Field Report: iZotope Insight
From an audio analysis perspective, Insight features a 3D Spectogram crawl or waterfall. This psychedelic display shows audio response on a colorful three-dimensional real-time plane that shows sound as it happens with what harmonics are present and their amplitude. The spectrogram essentially draws a picture between 100Hz and 20kHz, or a selectable range. As the audio file is played, the display begins to appear as a mountainous Martian landscape. Brightly colored peaks indicate a higher response than a darker, cooler color. The 3D Spectogram draws the history of frequency and amplitude response as it happens. If it looks too psychedelic, a familiar spectrum analyzer is also available that shows RMS and peak frequency response.
The Averaging Spectrum Analyzer holds the response curve over the frequency range, and shows the constant state of the audio as it is played out. In a situation where an individual track from a mixing session needs analysis, Meter Taps allow the user to route specified audio tracks to Insight. This is useful when isolating one source track for analysis is necessary instead of listening to the entire mix.
Insight also draws a Wall of Sound that looks very akin to spectrum displays found in many editing platforms. As opposed to a waveform, the Wall of Sound shows the audio response in a colorful 30Hz to 20kHz scroll. Much like the 3D Spectogram, the hotter colors represent more amplitude at a certain frequency.
Intense music production
If production suffers in any way the most, it's from inconsistency. An engineer's mood, head congestion or environment can dictate what kind of sound he or she is producing. While best efforts are made in uniform referencing standards and DAW and console presets, mixing and mastering is by nature very subjective. To ward off inconsistent production levels that may ebb and flow over time, Insight allows the user to create pre-defined parameters in which levels must remain. Alarms will alert the user when parameters have been breached.
While the integrated LUFS meter operates within confines of legislation concerning television perceived loudness, the meter is actually very helpful in music and radio production in that it shows the pattern of loudness from the start of an audio clip to the end. For example, the first few seconds of a popular music track played with Insight monitoring real-time begins with a level of -13.2 LUFS (loudness units relative to full digital scale). The waveform seemingly indicates consistent mastering all the way through. However, by the end of the song, we're seeing -8.0 LUFS. The perceived loudness of the song increased considerably over the duration of the track. Insight will bring to light this kind of information by way of using loudness targets that allow producers to achieve consistent loudness goals over the duration of one project or several.
Stereo imaging and phase control are vital aspects of audio production for radio TV production folks alike. Insight's Sound Field uses several different display schemes on a 180-degree field to show where audio is present in relation to left and right. The sound field can also be used for 5.1 surround monitoring. If audio is out of phase, too far left or too far right, Sound Field will display it by way of real-time animated lobes or a spray of pixels that dot the graph, giving a spectacular image of stereo placement.
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Insight's metering can be toggled between dB and dBFS. Buffers can be set to optimize CPU usage during real-time metering. The Loudness Overflow Automation feature can be utilized with DAWs to mark on a track when loudness parameters were exceeded. This is a major time saver and indicator of where level infractions happened per the user's loudness targets. Additionally, the Preset Manager offers several starting points for Insight's metering displays and customized user presets can also be saved and recalled. iZotope's Insight is a handy tool for any production team that is concerned with creating consistency and maximizing perceived loudness. As a plug-in that hangs out nicely with software and DAWs, Insight goes the extra mile to deliver top-quality mastered audio to listeners.
Wygal is the programmer and engineer for Victory FM at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA.
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