Field Report: iZotope Insight

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During a busy NAB Show this year, I attended a session on loudness specific to TV engineers concerned about the CALM act. So what was I, a radio engineer doing there? It's simple: I don't trust machines. In this case, machines being the needles or LED lights that bounce up and down on our audio consoles. Over the years I've learned the difference between electrical amplitude measurement and perceived loudness. Granted, the radio industry has long had a better grip on loudness control and processing than our TV counterparts. But, in the production studio, especially in critical scenarios where music mastering is of concern, are VU and PPM meters really showing us how loud our mixdowns are? You can decide for yourself, after a brief introduction to iZotope's brand new Insight plugin.

Sadly, tried-and-true metering lacks the ability to show us the nuances of audio mixing. Much more is involved in audio mastering than amplitude levels. iZotope Insight has a complete lineup of mind-blowing meters that have changed the metering game. Insight works as a Direct-X, VST or VST3 plugin on most DAWs and non-linear editing software. It has endless presets that allow the user to see metering scenarios for different environments. I'll start with a description of each meter.

Not your mother's meter bridge

Out of the box, Insight is loaded with metering settings divided into three categories: audio analysis, loudness metering and music production. Within these default settings are numerous metering layouts that display user-customizable windows for displaying each of the meters. Insight works as a real-time plugin and floats on top of current workspace. Increased multiple-screen desktop space is encouraged. Each default preset includes momentary, short term and integrated level meters that appear as garden variety LEDs. The difference, however, lies in each meter's behavior.

  Performance at a glance  
  ■ Various level stats in one view
■ Multiple metering styles in one plug-in
■ Displays potential mix problems
■ Shows loudness history
■ Customizable views

The momentary meter measures levels over a period of 400ms. The short-term meter measures over a period of three seconds and the integrated meter uses complex algorithms enforced by loudness standards (legislated by the United States, EU or Japan, depending on the setting used) to calculate loudness over and indefinite period of time. Insight provides presets for television broadcast and production found in the Loudness Metering section, and for radio, those may be somewhat irrelevant. They are, however, usable to establish a perceived loudness measurement that supersedes the measuring abilities of standard VU and PPM meters. The Audio Analysis and Music Production default settings provide the same aforementioned metering and will be more at home in a radio production environment.

- continued on page 2

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