iZotope Alloy 2 Full Review

October 30, 2013
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I originally reviewed Alloy in 2010 and immediately became a fan of its integration of essential engineering tools into something that’s far more than a channel strip plug-in. Alloy’s combination of parametric EQ, exciter/drive, transient shaping, de-esser, limiter and not one but two multiband compressor/gates is heaven-sent for producers who need a variety of additional pro-level processing tools but don’t want to break the bank acquiring them. Here are some of the new highlights that iZotope’s affordably priced Swiss Army processor now offers. (Don't forget to check out the before-and-after audio examples at the bottom of this page!)

PROS: Top notch collection of in-line effects for essential engineering tasks. Very CPU-friendly even when using extensive processing chains.

CONS: Compressors are advanced enough to have a non-trivial learning curve.

Bottom Line: One of the best sounding, most complete, flexible, and advanced “channel strip” plug-ins on the planet.

$199 list | $149 street | izotope.com

Alloy 2 is now both 32-bit and 64-bit compatible, as well as compliant with Pro Tools’ new AAX format. It also features a larger interface, so squinters like myself can more easily see what they’re tweaking. Plus, the user interface is just more elegant overall.

The EQ now includes super-smooth Baxandall filters, an extreme sounding brick-wall filter, and a recreation of the classic Bell filter, along with a few other updated filter types. The Baxandall filters are a joy to work with for things like vocals and pads, since their gentle slopes let you subtly shape your audio in an extremely transparent manner. There’s also a mode that’s obviously derived from the Pultec EQ, which is another lovely addition.

I always dug the original Alloy transient-shaping tools, especially for percussion loops and plucky analog synth riffs. The update features a “fully redesigned” technology and, buzzwords aside, it really does sound sharper and thwackier—adding snap to sounds with mushy attacks.

The new exciter algorithms are extremely impressive and can now push further into overdrive territory, which makes them hyper-handy for adding grit and dirt to synth leads and, of course, TR-909-style kicks. In addition, the “warm” algorithm lives up to its name even more now. Frankly, this tool is even more dazzling if you were a fan of the original.

I’ve always thought that Alloy’s dual multiband dynamics processors were worth the price of admission alone, so version 2’s inclusion of finer control over the various crossover points and frequency response, plus a few enhancements to the sidechain tools, are welcome indeed. That said, these compressors to take a little getting used to if you plan to rely on them regularly. That’s not to say they sound bad in any way. It’s just that there are so many options that if you’re not somewhat knowledgeable about compression, you can screw things up pretty quickly. Then again, that’s what presets are for and Alloy 2 comes with a great assortment of them.

Finally, Alloy’s limiter still sounds great and very little was done here to tinker with the overall formula, with the exception of the adding an unlink function for independent limiting of the left and right channels.

When it was first introduced, Alloy was a real value at $249. With a new list price of $199 and a ton more amenities, it’s an even better choice for processing options that offer truly professional sound quality and precision, and that would cost much more if purchased as separate plug-ins from prominent competitors.

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