iZotope Alloy Six-Module Plug-In
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by Barry Rudolph
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iZotope Alloy Plug-In
iZotope Alloy Plug-In
iZotope Alloy Plug-In

After hearing that users were using iZotope's Ozone, a mastering plug-in, on tracks within their mixes, iZotope released Alloy, an individual audio track plug-in with six useful processors in one. The key to this fantastic processor is iZotope's unique take on what a channel strip plug-in could be--it is not just a bunch of "OK" plugs compiled into a single plug-in interface.

Alloy is for mixing and has some processors not found in Ozone including De-Essing, Vintage compression, Sidechaining, a new Harmonic Scaling Exciter, Transient Shaper, custom Macro Preset layouts and more.

Alloy's six modules in the order shown in the GUI are: Equalizer, Exciter, Transient, Dynamics, De-Esser, Exciter, and Limiter. There are over 150 Macro Presets included with Alloy that combine modules into custom configurations each with an overview layout. In addition, there are sets of 'easy-to-grab' controls of the most salient parameters for each module in the chain. Advanced users can build their own layouts and move modules around in the signal chain's sequence to customize the plug-in. The included presets are killer--there is even a preset for processing or optimizing vocals before pitch correction.

Any module(s) can be solo'd or bypassed at any time and all modules have specifically designed, real-time spectrum analyzer displays. Furthermore within each module are buttons that allow you to inspect the currently running signal chain with the ability to "drag and drop"--change the order of the six plug-ins on the fly. Finally, also in each processor section's GUI is an Options button to set or change the preferences of Alloy. You always have access to the look of the Graphics, the Host system settings (Alloy is part of the new wave of zero latency plug-ins), Spectrum analyzer setup, Meter ballistics, and the EQ/Dynamics/XOver page specifies the EQ, Dynamics and Crossover details.

Equalizer

The eight-band, fully parametric Equalizer features overlapping 20Hz to 20kHz frequency ranges for all eight bands and variable Qs go from 0.20 to 12 and with steep cuts to -30dB and boosts to +15dB. I found this EQ the best tonal carver yet in a plug-in--its sound reminds me of a very high-end hardware analog parametric costing thousands of dollars.

Exciter

The Exciter section runs either single band or multi-band (three-bands) with selectable crossover points. In either mode, you can select between Tube, Tape, Transistor, Warm or Bright excitation curves by way of a virtual joystick control. You can choose to increase the stereo width of each of the .three bands. On "stereo" acoustic guitars or stereo keyboards that are more mono than stereo, this is the perfect process to widen them out in frequency bands that fit better into the overall mix.

Transient

The Transient module is also both single band and multi-band with adjustable crossovers. You can adjust both the attack and release portions of audio envelopes and, with the multi-band version, only in the portions of the frequency spectrum you're interested in. I found this module excellent for bringing out the "percussiveness" of rhythm guitar tracks. The attack part of an aggressive guitar part sometimes gets lost in the track or by the compression effect of a loud guitar amp. By boosting the low frequency transients of a chugging rhythm part, I got the sound of a pair of Marshall stacks pushing air. Great sound that's now easy to get with Alloy!

Dynamics

The Dynamics section can run in Vintage mode with multi-stage release times and program dependent characteristics or in super pristine linear digital mode. I like the way the Expander/Gate section worked on shutting down smoothly on noisy guitar amps. There are soft knee, RMS and auto makeup gain modes plus multi-band operation. There are also two dynamic stages for parallel compression and the extensive side-chaining allows for external triggering of either the compressor or the gate. In multi-band, you can cross-chain to trigger dynamics on one band with audio from another (I'm trying this out soon!)

Read Barry's Mix Magazine Feature Article On Compression and Compressors

De-Esser

The De-Esser section is a single-channel de-esser with "handles" to adjust the frequency band to de-ess. I've already suggested to the iZotope guys that they should have continued with the same multi-band capability in this module as they do in the Dynamics module. I find that singers usually have more than one "S" frequency and putting multiple single band de-essers in a chain "chews up" the vocal sound too much for me. But having said that, Alloy's De-Esser is NOT the weakest link in the chain--it works well when set lightly.

Limiter

Last is the Limiter module. Unlike Ozone, this is a single-band limiter and the zero-latency means you can put it across multi-tracked drum kits without phase issues. You can use either the Brickwall mode for absolutely keeping track mix peaks under 0dBfs at all times or go with the soft mode for most instruments and vocals. The Phase Tools panel lets you optimize the symmetry of vocal and instrument waveforms to get more overall loudness.

Fantastic Plug-In

I found Alloy to be a fantastic plug-in that worked great for every track in my mixes. Whether is was a vocal, guitar, drum overheads or bass, it operated perfectly in my Pro Tools HD 3 rig running in a MAC PPC Quadcore and OS X 10.4.11. Alloy is compatible with VST, AU, RTAS/AudioSuite, MAS and DirectX hosts. Alloy sells for $249 MSRP and I can guarantee it will be the best $249 you'll ever spend on a plug-in! I strongly recommend this one--you'll love it! For more information, please visit www.izotope.com/.




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