iZotope is one of those software companies who keep bringing us well designed, dedicated tools that when we have them, we think how did we live without this!
Just check out the detailed review of the Izotope RX plugin we did and look right back to the early release of sample manipulator pHATmatik PRO to see how these tools they are producing are specific but extremely versatile. I for one still love and widely use the pHATmatik, and now they bring us Nectar. The all in one vocal production package (Windows/Mac, VST, MAS, Audio Unit, DirectX) which turns out to be no exception from the rest of their tools. Im sure I will be using this one for sometime yet.
Styles and Genres
Nectar neatly comes with 11 diverse vocal production effects and styles right inside the plugin that provide us with key starting points depending on the type of track you are working with. This ultimately gives you one plug-in that’s designed to give you immediate results utilising automatic pitch correction, manual note editor, breath control, a gate, compressors, saturation, EQ, a de-esser, doubler, a limiter, reverb, and delay. Each preset takes these and provides you with the correct settings, ranges, modules and parameters in order to get a vocal sound within that particular style. Often I found that these were good starting points and I almost started editing them immediately to taste and in some cases the genres didnt fit at all for what I was doing. iZotope give us a randomise button for this ad let these modules do some talking of their own!
Here are some examples:
Stadium Rock Vocals
Large reverbed vocal preset
To view and edit any particular module (effect), single click on the individual module buttons on the left hand side of Nectar’s interface and by clicking on the orange power icon on the right hand side of each module will turn the corresponding module On and Off. What I found particularly useful was the ability to Solo each module to hear what it is doing on its own without any other processing and the ability to re-order the modules by simply clicking and dragging couldn’t be easier. Like most of us, we want ultimate control over the way we produce anything and iZotope are not shy to this within any of their plugins. Switching to Nectar’s Advanced View provides you with direct access to all of Nectar’s processing modules and their controls.
Modules available include:
The Ess slider will allow you to define the amount of De-Essing that will be applied to your incoming audio. Nectar’s De-Esser will apply the same amount of Ess reduction regardless of the incoming audio level and as such, there is no need for threshold or level based controls.
Once the vocal take is saturated, compressed or limited, the singers breathing can become loud and abrasive while the vocal take itself might be just the sound you’re looking for. The Breath Control module can allow you to reduce the gain of these brea ths, while keeping the sung vocals untouched. The Breath Control module will automatically detect breaths in your vocal takes and suppress them. This can be an essential tool when trying to get a very intimate or aggressive vocal sound that requires the singer to be very close to their microphone. This is a real killer feature and although I was slighlty jubious atbout how this would actually affect the audio sonically I was mighty impressed. This will save me a lot of time drawing in automation data to supres any unwanted breaths.
Here is the Stadium Rock Vocal but with the vocal suppression
You can raise the Threshold of Nectar’s Gate in order to reduce the gain of any low level signals in your audio.
“iZotope has leveraged years of research into pitch shifting to develop high quality automatic and graphical pitch correction. The result is natural sounding correction with simple user controls for making subtle adjustments to tuning or reworking a melody.”
Allows you to access Nectar’s Automatic pitch correction. Use these controls to adjust the correction speed as well as the scale and root note that your incoming vocals will be corrected to. You can also click the Manual Editor button in order to capture and manually edit any particular note in your audio just as you might do with other autotune plugins..
Reconfigured depending on your chosen Genre and Style, use these modules to bring out and sculpt your incoming vocals to fit your session and style.
Use the Preamp and Loudness sliders to adjust the settings and timbres created at the beginning of your vocal chain.
Increase the Preamp control in order to bring up the initial gain of your vocals as well as add in extra color to fit your chosen style. Depending on the Style, this can be achieved by Saturating the signal with certain harmonic profiles, adjusting certain aspects of the EQ contour, or with style appropriate compression controls.
The Loudness slider is most often used to bring up the overall comparative loudness of your incoming vocal audio. In most styles, this is done by adjusting varied compression parameters and other dynamics controls such as Limiting in order to even out your audio’s dynamic range.
Whether with added Reverb or Delay, the Space module’s controls can help to add depth and shine to your dry incoming audio. The particular flavor and timbre of the spatial processing that is added will be tailored to suit your particular chosen Genre and Style.
Use the controls to adjust how much processing will be added, the size of that processing, and how dark or bright the added space will be.
Unique to each Genre and Style, the “Creative” module of Nectar’s Main View can represent any number of different audio processes, all designed to further enhance or bring your particular style in a new direction. Using combinations of doubling processing, EQ contours, creative delays and echoes, extra dynamics controls, or varied saturation profiles, the “Creative” controls act as a compliment to the Levels and Space modules.
Adjust any of Nectar’s EQ nodes in order to shape your sound to fit into your mix. Click and drag to alter the frequency and gain of any node, and use the node brackets or the mouse-wheel to adjust the Q of that particular node.
Mixing and Tracking
In order to achieve accurate and high quality processing inside of Nectar, certain modules require a larger amount of cpu usage and imposed latency (delay) upon your tracks. In general, this imposed latency is compensated for by your host audio application, aligning your tracks and preserving the timing of your audio with respect to your session. I noticed when using Nectar that it was instantly a heavy load on the processor I wondered how we would be hit in terms of latency, especially if I wanted to track with the plugin in action! Thankfully Nectar comes with both Tracking and Mixing modes which configure Nectar’s algorithms under the hood for exactly this.
The default state of Nectar, all modules will be available for use and higher quality but more cpu intensive processes will be used.
If near zero latency processing and lighter cpu usage are required either in a recording or live scenario, engaging Tracking mode will configure Nectar to run quickly and efficiently.
In Tracking mode, the following changes will occur:
Pitch Correction – Only Automatic Pitch Correction will be available and a streamlined pitch correction algorithm will be used.
Doubler – A lower latency and less cpu intensive doubling algorithm will be used.
Limiter – The underlying algorithm is changed to a zero-latency Brickwall
Breath Control – This module is disabled as a high latency is required for its operation. When in Tracking mode, the Breath Control module will automatically be bypassed.
In order for the Breath Control module to have time to perform its analysis, it must incur a good deal of latency. The result of this latency is that the incoming audio is delayed in time with respect to the other tracks in your session. When tracking (recording) your incoming audio, if Nectar is in Mixing mode and the Breath Control module is engaged, the latency of the Breath Control module will cause a delay between when the audio comes in to your computer, and when it passes through Nectar. In these instances, be sure to switch Nectar into Tracking mode.
I, being interested in the misuse of many items in my studio, decided to run some drum samples through the different presets just to see what this would do.
Nectar is definitely a comprehensive and well engineered plugin. Ultimately this is aimed at vocal production but I feel that this has a place within any instruments heart. The preamp and saturation capabilities would work really well on bass, and I could use the pitch shifting for tight and concise synth lines. The reverb to me is a little ‘white noise’ sounding, a little like those low end plugins which do not necessarily add room to your sound but white noise instead. The delays are excellent and the ability to change the order of the effects is a cool feature. Like I said – how did I live without this plugin?
…Nectar is definitely a comprehensive and well engineered plugin…
- Excellent range of effects to get the sound you need
- All in one package, no need for other processing
- Sounds great
LOVE IT OR HATE IT
- You may already have your own way of producing vocals and a set of plugins you tend to use, then you may find this slightly alienating
- Hard on the processor
- Reverbs sound a little cheap
- Not cheap, but it may help you saving quite a lot of precious time
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