Testing out the iZotope Neutron plugin

I tested in Cubase 9 Pro today, macOS Sierra with my Mac Pro trashcan. It's a clean install since I upgraded to Sierra last week. Some notes after a one-hour session on a somewhat light project (2 instances of Kontakt, 1 of Massive, 2 instances of Stutter Edit - about 9 tracks total loaded with Neutron):

 

iZotope Neutron comparing 2 tracks for possible frequency masking

iZotope Neutron comparing 2 tracks for possible frequency masking


Track Assistant managed to do a few things I hadn't considered with a few tracks. On the whole it guessed bass and percussion great. It thought some of the Stutter Edit stuff I was doing was guitar, so close enough. Piano on the mid-high register with a lot of reverb it kind of shrugged on but cut the low end and raised the highs. The EQ curves it assigned were not 100% spot on but with a dense project I could see an argument for it if you're pressed for time or want to learn WHY it's making those choices in those situations. A good learning tool! 

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to the masking feature and if you plan on using Neutron heed this advice: Keep everything clearly labeled
This is beginner stuff but I'm lazy, so this older project I was using had tracks labeled "Audio 01" and "MIDI 03". Not a big deal for me but when you start loading instances of Neutron into a project, it names them "Neutron 1" etc depending on which tracks you put Neutron on first. So when I put Neutron on my bass on MIDI 01 and then on my pad on Audio 06, it named the instances within Neutron "Neutron 1" and "Neutron 2" when I went into the masking part. You can rename each instance of Neutron on the top left corner of the plugin window and the instance will take that name globally. I'd strongly recommend naming your tracks, then making sure your Neutron instances get named exactly the same to spare confusion.

As for the actual masking function, it's great. Just make sure you're thorough about checking everything. You can only A/B with Neutron, so only two sources at a time - at least that's what it looked like to me while using it earlier today. So a kick and a bass you can check for sure, but a kick and a bass and a low tom you should def use your ears to make sure things don't sound funny. It was easy with two sources to see where the muddiness was cropping up in my project.

As I flesh out the track I was using with it more, I'll have more input for sure. I did a test export of the track so far so that I can A/B that with what I would consider the finished project.

Also I forgot to mention - and this could be Sierra, Cubase 9 Pro, my setup or Neutron itself - I noticed my CPU started getting loaded with about 9 instances of this. I was hearing some crackling too but it could have been that I haven't set my latency yet in the app. I wasn't expecting it to go easy on the processing but the reviews I've read all say that it was a light load. I have one of those crazy workhorse Mac Pros w/64GB of RAM and the processing was up around 60-70% with what I'd consider a light project (~10 tracks with some FX).

Release Music Magazine overview of ROTOR Rewired

From my friends over at Release Music Magazine:

Release first caught on to Digital Geist in early 2003. This electronic music project from Fairfield, Connecticut has pressed on a with a few releases and multiple remixes. 

Digital Geist is an enduring project that was spawned in an 1999 viewing of the sci-fi cult film “R.O.T.O.R.” (1987) by Cullen Blaine. The aim was to recreate the badly composed mono voice and background music.

Digital Geist’s Alex K brought forward this idea and has created an entirely new audio experience to the cinematic background of film. It is being offered as a limited edition video with separate music clips on a branded USB stick.

- Since Digital Geist has done mostly instrumental music anyway, it became a really fun challenge by the end and the ROTOR project has inspired me to try this type of audio/video approach again in the future, says Alex, who’s daytime job is post-production engineer.

I Die : You Die reviews ROTOR Rewired

A full length review from my friends over at http://www.idieyoudie.com/ on the ROTOR Rewired project:

If you haven’t had the pleasure, R.O.T.O.R. is a 1989 b-grade Robocop rip-off, a movie bad enough that it earned its very own Rifftrax commentary. Exactly what possessed Digital Geist’s Alex Kourelis to approach rescoring a such a dubious piece of artwork isn’t clear, although the results are intriguing. Far from the synthwave sound you might expect from a project like R.O.T.O.R. Rewired, the new Digital Geist score plays out as techno-industrial stylistically, with touches of cinematic ambience and classic IDM thrown into the mix.

It should be noted that R.O.T.O.R. Rewired is a ludicrously complete score. Far from being a simple hook for the record and source of samples, literally every scene of the movie has been it’s own musical cue, more than 42 in total. For those questioning how literally these act as the film’s score, you can buy a limited-to-100-pieces USB with the rescored movie direct from Digital Geist’s website. It’s an achievement purely in terms of ambition, the kind of demented passion project that transcends being a gimmick by virtue of care and dedication.

Of course the majority of listeners will experience it as an album free from the visuals it’s built to accompany. Happily, a large number of the tracks function well as songs unto themselves, although the frequent use of dialogue keep the source material close at hand. Interestingly, the stilted, poorly delivered dialogue becomes a kind accompaniment to the rapidly firing sequences and propulsive drum patterns that propel some of the more substantial pieces. “Fired” and “Straight Nitro” work especially well in this regard, buffeted on both sides by short interstitial tracks, they come out of the gates fully primed for action. There’s also an element of squiggly, chirping acid that pops up on “God Save Us All” and “What This Means to Each One of Us”, a retro future element of the compositions that feels entirely appropriate.

As you might expect the best way to experience R.O.T.O.R. Rewired is as a whole, as each tightly woven piece relies on careful sequencing to tell the story. Many of the shorter pieces are simple bits of sound design, effectively using some very unnatural textures to off-set the imagery being summoned by the voices woven into each piece. It’s interesting stuff in the range it displays, never going down the rabbit hole of full on portentuous movie score, but occasionally touching on broader soundtracking ideas with effective emotional swells and sinister textures. It’s odd to consider how functional this music is made to be when (presumably for copyright reasons) very few people will actually ever consume it in the context it was built for. That idea is engaging enough on its own to carry the listener through a few playthroughs, assembling a mental picture of a movie as refracted through a specific artist’s lens.

There’s a weird dignity in how dedicated to R.O.T.O.R. the whole project is, an acknowledgement that despite being a genuinely terrible movie, there was something about it that one artist found inspiring enough to dedicate several years to it. R.O.T.O.R. Rewired gets top points for concept and execution, as slick and clever as its inspiration is clunky and dumb. Interesting stuff.

Read the review on their site here.