Hands­-On with iZotope’s Pro Audio Essentials Gamified Learning Tools

Publish date:
Updated on
Image placeholder title

The “gamfication” of everything has become a hot buzz term, especially in the world of Web apps, where people turn to try to do difficult things but pretend that they’re still just wasting time with some instantly gratifying fun.

Duolingo helps you learn a second language with gamification; CrowdRise gamifies raising money for charity; and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is changing the way that people... well, no, that’s just a kick­ass game.


I’ve often said that music technology is very slow to adopt technological standards, in part because it’s a relatively tiny industry. Like, what do you mean this sampler only has a Zip drive, everyone is using Jaz drives! Or, as an example from this century, Thunderbolt audio interfaces are getting to be a big thing now, but only after five years of the technology have made it permeate enough people’s lives.

So it’s encouraging that the music technology world is embracing gamification long before just the mention of the word makes people scratch their chin and say “oh yeah, I remember 2015!” Melodics has gamified learning finger drumming on a MIDI controller, because the world desperately needs more finger drumming virtuoso videos on YouTube.


And now iZotope has upped the ante with its new Pro Audio Essentials site, where you can learn some of the most important fundamentals of audio production and then put your skills to the test in a gamified proving grounds. The site currently has three topics to explore: Equalization, Compression and Digital Audio Basics. Each topic has a series of educational videos or other aids to get you up to speed on the subject, such as the pictured iZotope Musical Frequency Chart.


Image placeholder title

Only the EQ section has the gamified interactive tool right now, but those tools are supposed to be in the works for Compression and Digital Audio Basics.

The Equalization interactive tool includes a preliminary Explore section with a basic 4­band EQ, where you can hear what’s meant by jargon such as “thump” and “sibilance” and the difference between mixing terms warm and bright or thin and dark.

Image placeholder title

Before entering the Challenge, which is where you can level up and master your listening and EQ setting skills, hit the Practice area to see how well you can choose which files have been EQ’d, identify qualities of EQ, EQ one track to match another, and diagnose which specific EQ changes have been made to a file.

Image placeholder title

When you hit the Challenge phase, the skills being tested are the same, but you have a time limit to complete them. For example, you’ll have to successfully identify five EQ’d files in one minute. When you get through the Apprentice round, you can move on the more difficult Master round.

Image placeholder title

The Pro Audio Essentials site is still being built out, but after using it for just over an hour, I do believe that it will be an effective way to sharpen people’s EQ skills. For my part, I got through the “Listen for” and “Qualities of EQ” sections rather quickly, but I had some trouble with matching the EQ settings of one file with another. My ear wasn’t trained enough to know that a change to one EQ setting not only effects how that frequency band sounds, but it can also affect your perception of the other unaltered frequencies. So after putting some time into the Practice side of EQ Matching, I did eventually get better. Imagine that.

Image placeholder title

If people have had no formal audio production education, they can learn own their own by ear, but having a “game” like iZotope’s Pro Audio Essentials, they can get some confirmation that what they’re doing will or will not accomplish what they’re trying to do, and as a result, speed up the learning process.

I can’t wait to see their next gamified tool for the often misunderstood and misused process, compression. Also, I totally crushed it to earn the Cable Coiler badge, so if any studios need one of those, hit me on Twitter. https://twitter.com/treefitty