Audio, Reviews

You create entirely new vocal sounds or improve them with iZotope’s Nectar 3

iZotope nectar 3 review

Vocal sound improvement and alteration are the strengths of iZotope’s Nectar plug-in. Version 3 has a spectacular new interface design with more intuitive controls and new features. For dialogues, Nectar 3 gives your recordings more presence or lets you change spoken content by changing pitch, adding delays and reverb or turn your vocal into a horror experience.

Nectar 3’s interface is a radical change from the previous version with more intuitive controls and modules. The plug-in is bundled with iZotope RX 7 Breath Control and Celemony’s Melodyne 4 essential.

Melodyne is a bit lesser known and a specialist’s tool, but it offers GRAMMY-award winning pitch and time correction. I have Melodyne 4 Studio on my machine and reviewed it here earlier. Basically, it allows you to just change even a single note and includes the ability to change everything about that note – pitch, length, formant, harmonics…

Melodyne is a surgical instrument with intuitive, transparent pitch adjustment capabilities. You’ll rarely see it in the average audio dabbler’s tool chest. Having said that, the essential version only contains Melodyne’s Main Tool for the basic editing of pitch and timing. If you want to step up to the full monty, Melodyne Studio will offer you the same capabilities and more as a plug-in.

If you’re only interested in optimising vocals as they’re recorded, Nectar 3 lets you automate the whole thing by using the Assistant module that will listen to your audio and create a custom preset to fit your vocal in the mix, while the Unmask feature will carve out space for the vocal by comparing it to another audio track and correcting frequency masking. The Assistant does a wonderful job, but if you know what you’re doing you can still do better.

To help you beyond pitch correction, the module chain supports two completely redesigned EQ modules, with the ability to set them up as Dynamic EQs. Those follow the harmonics as they change – both audibly and visually. This EQ also allows you to dynamically trigger EQ boosts and cuts.

Nectar 3 also has a new Delay module. What is special about that module is that it offers independent stereo delay controls, again with much visual control which makes it very easy to figure out what you’re doing.

A new Dimension module allows you to modulate vocals with Chorus, Flanger and Phaser modes. The Reverb module now looks more like an EQ and behaves like one in the sense that you can have specific frequencies reverberate instead of the more traditional all-or-nothing approach.

And the list goes on… Nectar 3 supports up to eight synthetic harmony voices. These appear as little, draggable points around a centre point with Gain, Pan, Delay, etc as controls that move with the control points. You just drag them around until it sounds as you want.

In short, if you need to either improve vocal content or change it to make it fit in with a mood or a storyline, Nectar 3 is probably going to be helpful. There’s one thing that I didn’t like about the plug-in, though, but it’s more or less normal given the number of modules you can use: it does hit your CPU quite a bit when you load several modules.

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