Mixing your own recordings is a skill that is built over time. Looking to minimize the confusion? Give Neutron a shot.

Once you have your recordings in your DAW and you’ve done your basic edits (cutting, trimming, moving, etc.) to get the core track the way that you want it, you’re going to need to do the mixing work for each track. Learning to mix is a different skill from learning to record, and also different from mastering which is putting all your mixes together and finalizing the song.

iZotope makes plugins, like many other plugin makers. They take a slightly different approach that is very beneficial to people learning to mix.

Plugins, plugins, so many plugins…

When we start out we have some idea of which kinds of plugins we will likely want to use in our mixing workflow. We might need a noise gate to cut hiss or pickup noise, or just the basic squeaks on strings as we move to get started playing or finish recording. We will typically want some kind of equalization of a more precise nature than a tone knob or even graphic EQ where we can be very selective of what is happening and be able to choose different types of equalizer functions, such as highpass filters, notch filters, low and high shelf filters and even dynamic EQ. These are all wonderful tools, but if you are already cringing a bit at all the wording, I get it, stay with me. You will also know of compression and the varying types of compressors but not yet understand which kind of compression suits what task. You could also be aware of Exciters, that exist to put some punch or pop into a track.

Now you could buy a bunch of different plugins and use the old experimental trial and error model, which can be very effective if not time consuming and often frustrating, or you could look at a tool like Neutron 4, which brings those pieces into a single interface and also provides scalable control so you can learn what each does at your own pace, and also learn how they work together and how you order them changes things.

Izotope Neutron

Your own personal assistant

A big newcomer to Neutron is the Assistant View and this is the one feature that first got my attention. It becomes the main window from where you apply basic changes to analyzed tracks – more precisely, applying Punch, Distort and Width.

You can use the Assistant as the starting point, letting it build a proposal. Then you can go into each module and tweak it again and again, trying different options with the Compare option. You can also turn individual modules on and off to determine if the module is even making a difference.

There are also plenty of presets within each module if you want to try that route. I like that the presets have useful names that tell you what they are going to deliver. Again you can start with a preset and tweak it to your preference. It’s your music so you get to decide.

It’s all about you…

When you want to try things all on your own, you can also choose the modules that you want to use and put them in the order that suits you best. You can follow guidelines or not, you are completely free to do what you want. In this case you could start a module from a preset, or sculpt the module effect entirely while you are listening to your track loop. When you start doing this, it takes more time, but you really get a great handle on what does what, and why you might want to do something.

There are probably thousands of plugins out there. Constantly trying out the latest and greatest is not only counterproductive, but just exhausting.

I found Neutron clean, well organized and user friendly. It has an improved idiot-mode functionality that makes life easier for idiots like me (and professionals as well I imagine).

The results can be appreciated almost immediately. Newbies might benefit in ways that they can’t fully appreciate, but there is still plenty to allow experienced pros to be in full control. So, we’ve got joy for both amateurs and professionals.