Review: iZotope RX3 and RX3 Advanced Audio Restoration Suite

Three years since the release of RX2, iZotope have upgraded their acclaimed & unique audio suite with more speed and capabilities. Matthew Loel. T Hepworth dives in to see just how good RX3 really is.  

For several years, audio producers and forensic audio specialists alike have relied on iZotope RX to improve and even rescue damaged recordings. Now the team in Boston, MA have upgraded the suite to RX3, which has greatly improved a program that, for many, is an indispensable tool. Let's see what RX3 has to offer.


Installation and Application

RX3 is 32- and 64-bit compatible and cross-platform to run on both Mac computers (Snow Leopard and higher) and Windows-based PCs (XP and higher). It is compatible with the iLok, but can also be authorized via serial number without the need for hardware copy protection. It can run in trial mode for 10 days, providing prospective buyers with an unrestricted hands-on experience.

RX3 is a standalone application, or the restoration modules can run as plug-ins in Audio Unit, VST/VST3, RTAS/AudioSuite, and for the first time ever, AAX formats. This provides real-time RX3 processing in virtually any plug-in capable audio program.


Exploring the Interface

RX2, with its brushed aluminum module buttons and pinstripes, looked... well... a little campy. But the RX3 interface is a work of contemporary art, with all of the program elements integrated into one screen.

The RX3 interface.

The RX3 interface.


The largest part of the interface is the waveform/spectrogram display, which has a slider to balance each visual element. The zoom and selection tools are located below the timeline. To the right are the frequency and dB scales, which can both be zoomed to reveal more detail.

Also to the right are the Modules. Clicking a Module will reveal the associated restoration tool. Along the bottom, you'll find the time display, transport controls, VU meters, selection ranges, and the all-important undo list for auditioning '

Matthew Loel T. Hepworth

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MATTHEW LOEL T. HEPWORTH has been teaching music technology since 1984. The son of educators, he has the ability to thoughtfully instruct people to get the most from complicated music products and software. He authors the Cubase and WaveLab tutorials for macProVideo.com and authored several books including WaveLab 7 Power!, The Power i... Read More

Discussion

Chris Polus
Thanks Matthew.

I just learned from your article that the new modules Dialog Denoise and De-reverb are only available in the Advanced version of RX3, which disappoints me a bit. They made so much fuzz about these modules as new features for RX3, and now it's only available in the Advanced package, which is substantially more expensive.

I love RX2 and it saved many a file which was sent in my direction but it seems iZotope has changed their strategy. RX2 Advanced, which is almost 3.5 times more expensive than the normal RX2, was specifically for restoration specialists: Forensic applications, archivists, really special functionality for this user group with logging capabilities. At least that's how they marketed their advanced features back then. By now packing the cool new modules into only that Advanced version, iZotope basically seems to aggressively want to upsell people.

An upgrade to RX 3 Advanced costs about twice as much as people paid for RX2 full version. So what's new for people who just want to upgrade their normal versions? A new UI, statistic windows for RMS and peak levels, the new document format. All nice stuff, but nothing groundbreaking. Recording within RX3? Well, about every software package out there is able to do recording, so this was not really necessary as "feature". RX3 will not be my goto recorder. Their unique selling points are the new modules.

Also, iZotope putting the capability of applying plugins to audio selections into RX3, previously an Advanced only feature, isn't cutting it for me. Otherwise I would have bought Advanced before. I didn't need that feature then, so it's not a selling point for me personally. It seems like an excuse to have more meat in the normal RX3 upgrade. Let's just put a previously Advanced only feature into the normal version so it looks like more stuff.

RX3 is a great program and the UI overhaul is really nice! But paying for an upgrade for some eye candy and stats windows and leaving the REALLY new functions (unless you count UI as a function) to Advanced only, the package that's 3.5 times as expensive as the normal package is a little too aggressive from my point of view.
MattLTH
Hi, Chris, and thanks for writing a very thoughtful comment.

The price/performance ratio is something with which all capitalists have struggled. For example, a musician who shows up and plays the right notes is certainly marketable. But the one who shows up and adds essence and nuance that no other musician can will most likely (and certainly should) charge more for their services. How much more is be governed by various economic factors, not the least of which are demand and competition.

RX3 is certainly a powerful program, yet it has competitors in its price range. On the other hand, RX3 Advanced has virtually no competitors, and it's extra Modules (like the Dialogue Denoise and Dereverb) take years of research and development to perfect. That's probably the main reasons for a lack of competition: No one else has the requisite expertise and talent to create such unique signal processors. But the future is uncertain, and competitors are always lurking around every corner.

You and I have both pointed out that RX3 Advanced is an investment. But I feel that iZotope have created some truly revolutionary new Modules that are worthy of their price. (Actually, I feel that all software is under priced, but I digress.) Whether my opinion is accurate will be determined by market acceptance. But iZotope is also offering generous upgrade and first-time buyer discounts, and also bundling RX3 Advanced with their $499.00 Insight plug-in for free, thereby increasing the value of the package.

As consumers, we too are constantly weighing the price/performance ratio every time we lay down our hard-earned cash. Speaking only for myself, I'm a 'value hound.' I don't always buy (nor can I always afford) the most expensive item. But I ponder both the price/performance and cost/value ratios prior to every major purchase. That helps me get the most value for the least amount of money, which is the foundation of my investment philosophy.

While I'm quite sure iZotope will read your comment here, I strongly recommend you send it to them directly at support@izotope.com. They are a great company full of great people. They appreciate and respect the views of their customers and will likely respond thoughtfully.

Sincerely,

Matthew Loel T. Hepworth
The Logician
Excellent review Matthew. You cover all the bases and having used RX 1 Advanced in the past I am excited to upgrade and try this out on my next big post production project.

I agree. The price for RX3 is very modest and the features look to be aimed for most users. For those of us who need even the more "revolutionary" modules I'm prepared to spend extra. As a software developer myself, I know how much time and research can go into creating software. This is mostly not appreciated by consumers as the changes go more than skin deep!

Well done to iZotope for pushing the boundaries.

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