Review: iZotope IRIS

Iris is a sampling re-synthesizer that allows you to create sounds based on visual selections, using a spectrogram. You can load up to three distinctive audio samples and one sub-area. The spectrogram displays your audio by time, frequency and amplitude, which serves as a visual guide enabling you to select the most interesting spectral characteristics. By blending the modified samples and applying sub-oscillator waveforms, you can create unique sound patterns that can then be used in the Iris standalone app, or with any DAW such as Logic Pro, Cubase or ProTools since Iris installs the VST, VST3, AU and RTAS formats.

Ever wanted to create your own unique sounds to go with a presentation or a video? Iris is a sort of sound sculpting app that enables you to do just that. I tested the application with the optional Glass and Wood sound libraries. Beyond the method of synthesis itself, the big difference between Iris and the sound sculptor like the one you’ll find in Logic Pro is the ease-of-use and additional creative capabilities.

IT Enquirer rating

9.5/10
URL: izotope.com

Pros
  • interface
  • ease-of-use
  • creative capabilities
  • huge pre-filled patch library
  • Glass and Wood libraries
Cons
  • it’s difficult not to become mesmerized…
Price (approx.): €230.00

With Iris, you can begin by looking around for visually interesting sound patterns in a sound sample. When selected, Iris samples these patterns immediately in real-time, and applies the synthesis parameters and effects that you set. Iris therefore is more like a pleasant discovery, a journey towards a sound pattern that you like.

As well as automatic root note detection, key mapping and iZotope’s Radius RT for real-time pitch-shifting while preserving your sample’s timing, Iris includes favorite synthesizer controls for each sample, such as envelope shaping, a tempo-synced assignable LFO, and other parameters for tweaking the amplitude, modulation, and playback of your sound source. Several parameters can be controlled at once with Macro Controls. If you have a MIDI controller, Iris controls can also be mapped to the physical knobs and buttons.

Favorite synth features like amplitude envelopes, LFOs, root note detection and key mapping are all there for advanced musical control, as well as iZotope’s Radius RT for real-time pitch-shifting while preserving your sample’s timing.

Iris is ideal for anyone seeking a completely fresh take on sampling and synthesis, particularly sound designers and composers working on music and sound for film, television and video games. In addition, Iris comes with a huge collection of over 500 preset patches and a 4GB content library available for immediate use, so you can start making sound right out-of-the-box.

The tools used in Iris are reminiscent of image-based editing: there’s a Lasso for free-hand drawing of any size or shape, a Brush for more fluid selections, with an adjustable brush size, a Magic Wand for selecting whole regions with a similar spectral profile, including upper harmonics, as well as tools for selecting by time and frequency.

Synthesizer controls include envelope shaping, a tempo-synced LFO, and other parameters for tweaking the amplitude, modulation, and playback of your sound source. Several parameters can be controlled at once with Macro Controls. If you have a MIDI controller, Iris controls can also be mapped to the physical knobs and buttons.

A global filter envelope and LFO let you manipulate your patch as a whole. There are several filter types available, including Screaming Peak, Warm Synth Low Pass, and Retro Band Pass.

Personally, I like Iris’ Digital Signal Processing tools the best. They are available as either Master or Send effects and consist of Distortion, Chorus, Delay, and Reverb.

Finally, Filters further improve your sound, including Screaming Peak, Warm Synth Low Pass, and Retro Band Pass.

Using your own sound samples

Except for the provided sound samples and patches, you can also create your own patches using your own sounds. This in particular makes Iris an extremely flexible and powerful sound tool. But there are a few caveats if I can call it that.

I tried 24/96 WAV recordings of various types and length, and the one thing that I noticed was that longer, continuous sounds work much better than for example percussion sounds. The reason for that is that you can actually shorten your sound sample in Iris in such ways that you can create percussive effects inside the app.

I specifically tried streaming water, boiling water, and humming sounds, and these all worked brilliantly, while tapping my fingers on a wooden surface gave me much less “flowing sound” to work with in Iris, resulting in staccato sounding patches — that could be what you’re after of course.

Anyway, Iris will give you a lot of pleasure besides the capability to create other-worldly sound patches for use with very down to earth videos, short film, ads, and much more.