(mtebaldi | Posted 2011-05-20)





thillana, from the Hebrew nigunim, to the choirs of your nearby High School or Church. For being the very first musical instrument our species has ever had the ability to play, the voice is, especially today, one of the most important components of modern music. Not only by lyrics, but also by tone, pitch and color of a singer’s voice is how the listeners can most easily capture the emotional content of a composition. The voice is by far the easiest to assimilate of all instruments. It’s no wonder that we can easily identify a good or bad singer, a pleasant or unpleasant voice.

 Because it carries such an important task in the world of music writing, vocals are one of the most carefully scrutinized elements inside of a recording studio. Especially now, with the many tools that the digital era has brought to these environments, to achieve an impeccable vocal is not just an achievement but also an expectation. The world’s ears are open and easily accessible nowadays, and a lack-luster vocal performance can cut short what was intended to be a career jump-start.

 With the recording market flooded with the most diverse types of plug-ins for the most diverse tasks, I found it somewhat difficult to find one that would incorporate all the different tools needed for voice enhancing, clearing, effecting and fixing; all inside one box. That’s when iZotope’s Nectar caught my eyes. Claiming to offer a set of 11 vocal production tools and effects in one plug-in, this was one I couldn’t let pass by unnoticed.

 I think the very first thing I liked about Nectar was when I loaded it for the first time on my DAW and a quick interface run-through came up. I don’t usually see that happening with other plug-ins I’ve purchased recently, a great little addition to this package. Although Nectar itself is a quite simple and user-friendly device, the run-though let me quickly get acquainted and more familiar with the product at a faster pace, thus facilitating the progression into the more advanced uses.

 Nectar comes with many vocal presets specifically designed for many of the most used genres out there; from rock and pop, to classical, hip-hop, and even sound effects. These presets can help put you on the game right off the bat, making the job of enhancing some vocal tracks quick and simple. Obviously you can go much deeper with Nectar to shape and create the perfect sounding vocal track. The main tools of the plug-in are displayed right on the front its interface. De-esser, breath, pitch correction, levels, tone, reverberation effect and EQing are just a click away featuring simple and effective controls. This front control panel makes the product very versatile, giving powerful control and results in a flash. If controlling those parameters is still not enough, you can even go deeper on Nectar by clicking on the advanced view tab. There you will be able to control with more precision every single component that makes this iZotope product function. The ability to refine is immense and there is no reason to not have your vocal track sound the best that it can possibly be. Even if you somehow get lost, the help button is a click away to direct you into its online operation manual. Once having parameters tweaked the way you want it to be, Nectar allows you to save your own presets and even lets you add new genre folders to the presets library. As a metal fan, I must confess that I felt the metal genre was a little left out here, and (as everyone knows) many metal singers out there are the ones that most certainly need some extra enhancement support.

 Two of the features of Nectar made me a real happy man. First is the tracking/mixing switch that allows you to use some of the plug-in processing capabilities while tracking, or delivering its full force when you are fine crafting and mixing your vocal take. This switch was an essential feature on the product, since latency is created if you try to track while Nectar is operating to its full potential. This is a clever and effective solution that still allows singers to experiment with Nectar’s effects while performing. The second is the manual pitch editor corrector feature. Although purists usually see pitch correction with evil eyes, it’s a tool that has become very valuable to the music industry (I mean without it, we’d be left only with pop-icons who can actually sing!). The manual editor displays clean, simple and useful features and is very user-friendly, making the correcting process easy and fast.

 While surfing through Nectar’s features, I stumbled upon an interesting function just before I started writing this review, opening my eyes to where else I could use this plug-in. I accidentally loaded Nectar on a track where I play acoustic guitar and sing.  I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised with the results. Many of Nectar’s presets helped enhance my vocals (as it is intended to do), but it additionally gave a clear and warm tone to my guitar. An unexpected double-bonus, that’s for sure. I guess this little episode shows that my exploration on iZotope’s Nectar has only just begun.  After intended and accidental tests of iZzotope’s Nectar, I came to the conclusion that this plug-in is a quite fine discovery for me. As a musician and song writer and I can easily see that Nectar will certainly prove itself very useful to all recording artists, regardless if they are a home-studio musician or a professional music producer and mixer that works in high-end studios. Effective and useful features make Nectar a one stop plug-in to sweeten up any vocal track.

 iZotope’s Nectar retails for $299. The company also offers a Studio Bundle for $649 that comes with Alloy (essential mixing tools), Ozone 4 (complete mastering system) and Nectar.

 For more information please visit www.izotope.com

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