iZotope RX3 Advanced Review
- Category: Production
- Published: Wednesday, 23 October 2013 02:18
Izotope RX3 Advanced is an elegantly designed suite of audio restoration tools with a beautiful and intuitive interface that delivers transparent and effective results when used judiciously. We used it both in standalone mode and as a plug-in with Sony Vegas Pro 12. Most tools in the suite worked as a plug-in except for Spectral Repair which had to be run in standalone mode.
When shooting video we encounter a variety of audio challenges related to the environment, equipment or the performance. Plus there's the crew. We have an awesome network of audio engineers but no one's perfect and audio levels can be too weak or too hot in dynamic situations. So that's a lot of variables to deal with.
The end result of this imperfect sonic wonderland is unwanted hum and noise, rumble, occasional distortion, unwanted reverb and more. It all has to be addressed in post so we can deliver a pristine audio mix with our final video.
In the past we've had mixed results using noise reduction and audio restoration tools because of the artifacts introduced by the algorithms, mainly the phasing and thinning of the sound. The harder the tool was pushed the worse the artifacts got. The results were never really transparent enough to our liking.
Izotope RX3 is a smart prescription for post because it allows you to fix complex problems without introducing artifacts. Yes, if pushed too hard it's easy to do more harm than good, but we generally were able to improve the quality of the audio before introducing unwanted sonic garbage.
We used RX3 Advanced on three recent projects. One interview was in a large open space. The HVAC made a bit of a rumble and there was no way to turn it off, a very common scenario. The second was a web cam deal recorded in a rectangular and very live room. The third was an on camera performance with distorted and poorly recorded levels.
The RX3 noise reduction module did an excellent job removing unwanted hum and white noise from the HVAC. We got excellent results with 10 seconds of room tone as our noise profile. About 6dB of reduction was ideal for removing most of the unwanted noise with minimal artifacts. This was more than enough for projects where a music bed would help mask any remaining noise.
In most cases, we were able to use RX3 to improve the audio in a transparent way. Removing reverb from a recording is still very challenging to do and takes more time to dial in. Luckily, the intuitive controls make it easy to simply experiment until you get the desired results.
In general we got the best results by pushing the software until we would start to hear unwanted artifacts and then dialing back a bit, and then maybe a bit more. Interestingly, with the declipper we tended to push it a little harder for the best results. We even ran the audio through a UAD plug-in before the declipper and that yielded good results. So experimentation is very important.
The folks at iZotope have optimized RX3 to take advantage of multicore systems. Our 12 core Xeon test system was pushed to the max and yielded very good performance. Nice to see software like RX3 putting all those cores to work. What use to be an arduous task of cleaning up audio is now a simple batch process that can be done in minutes.
Izotope RX3 Advanced is one of those tools that is best used sparingly with the goal of improving the quality of the audio without giving it an overly processed sound, unless you're going for some sort of effect of course. Super clean is not better than what we would call sonically authentic. For example, we still prefer the sound of a clean FM radio signal to XM radio because of the compression used by XM. To our ears it just sounds bad. It's sterile, compressed and sad. With Izotope RX3 you can make your mixes claaner but still happy and bright. Taking the time to clean up your mix with a tool like Izotope RX3 is well worth the effort. It's an essential tool for post.
Here you can listen to a sample with and without using the RX3 noise reduction.