Review: iZotope Insight
Thoughts by Ian Palmer:
Anyone who knows me will know that 4 years on I am still madly in love with iZotope’s RX noise reduction package. So it is rather exciting to see what else this company can do. I had high hopes for this meter after hearing about its launch. If only I could do this review in three words, as in “It’s bloody good”!
Just to note, that I am reviewing Insight on an iMac running OSX 10.7.4 with ProTools 10.3.3, in stereo and from the point of view of a Dubbing Mixer in Europe using the forthcoming R128 mixing specifications.
Installing and registering the plugin is very simple and straightforward, as was finding it in the Sound Field folder. I easily located the preset folder and changed the settings to R128. Or BS ITU1770 Loudness Meter with History Graph EU. It’s easy enough to add my own presets and name them, but for the inexperienced I think the names could be simplified.
I really like the UI of Insight. Whilst it is busy, it is also easy to navigate quickly. It is customisable so that you can also make it as crowded or simple as you wish. The display options are Levels, Loudness History, Spectrum Analyser, Sound Field and a Spectrogram. It’s really interesting to see things that previously I had to listen for, like a mix being bass heavy. Tis is useful for those of us in smaller rooms and with smaller speakers wher such things can be difficult to hear. I welcome the phase meter in the Sound Field, something lacking from the likes of Waves’ WLM. The Loudness History gives you the ability to quickly identify where in a mix a problem might lie. Clicking on the plus button expands (any) the display where you can take a screenshot or even copy a very long list of measurements. Great for attaching to a mix delivery to placate those evil number crunching bureaucrats in QC.
Using the meter is simple enough, although the weighting looks quite light so it’s not the easiest meter for finding your place on to get the all important -23LUFS reading. Life is made slightly simpler by using it in conduction with the “S” meter which has a heavier ballistic and displays the last three seconds.
Insight comes with an additional plugin called Meter Tap. It’s possible to show any track on the Spectrogram, or any combination of tracks. So, if you want to see how the VO is working with the Music, you can easily set that up. Now, I’m not sure how practically useful this is, but then I’ve never used this idea before to find a good use for it.
Insight is selling for $500 on the iZotope store, this puts it right in the middle of its competitors. It certainly has more features than some, but of course for a slightly higher price. I feel that a simple, cut down version with an option to upgrade could benefit some user with smaller budgets and don’t have the need of things like Spectrograms.
To conclude, I think this an excellent meter. It’s a shame that it’s not quite as exciting for us Dubbing Mixers as it will be for the mixers of music who I think will benefit greatly from all the bells and whistles.
Thoughts by Jack Menhorn:
Insight is certainly comprehensive in it’s suite of metering and analysis tools. In my short time with the product it is quite easy to tell it is an iZotope product. Everything is polished, solid and works very smoothly. I was super excited and surprised to see presets built in for video game console and handheld console audio. A little touch that shows developers paying attention to my side of the world like that gives me the warm and fuzzies.
I am tempted just a little bit to get a third monitor just to have Insight on and have it constantly running so that I can feel like some supervillan at his supervillan console thingy. (I dont know what they call an evil Bat-Computer). As Ian said, Insight’s UI is quite busy and can get full of: a Sound Field, Spectrogram, History, Analyser and Levels boxes rather quickly. Fortunately you will rarely if ever need all them open at once, and iZotope has made it very easy to show and hide each box rather quickly.
Insight does it’s job superbly and efficiently enough for my needs that I do not have any major complaints. My only possible issues are purely aesthetic. It is very, very green which while not harmful to the eyes; is not one of the most pleasing of hues in my opinion. I do like how resizable the plugin window is; but I would prefer if it could resize a bit smaller so that when I just want the Loudness Meter up I could have it tucked in a corner somewhere that doesn’t take up precious screen real-estate.
Like Ian, I definitely recommend Insight. Unlike Ian, I am indeed excited for all of the bells and whistles my music and sound design work can throw at it.