iZotope RX Review for the DIY Podcaster

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"Noise Reduction" is a term that is thrown around quite a bit these days – especially in the booming industry that is podcasting.

A detailed, yet simplified iZotope RX review of tools for podcast editing. Read on to find which version is best for you.

Did you know noise reduction is just one possible step on the path to a great sounding edit? The sheer options available to you can feel overwhelming, though. What exactly do you all need?

Let’s face it, companies write their product descriptions like fancy sales pitches. These can leave a person even more overwhelmed as to what the product actually does.  But fear not! I’ll take you on a tour of the industry favourite, iZotope RX, a one-stop-shop for all your voice editing needs.  In this article I will:

  • Breakdown the different versions of iZotope’s RX relevant to podcasters
  • Review the iZotope RX tools that are relevant to podcasters
  • Cover some basic tips and tricks to help you on your way
iZotope RX Editor User Interface
iZotope RX Editor User Interface

RX Elements for Podcasts

The tools in this version of iZotope RX that are relevant to podcasters for more advanced editing are:

  • De-click
  • De-Clip
  • Gain
  • Normalize
  • Spectrogram
  • Phase
  • Mixing
  • Voice De-Noise
  • Static De-Hum

Over the years iZotope has been adding more features to their RX Elements tier.  The tools are still quite basic, but they’ll get the job done for a quick clean-up. 

Some DAWs are adopting these features to be included in their software like Adobe Audition or Reaper.  I would suggest buying into their ‘Elements’ tier during a sale. It can also be a stepping stone for a more affordable upgrade path to their Standard tier. iZotope is known to have great cross-grade deals on the regular.

RX Standard for Podcasts

The tools in this version of iZotope RX that are relevant to podcasters for more advanced editing are:

  • Everything listed above in RX Elements section
  • Dynamic De-Hum
  • Breath Control
  • De-Crackle
  • De-reverb
  • De-ess
  • De-Plosive
  • Mouth De-click
  • Spectral De-noise
  • Spectral Repair
  • Loudness Control

For a podcaster, iZotope RX standard gives the best bang for your buck.  You’ll be fully equipped for just about any issue to edit.  I won’t break down their Advanced tier.  Aside from Dialogue Isolate (amazing tool as it may be), the other modules most likely won’t be utilized enough to justify the price in a podcast-only edit space.

The full list of modules for each version can be viewed on iZotope RX’s product page.

iZotope RX Review: Elements Relevant Tools Breakdown

De-click

Removes clicks due to discontinuous waveforms, analogue clicks, certain thumps, digital clicks, and mouth clicks.

Practical examples of when to use are:

  • Discontinuous waveform = bad edit with no fades
  • Analogue clicks = think vinyl
  • Digital clicks = DAW or interface caused error
  • Certain thumps: mic stand thump if duration was short
  • Mouth clicks: high-frequency spit or lower frequency clicks from tongue
podcasting wizard

De-clip 

De-clip attempts to “redraw” peaks that have been squared off from distortion. This might be used if the gain was too high for your recording levels and you clipped.

Gain

Gain isn’t to be confused with volume. It increases or decreases the signal of the waveform. If recording levels are too low you can increase the gain after recording so you can properly hear any issues that need editing. You can also decrease the gain if a word or phrase is too loud to match the surrounding audio.

Normalization   

Normallization increases or decreases audio level by a fixed amount. It can be used to reach a final target output “volume”.

Spectrogram     

Spectrogram gives a visual representation of a waveform consisting of all frequency content and their harmonics. This shows you more information about a recording than just a waveform and helps pinpoint issues that are easier to edit out.

Phase   

Adaptive phase rotation makes a waveform more symmetrical. Have you ever seen a waveform where the top of the waveform is significantly “taller” than the bottom or vice versa? This will fix that in one click.

Mixing 

Will convert a true stereo file to mono without artifacts. For example, a remote guest records with a Zoom handy-recorder which records in a stereo XY pattern. But, you need their file in mono so their voice is centered and not drifting between left and right.

Voice De-Noise

This can be set to automatically adapt the noise profile to reduce the amount of noise in a recording. The type of noise are things are fans, HVAC, heaters – anything that can be like “white noise”

A frustrated podcaster recording in an echoey cavern.

Static De-Hum

Removes non-changing electric-based hum. Your phone, wifi, computer’s parts, and other electronics can interfere by creating hums in your recordings. Static De-Hum will attempt to remove them

iZotope RX Review: Standard Podcast Relevant Tools Breakdown

Dynamic De-Hum            

Same as static but when the hums aren’t staying consistent. You might use this if you’re getting multiple cases of EMI and RFI at the same time in your recording.

Breath Control 

This lowers or silences breaths.  Breath Control can take some of the manual work out of lowering extraneous breaths that may be unpleasant to the ear. Use this with caution, though, as it can easily degrade the vocals and do more harm than good.

De-Crackle         

Removes crackles/gravelly sounding audio. Once you de-clip distorted audio there can be harshness left from the distortion. De-crackle can soften or remove this. It also works on vinyl crackles.

De-Reverb          

De-Reverb attempts to reduce the “colour”/tone of the room from the recording. Think of how your voice sounds in a parking garage as an extreme example. Always try to fix reverb at the source by creating a treated environment.

De-Ess 

De-Ess reduces sibilance that can be harsh or affect the intelligibility of the voice.  Using your handy dandy spectrogram you can visually see a very bright colour in the 5k-9k range where “s” sounds are too strong to apply as needed

De-Plosive         

Reduces or removes “popping” plosives. An emergency for when your pop filter has failed you. You’ll hear a low airy thump and or a strong click over Ps, Bs, Ks,Ds, Ts, but De-Plosive can soften them.

Mouth De-Click

Reduces or removes clicks originating from the mouth. For example, you can hear the spit clicking or in some cases sloshing around the mouth. This can also be from movement from the tongue itself.

Spectral De-Noise           

Similar to voice De-Noise except it uses a “spectral” noise profile for learning noise to clean up. Also has an automatic setting. You might use this if you recorded with your window open on a blustery day with a fan floor fan on while the HVAC system kicked in.

Spectral Repair 

This is surgery for audio editing. Birds, dog barks, certain traffic sounds and more can be attempted to be manually removed. Success depends on a case by case scenario.

iZotope RX Spectral Repair Example
iZotope RX Spectral Repair Example

Loudness Control            

LC uses the loudness scale (LUFS) to alter the perceived loudness of audio to the desired target. For example, your distribution channel for your podcast may recommend having your episode at -14LUFS or -16LUFS.

iZotope RX Review for Podcasters: Five Basic Tips & Tricks

1. Order Over Chaos

Inside the Editor, the order of modules is a suggested order to process your audio.  Until you get a grasp on how these tools work to make more of your own edit decisions, it’s a great starting place.

iZotope RX Advanced Editor Module List
iZotope RX Advanced Editor Module List

2. Embrace the Preset

iZotope has done a great job with these as descriptors of the problem you face.  Presets are also a great means of learning how a tool works.

3. Copy & Paste

Sometimes for a sound overlapping with the voice, it’s easier to special copy around the surrounding area and paste over the problem rather than attempting to remove it manually.

4. Edit Louder

Increasing your dialogue closer to the final target level first can help reveal issues that are inaudible at the raw level but loud and noticeable at the final output.

5. Little & Often

If you work in a DAW that uses plugin inserts, using two or three instances of Voice De-noise with a lower setting (no more the 3 for reduction) in automatic mode can sometimes render better results than one instance of Voice De-noise at a higher setting.

iZotope RX Review: Conclusion

It’s no secret that a vast amount of dialogue editors around the world use iZotope RX in some shape or form.  These are power tools once you get the hang of using them.  iZotope is generous with the amount of presets they give, which greatly speeds up your workflow and understanding of how these tools work.  As a dialogue editor myself, these tools have salvaged more audio than I can count over the years.  It’s easy to overdo it at first but once you find that balance, your audio will be nicely polished and making the mix stage much easier on you.

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