testing the new Vanguard Audio Labs V1S Stereo mic kit. Could this be the answer he has been looking for and what else does the full V1S Stereo Kit bring to the party? You won’t have long to find out…