Review: iZotope’s New RX 3 Tools

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RX_3_Advanced_comboA few years ago, I was the re-recording mixer on MTV’s The Challenge: The Island and I nearly lost my sanity trying to clean up the production dialogue tracks. It seemed every audio clip from an exterior shot was plagued by the incessant chirping of what I assumed to be the world’s largest orchestra of crickets. I spent hours trying to take out their noise, but nothing had much effect.

So when iZotope came out with their RX 2 Audio Repair bundle, I felt as if I had been thrown a life preserver. With the Denoiser, Spectral Repair, and other modules, I could take out not just crickets, but electrical hum, car alarms, and air conditioner noise with relative ease and little artifacting.

Now iZotope has released their RX 3 and RX 3 Advanced bundles, both with updated versions of the repair modules from RX 2, and two new ones exclusive to the RX 3 Advanced: Dialogue Denoiser and Dereverb. The Declipper, Declicker, Decrackler, and Hum Removal worked well in RX 2 and continue to do so in RX 3 without much change, though the results tend to sound a little smoother.

The Denoiser is similar as well, though it seems more powerful. My user default reduction curve in the RX 2 Denoiser Modular was at 18.4, but with the RX 3 version, I’ve found a 10.3 curve setting gives me a similar reduction in the background noise.

For me, the biggest improvement in the updated modules is in the Spectral Repair tool. In RX 2, the module allowed the user to repair only 10 seconds of audio at a time. That meant that to remove background noise throughout a three minute scene, there were about 20 chunks I had to repair and process. However, in the RX 3 version, the user can repair up to 45 seconds of audio at a time, depending on the bit rate. At 48k, I found I could grab 40 second chunks of dialogue, or only about 5 sections in a three minute scene.

In addition to the updated tools from the RX 2 bundle, the RX 3 Advanced bundle comes with two new repair modules: Dialogue Denoiser and Dereverb. The Dialogue Denoiser automatically analyzes the background noise on your tracks and gives you real time noise reduction as you play down. I’ve been using it on my current show and it seems to help… a little. Its reduction curve doesn’t respond as quickly as I would like and is not as specific as I need, and neither response time nor resolution quality are adjustable. Hopefully, there’s an update to the software in the future.

Dialogue Denoiser

The Dialogue Denoiser in action

The types of noise it does reduce are along the lines of a loud room tone or airy movement, which, for the shows I work on, are generally covered by the music of the episode anyway. It didn’t eliminate my need to use the Denoiser or Spectral Repair tools on any of the noisy clips in my show. However, I did have a scene with no music and the Dialogue Denoiser did help eliminate some of the slapback and movement sounds in the scene. This module would be beneficial for use on podcasts, or if you’re mixing a presentation at a conference. But for any project that uses wall-to-wall music, the benefit seems minor.

The other tool exclusive to the RX 3 Advanced package is the Dereverb. If you’ve ever had to work with poorly recorded ADR or voice over, you know how impossible it can be to make it match production tracks if there’s any reverb in the recording. But with the Dereverb tool, matching the recordings has become much easier. I’ve used it to take the reverb out of a poorly recorded ADR track that was a little too live compared to my production tracks, and I’ve done the reverse and used it to take reverb out of the production tracks to help match a very dry and dead ADR line.

While the tool certainly does not provide a perfect match, it does make the transition from production to ADR much smoothe. If you don’t have an RX Audio Repair bundle, and you ever need to clean up dialogue from the field, I highly recommend purchasing the RX 3 package (MSRP: $349). If you currently have the RX 2 bundle, I recommend upgrading to the RX 3 bundle, though the tools you have in the RX 2 are certainly good enough, so upgrading isn’t essential. However, I think it’s hard to justify spending $800 more to purchase the RX 3 Advanced bundle (MSRP: $1199), for just the additional Dialogue Denoiser, Dereverb, and Insight Audio Metering Suite tools.

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