iZotope Alloy 2 by zephonic
You get what you pay for. I have been baited many times by 'limited-time-only' offers, which would make me feel I got a great deal, but as the excitement of the the fresh purchase wears off, I'm usually left feeling that it's really not all that, and what seemed like a good buy turns out to be a waste of money.
Not so with IZotope's Alloy 2. It was not on sale, but the regular price ($199) is extremely fair, considering all that you get.
Alloy 2 has 7 sections: an EQ, a transient shaper, an exciter, two compressors, a de-esser and a limiter. Each of these can be individually switched on and off. The transient shaper, exciter and compressors have multi-band functionality which greatly enhances their usefulness. But you can get the details from Izotope’s site or other reviews, so I’m gonna skip all that and get right down to business.
This thing sounds seriously good. It doesn’t do vintage or classic stuff, but it does digital, and it does digital right.
At the risk of offending legions of pro engineers, the presets in this thing are fantastic. They provide excellent “ballpark” sounds, which serve as great starting points for further tweaking. And not a lot of tweaking is needed, typically it is adjusting thresholds/boost/cut etc. and pretty soon you’re good.
I use it mostly for vocals and drum buss, and it is excellent on both. Most of the presets sound very current and up-to-date, many of them designed to give you that "boom, now it sounds like a record" feeling. To really get it right, you’ll need to dive in there to finish it up to make it ‘sit’, but a lot of the hard work has been done for you and in my case, many of the presets are great time-savers.
For those who prefer to start with a clean sheet: all the different blocks give you an amazingly versatile and superb-sounding tool that allows to sculpt and mold the sound to your heart’s content.
It’s hard for me to think of true negatives; I think the exciter is probably less impressive in isolation. It distorts pretty quickly but at modest levels it doesn’t appear to do much. That said, whenever it is active in a preset it is easier to pick out what it does by switching it on and off, so perhaps it is simply my ineptitude.
Also, this is a modern plugin and you’re not gonna run 500 instances of this on your MacPro. It is not too heavy considering all it does, but it does take cycles, and when you have a lot of instances open, you will notice.
In conclusion, Alloy 2 sounds great, has excellent presets for those who don’t want to be bothered, offers deep control for those who need it, and generally delivers on all counts. I think it is well worth the $199.