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Iris 2

Visual Instrument Plugin by iZotope
Iris Iris Iris 2
Favorite Sampled Virtual Instrument - KVR Audio Readers' Choice Awards 2019
Iris 2 by iZotope is a Virtual Instrument Audio Plugin for macOS and Windows. It functions as a VST Plugin, an Audio Units Plugin, a VST 3 Plugin and an AAX Plugin.
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iZotope Iris offers a new concept in sound design and sample manipulation in the form of a "visual instrument.".

Powered by iZotope's visual feedback technology, Iris lets you unearth a world of sounds you've never heard before. Delve into Iris's spectrogram to extract, layer, manipulate, and discover new sounds from within any audio file. With extended synthesis features, hundreds of presets, and 4 GB of source material, Iris is an impressive tool for sound design, musical inspiration, and sonic experimentation.

Create and discover musical sounds that have never been heard before. An inspiring sample-based synthesizer, Iris 2 is immediately playable—combining the power of a sampler, the flexibility of a modular synth, and the fun of spectral filtering.

Get started fast by selecting from hundreds of expertly crafted Bass, Keys, Leads, Pads, and Rhythmic patches. Then customize or build your own patches with an 11 GB factory library of intriguing audio samples, a modern modulation system, classic filters, evocative effects, and more. Explore a new world of musical possibilities with Iris 2.

Iris Key Features:

  • Discover what's hidden: Bring any audio file into Iris and isolate the most interesting spectral portions with a comprehensive set of easy-to-use selection tools. Play your completely custom sound instantly from any MIDI controller.
  • Become a mad sonic scientist: Create new textures and dramatic soundscapes by layering multiple sounds from similar or completely diverse audio sources.
  • Stay musical: Rely on intelligent root note detection to help shape musical material from noise, ambient textures, and soundscapes, then use advanced controls to tweak, modulate, and add effects to taste—all powered by iZotope's DSP.
  • Start playing immediately: A world of sound design is at your fingertips, with hundreds of presets from world-class sound designers and 4 GB of audio samples, including recordings of insects, animals, machines, vintage synthesizers, musical instruments and much more.

Latest User Reviews

Average user rating of 4.20 from 5 reviews
Iris 2

Reviewed By ubailey [all]
January 14th, 2019
Version reviewed: 2.02 on Windows

The sounds that come out of this are outstanding. The best sounding synth i have. It taxes you on the CPU resources, u just have to learn to bounce tracks more to work with it. I would have gave it a 4 because of this, but again the sound is so amazing its a 5. I can't believe izotope no longer updates this.

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Iris 2

Reviewed By kuzami [all]
June 16th, 2015
Version reviewed: 8.1 on Windows

GUI: The GUI is lovely and very pleasing to look at. It's also very intuitive and easy to use, similarily to Serum. This doesn't just include the spectral filtering tools, but everything, including envelopes, modulation etc. It's also resizable and very customizable in terms of layout. All drag-and-drop, and provides a very nice first impression.


Spectrogram display - basically a great spectrogram visualizer, can also show a waveform, and both simultaneously. One of its main features is the Spectral Filtering, where you can use different selection tools to select different parts using the visualizer. The selection tools includes the very useful lasso tool, which can be used for some crazy sound design, amongst other things.

Envelopes: Five graphical envelopes, with the normal controls. Can be set with drag-and-drop to modulate almost anything.

LFOs: The same. Easy to use, graphical. intuitive. Same modulation system, same flexibility.

Effects: Not the broadest selection available, but you got the most important ones: reverb, delay, distortion, chorus, and filters. Available both as inserts and sends. Four parameters on each (except the filter), so these are not for the heavy tweakers, but they deliver decent results quickly. As far as the filter goes, you only get to control cutoff and resonance (as well as keytracking), but you have 17 different filters to choose from, so that weighs it up.

Sample layers: You can layer up to four different sounds, and control all individually. Master control is also available from the mix panel. Great for making crazy sounds.


The sound library is huge. According to the iZotope website it's at 11GB. Haven't checked myself, but it seems about right. You get some standard sounds (basic synth waves, stuff like that), which are very useful if you want to use this for "non-crazy" stuff, but the emphasis seems to be to cater to a sound designers wishes (as it should). You get objects, enviromental sounds, toys, modular synths, to mention some. Love the sounds, and it's definetely a selling point.


As good as I expected. Not meant to be a sound-enhancing tool. but can't fault the sound. Had more problems with clicking and other audio-related problems with other software. Also includes the brilliant Radius RT, a stretching and pitching algorithm/mode that lets you (as far as I have discovered) play sounds and changing the pitch without changing the tempo. It's not perfect, but I haven't encountered anything better.

Performance: This is where things start to look a bit worse. While it's not killing your CPU from start-up, it can get nasty after a while. Got almost 50% CPU on my haswell i7 on some of the more complex patches. Expect bouncing to audio if you are going to use this heavily.

Price: While you can get it on sale, I think a $250 asking price is a bit too much for casual users. For sound designers it will definetely be worth, but for "normal" producers and composer, it may be too much for a "crazy noise machine". In other words: it depends on who you are.

Conclusion: The CPU perfomance ruins it a bit, but otherwise, this is a unique and solid piece of software, which for the right users, will be a dream come true.

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Iris 2

Reviewed By syndicat [all]
February 13th, 2015
Version reviewed: 10.10 on Mac

Just cool and cooler as version 1 - a nice tool to fiddle with any audio to build pads and long lasting sounds, but is even a handy tool to sound design short "crazy" stuff non heard from (and not possible with) any synth before. Like it or hate it... ß)

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Iris 2

Reviewed By XFX [all]
January 5th, 2015
Version reviewed: 8.1 on Windows

Just purchased Iris 2 recently and was rather pleased with the modulation matrix.

1. Use a future computer and a fast read/write SSD!!.

"We chose to ensure audio fidelity and sonic possibilities are the top priority in Iris 2,
anticipating faster and more powerful computers will continue to be developed in the future." - Iris2 ref manual.

Even though having only 5 LFOs and 5 ENV, it was pushing the CPU and ASIO drivers hard on the new patches I created. Typically I like to utillise all the sample slots, have an LFOs modulate type Multiply LFO for FM. Assign multiple params to a macro knob, use lots of macro knobs for pitch shifts and sample gain levels, also simultaneous changes of effects params. I end up using all the effects. I guess the newest most powerful machine is required to run the standalone program. I haven't used it in my DAW yet, most probably would do that after a few more sounds patches are done. Ironically, I bought Iris 2 based on the idea of a sample playback VST with unique filtering options, it would be less CPU and disk intensive.

2. Sample and sound playback useful for soundscape creation or soundtrack production. eg. Post production.

"Every pool can load a sample or classic oscillator waveforms
To increase flexibility, the Sub section from Iris 1 has been replaced with a sample pool that
allows you to load any sample. / Every pool can load a sample or classic oscillator waveforms
To increase flexibility, the Sub section from Iris 1 has been replaced with a sample pool that
allows you to load any sample." - Iris2 ref manual.

Filters are good, Warm Synth, Screaming Peak and Tokyo LP been useful for my sounds, just requires careful use of resonance.

Still wondering if I can create or import my own LFOs into IRIS2. Went through the manual, doesn't seem to say anything about that.

The resample option changes pitch of the original sample, but it plays back faster. Really doesn't work well for voice samples. Pitching with Radius RT has limits, is resource intensive. Surely was expecting more from iZotope especially after how well they presented the new version. Having the sound of the chipmunks a fifth or octave up brings me back to the days of early portable samplers, better suited for hand claps and percussion. Even back then key ranges could be assigned to certain samples or individual keys. I understand this is 2015 and we would expect options for layers or loading SFZs or maybe triggering multiple pre-sampled wav or aiff files across the keyboard.

3. Working in a box of boxes maybe. It does simplify sample sound shaping playback, with some effects to add body to sounds. That's about it.

i) Build your own synth: Create sounds that are completely unique by layering up to four
different samples
ii) Shape your own sound: Develop expressive, dynamic, and evolving musical sounds with
the powerful and flexible new modulation system.
iii) Draw your own filters: Draw, select, and isolate sonic components from each sample layer
using iZotope's award-winning RX Spectral Filtering technology.
iv) Define your sonic signature: Load one of the hundreds of fresh and inspiring presets and
immediately tweak the most important parameters with eight Macro Controls available
right in the preset window." - Iris2 ref manual.

I just couldn't agree with the part of building your own synth. I believe its just a sample playback software that you
a) LOAD samples or single cycle waveforms,
b) apply MODULATION to parameters. I don't see anyway to morph waveforms unless via basic FM, AM.
c) SHAPE sound via specific filtering, isolation.
d) USE presets supplied or sold and tweak them with the eight Macro Control.
e) You can't edit the Sound files in IRIS2, you need an audio editing software that displays zero crossing clearly. Especially important when dealing with loops.

IRIS 2 does feel like a tool that plays samples with basic loop functionality and applies effects and modulation. The spectrum analyser window is helpful but is best left tucked away to reduce CPU load.

i'll just try to work within the box, this 32 polyphony tool box that requires a future computer.

Operating Systems: Windows and Mac (Intel-based Macs only)
Plug-in Formats: 32/64-bit Audio Units, VST, VST3, AAX, RTAS
Product Compatibility: For the most up-to-date system requirements and host
compatibility details, visit our website." - Iris2 ref manual.

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Iris 2

Reviewed By matteogk [all]
July 10th, 2014
Version reviewed: 7 on Windows

One of the most versatile and surprisingly creative synth on the market. Designing patches on the spectrum image (almost as in a photoshop UI) is intuitive and easy and, most of all, gives the user a different point of view, which often results in very original sounds. Automations, macros, playback and loop settings, together with the graphic design you can make directly on the sound file's spectrum, give endless possibilities to musician's creativity.

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Comments & Discussion for iZotope Iris 2

Discussion: Active
6 January 2015 at 8:07am

hmm, i use a early 2010 MacBookPro 6,1 (with orig. Samsung 830 SSD and i7 CPU, 8GB - with samples stored on a "fast" external firewire hard disk) and did not reached the system limits with Iris 2 so far, but mainly used Iris waves in the samples.

There are other products from iZotope which grabbing much more system Ressources like Breaktweaker if runned faster then 48 kHz for me, requiring track bouncing often in my projects with higher track counts and resolution.

But getting such computation without lack of fidelity typically costs large CPU (and partly bus) ressources - even if the critical code got optimized for that type of CPU. If your CPU did not offer a fast and capacitive variant of the cpu/math features the software relys on this could result in a significant performance loss. So having a modern workstation CPU is important if you want to run professional audio processors.

27 January 2015 at 10:09am

You wrote:

IRIS 2 does feel like a tool that plays samples with basic loop functionality and applies effects and modulation. The spectrum analyser window is helpful but is best left tucked away to reduce CPU load.

The spectral filtering window is the core of Iris, that's what it's all about, if you tuck it away and don't use it, you have totally missed the point of Iris. Using it as a sample player of course will only yield frustration due to the limitations, it's made for spectral resynthesis/filtering, nothing else.

19 February 2015 at 7:31am

I'll stick to creating within the limitations of the software or hardware. Usually the case in additive synthesis. One can't get frustrated when using a machete to shape a block of wood, because one decided to use it.

Yeah, so now i just reduce the release times and polyphony, use shorter samples and single cycle wave forms, hand draw wave forms and paste them together in external editor. import these into Iris2 scrape out some frequencies in the loops. Spectrum window is useful but was hoping it opens out to a separate window with options for zoom and x-y axis. Since we're using a spectrum analyser, maybe the ability to specify frequencies and Q factors in the filters/tools would be really helpful. Multiple loop points and the ability to change the sequence of these loops for each loaded audio would be appreciated. The visuals are aids, but we still create sounds by hearing and feeling them, adjusting the frequencies and amplitudes that affect that experience. A request for finer control for a better sound. Howz about it Izotope?

4 July 2015 at 12:02pm

After 6 months of use.

4 July 2015 at 12:14pm

After 6 months of use would have to say it sounds good. All patches made in IRIs2 are enhanced by the effects section which is quite good. The distortion sounds nice.

Still best to use as a tool for ambient sounds, pads and fx.

The options for modulation and control are numerous.

Best results seem to happen when the samples are edited and processed well before importing.

The recent crossgrade sale should make it attractive enough for most to get Iris2. I guess iZotope did listen when they sent the survey out, that the owners of Iris and the other tools would like a better deal for upgrades to the latest versions on offer.

BTW I was convinced enough to get Nectar2 Production Suite. Their effects sound good.


13 September 2015 at 7:55pm

After reading a thread squaring Off Hive / Syelnth today, I have to laugh; I bought Iris 2 several months ago.

...and Apple's inclusion of Alchemy out of the box (for under $200, $29 for Mainstage!) has prompted some of these sales too I believe. I see that iZotope has reduced Iris 2 by 50%, and of course there have been direct comparison's given Alchemy's Spectrogram. I've watched videos comparing the two.

Often Omnisphere and Alchemy are directly squared off in a similar fashion. MacProVideo calls the latter "The Most Powerful Synth on the Planet:" http://www.macprovideo.com/tutorial/wha ... pro-x-10-2

And Iris 2 costs *almost* as much as Logic -- ON SALE.

14 September 2015 at 6:48am

No idea what you tried to "compare" there (j own Iris, the former Alchemy and MainStage plus Omnisphere in version 2).

Just beside the fact that Alchemy isnt developed as AU and VST anymore - Iris is Iris and Alchemy or Omnisphere doesnt include the full functionality plus bring in resource overhead for users just want to work with a timeline spectrum tool like Iris.

19 September 2015 at 3:03pm

I would like to think that each product is not a one-size-fits-all type of product... each has it's advantages and disadvantages. The more a software programmer develops a program and attempts for it to become a "jack of all trades" it tends to become a "master of none." iZotope's Iris 2 is a FINE product, as is Alchemy, as is Omnisphere 2. I have zero information on MainStage. I simply think that in order to create a unique synthesizer the developer has to include and not include some features to focus on what they intend the product to DO.

You could also try out 2CAudio's Kaleidoscope which is processor intensive but worth every strain on your computer if you are attempting to manipulate original sounds in unique ways.

I guess I am just saying that each plug-in has it's inherent capabilities but there will never be one plug-in to "rule them all".



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