Platforms: PC & Mac
Description: Audio Restoration Software
MSRP: $349 RX3; $1199 RX3 Advanced
Expected Release: Available Now
Official Website: http://www.izotope.com
Demo: Click Here
Special Discount: Click Here
Review Issue: Issue #99 (06/14)
Review By: Gabe Gibitz
Final Score: 9.8
Nearly three years ago, I reviewed a fabulous piece of audio restoration software from iZotope called RX2. The capabilities of this program to repair audio at the listed price point astounded me. Then, as if being an industry leader in their field weren’t enough, the folks at iZotope decided to put their own product to shame and release RX3, the latest and greatest in audio repair software. There literally is no match to this product on the market today (while Waves and Sonic Solutions make audio restoration bundles that are more robust, pricing for them starts at $1,500). I’ve done countless comparisons of noise-reduction and restoration software, and this is your best option without spending a small fortune — no questions asked.
The winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development, RX3 operates on both Windows and Mac platforms and is compatible with all major audio and video programs (Pro Tools, GarageBand, Logic, Final Cut Pro and Premiere – just to name a few). Users can choose from a myriad of repair tools within the plug-in like Declip, Declick, Remove Hum, and Denoise. In addition to these features, RX3 Advanced adds specialized features like Dereverb, Dialogue Denoiser (which is utterly shocking) and much more.
For those who own RX2, new tools, enhanced workflow and a redesigned user interface make this a nice step up from its predecessor. I highly recommend the upgrade.
Ease of Use
Within seconds of installing and opening the program, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the RX3 interface underwent an overhaul. iZotope has been doing this with all of their products over the past few years, and I love that RX3 was a part of this UI (user interface) switch.
Here are just a few highlights of this new version that make it easier to use:
- Powerful batch processing options make multi-step processes a breeze, particularly if they are going to be performed on multiple files.
- Better-than-ever drag and drop of files, making importing files even easier.
- Tabbed windows (like your typical internet browser) that allow multiple files to be open at one time.
- Dozens of keyboard shortcuts, plus the ability to create custom options to suit your specific needs.
These improvements move RX3 forward as an intuitive and even easier to use program—which is very helpful for non-audio people who might need to use it. [Editor’s Note: For video people, RX2 had a pretty high learning curve. I personally found it to be MUCH higher than any other plugin iZotope made at the time, so it’s great that the new version is working on that.]
Depth of Options
RX3’s tools are called Modules and grouped into two categories: Repair and Utility. Repair is where the noise reduction and correction tools reside. Utility includes Gain, Equalizer, Channel Operations, plus a Time and Pitch module. Let’s highlight how some of these interact in RX3.
This lifesaver repairs audio that has been recorded with the gain too high. In my experience of recording audio for film, this used to be a show-stopper before iZotope’s RX line was released. Now, I can restore what used to be unusable audio without anyone ever knowing the difference.
To give you an idea of how important this can be, a few years back, we were filming an emotional scene between two actors, and, in the midst of them shouting, some lines of dialog became too loud and distorted the recording. At the time, we used some other plugins and came out with a fix that was alright, but which I was never pleased with. Today, using RX3, it took less than a minute to repair the clipped audio, and now it sounds as if the distortion had never been there to begin with!
Declick & Decrackle
This is a go-to tool for cleaning up transfers from old vinyl records or or a cellphone call. In some cases, it can be used to reduce the amount of glottal noises or lip smacking in voice-over recordings.
This is, by far, my favorite and most-used tool in this program. It is very useful for more complex types of noise like HVAC and appliance noises, fan noise, buzz from fluorescent lighting or dimmers–especially if you didn’t have a good audio set up to start with. For one film awhile back, I had a bad mic setup where I “saved” the scene from having to be reshot by taking more than 20 dB of noise out in post-production with RX2. RX3’s is even better.
The advanced version includes a Dialogue tab to access a denoiser specifically designed to clean up dialog in real time. It’s really quite amazing, and I see it saving folks tons of time and money by reducing the amount of ADR (automated dialog replacement) necessary for a project. If you’re cleaning up dialogue, start here, then go back and see if anything requires further work – it could save you hours.
This tool shines when reducing or removing specific frequencies and sounds at a given time in a film clip. For example, we had an outdoor dialog scene that went great, but there was a bird that ruined a specific take. After pinpointing where it was coming from, I was able to remove it almost instantaneously! Very simple and very effective.
Dereverb (Advanced version only)
Reduce (or increase) reverberation on your audio clips with a never-before-seen degree of control. I’ve already found so many uses for this module! Just as defringing tools help the special effects artist composite greenscreen footage into a scene, Dereverb help you composite audio elements into a pre-existing environment seamlesslessly.
Problems with dialogue having too much room noise? Tighten it up with this tool! Or maybe you have a dog barking in the background and you’d like it to sound farther away — push the slider the other direction and this module will increase the natural reverberation in the recording – no more going through countless tweaks with a reverb effect in an effort to match the sound of the reverb you’re adding.
I am downright amazed – shocked at times – at how well RX3 performs. Even common tools like EQ are super clean, with no discernible phase distortion at extreme settings. The Pitch and Time module is one of my favorites. It’s my go-to module for pitch and time correction –over all my other DAW and 3rd party tools.
CPU usage is quite efficient, considering everything that’s going on under the hood. The quality setting in the more CPU-intensive modules allows you to playback or preview in real-time, even if it’s too much for your computer to use the higher-quality settings in real time. If it’s inserted as a real-time plugin, you don’t need to feel like you’re getting sub-standard quality because even the lowest quality settings are quite good. If, on the other hand, you’re processing clips of audio offline (non-realtime) then you can use the lower quality settings to preview your settings, switching to highest quality when you’re ready to process. Also, the RX3 standalone app is optimized to use every CPU core available, chewing through CPU-intensive processes very quickly even at the highest-quality settings.
I hope as you read through this review that you grasp the power of this program. This – more than any of iZotope’s programs – is a must-have in the audio arsenal of a filmmaker—or at least, in the arsenal of your audio engineer. Any film that I have a hand in creating, RX3 is the first tool I open up every time. For most Indie film productions, this program will pay for itself in one afternoon of filming.
With that said, the jump from RX3 to RX3 Advanced is definitely not an easy decision to make, but the dialog denoiser and dereverb are worth trying out on some problem areas with your next film to see if they will save you the time that they are worth. Most filmmakers will find that it will be more than worth the effort and expense.
This award-winning audio restoration software is turning heads—especially with the Advanced version. Whether it’s an all-new dialog denoiser or the ability to dereverb an audio track–which I didn’t think was possible!–RX3 will take your film audio to the next level. If you’re already in a situation where you’re trying to salvage audio that wasn’t recorded under the best of circumstances to begin with, then you’ll want to order this immediately. It may not only save your film, but help take it to the next level of professionalism. All for a fraction of the price of similar software. Bravo, iZotope. Bravo.
Ease of Use
Depth of Options
Value vs. Cost