I guess you already heard of Iris, the most recent creation of the masterminds at iZotope. A spectral processing tool created specially for dealing with recorded material, being able to extract, combine and process all kinds of sounds based on visual representations of frequency, amplitude and time.
At this stage of the game, when we’ve clearly surpassed the limits of what we thought possible in terms of creating and manipulating sound digitally, it’s hard to find new tools that really worth to be purchased. Personally, I try to really question the need for a new tool before getting into it. Not only from the economic aspect, but from the sound palette already available to us, since more options also mean more things to have in mind when creating, and that’s not always great. It’s important to be simplistic in terms of the techniques, so you can be always focused on what’s really important: the emotion. With Iris, since it began to be announced, I was preparing for a pretty cool tool and that’s what I got.
I’d define it as pure magic. It’s something dedicated to the beauty of sculpting sound visually, being able not only to see the elements of field recordings and sound effects, but also being able to extract, isolate, combine, manipulate and control sonic material. Some musicians could find great value in this type of tool, but those deeply interested in sound design will completely love it. I’d say that I haven’t known anything like this before. I’ve been a true lover of the magic of iZotope RX spectral processing and before trying that piece of software, I worked with different kinds of noise removal tools, but the RX engine really impressed me. Every part of that application is a wonder, and their users will understand when I talk about being amazed with the spectral extraction tools specifically. These magical tools, capable of extracting material were very useful at the moment.
When the Iris rumor started, I immediately thought: if they make a synth based on RX, would be a complete success. And indeed it was. Although the market already offers a good variety of synths and samplers, some of these also based on spectral analysis and so on, there wasn’t something like Iris available. There has been similar tools like MetaSynth, PhotoSounder or Alchemy, which have shown immense potential using spectral/re-synthesis techniques. But Iris is totally fresh, new, it’s something that did not exist before, and although it has similarities to the aforementioned and other products on the market, is not comparable.
Perhaps for a more traditional musician purposes Iris would be just another tool of the bunch, but for someone dedicated to process field recordings, design sound effects or do any kind of sample-based sound works, this is a gift. It’s really fun to see and listen to how Iris revolutionizes the way you work. Why? Because its visual approach to sound combined with the performance options, not previously found elsewhere, at least on the things I’ve used. And not only talking about the sonogram, but also the way layers are combined, how you can process them and the particular expression you get from the instrument. Actually there videos you can find on the web, its descriptions and even appearance of the instrument itself does not tell one bit of what I feel with it. Just spend some minutes processing field recordings, and you realize how exciting it really is.