iZotope AudioLens captures and manages reference audio for Ozone 10 and Neutron 4

For a limited time, iZotope is offering its new AudioLens app for free. AudioLens is a very specific little app that does but one thing: it lets you create and manage audio references used by the Assistants in the latest versions of Neutron and Ozone. AudioLens is the surefire way to analyse them and populate the Assistants with references collected from any resource your Mac has access to, bar external audio.

Creating reference sounds without AudioLens is not exactly easy when you want to reference sounds from, for instance, a YouTube video. It requires the use of an extra app such as the excellent Audio Hijack (reviewed here) from Rogue Amoeba to route the YouTube audio to an AIFF, MP3 or other format recording. And then you’ve got to save them in a folder. And if you have two references that sound faintly similar, you’ll want to view the difference, so you’ll need something like RX 10 (which I highly recommend you having, anyway — review here)

And then, perhaps months later, you’ll want to load one of those as a reference track in Ozone 10, but by then, you’ve forgotten which of the two was the best for your project and you’ll need to start all over again.

It’s a pain, in short.

It happens to be that Audio Hijack uses a technology the Rogue Amoeba devs developed to capture sound from any software on your Mac (and mics, and audio interfaces, and, and, and…). It’s called Audio Capture Engine or ACE for short, and it works in the background to grab the Mac’s audio and route it through the app you’re using — Audio Hijack, Loopback, SoundSource or — since last week — AudioLens. Yes, iZotope licensed ACE and that was a very, very good decision, because ACE is rock solid and is very often updated to ensure it stays that way, even as Apple messes up the rest of macOS.

So, the Audiolens desktop app lets you analyse audio via ACE from any streaming platform or software audio source to make track referencing and comparison easy. The only thing you need to do with AudioLens is play your chosen audio through the selected output of your device and the application will collect data on key sonic characteristics, while rendering a visual waveform of that audio’s spectral data.

Note that it won’t work when you route audio through your audio interface’s app. While Audio Hijack works with my Apogee Element 24’s Apogee Control panel, AudioLens is deaf for sound routed via the Apogee Control.

Regardless, it makes the whole comparing and matching process a lot more simple because:

  1. You don’t necessarily need to hear the audio while it goes through AudioLens and
  2. You can build a personal catalogue of reference track data that you can access at any time.

You name your tracks so you can quickly find the sounds you want to match or compare tonal balance profiles. The Target Library talks to Ozone 10 and Neutron 4, and automatically populates your references to those plug-ins. That is what makes AudioLens so enticing: any work-around will not integrate with these two plug-ins.

In practice…

I downloaded the app and installed it on my iMac. When it’s installed, all you get is an empty window. Now, whenever you launch an app or a website that has sound, the window suddenly gets a moving wave graphic without you having to do anything else.

This works with web browsers but also any other software that outputs through the system sound setup. On my system it worked with:

  • The Hexeract software synth app and other synth apps
  • The Orchestral Tools SINE Player
  • The Audirvana audiophile music player app
  • Skype (but see below)
  • The Brave, Firefox and safari browsers

Anything recorded with a microphone, including the system microphone, is ignored. Skype’s outgoing sound therefore is not captured.

On November 22, the AudioLens app will no longer be available for free. It will then cost 99 USD, which might seem a bit steep, until you start collecting reference audio and find out that it involves several time-consuming steps AudioLens takes care of for you.

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