Nectar 3 is a powerful vocal processing package and my go-to treatment for cleaning up voice recordings. That is, unless I’m feeling analog and want to chain up any of the virtual mix rack / gear emulation plug-ins I own. But as an all-out digital channel strip, Nectar 3 is superb. That’s why I’m glad to see it updated with new features and improvements in the form of Nectar 3 Plus.
iZotope Nectar 3 Plus
First off, iZotope has introduced Unmasking to Nectar’s automated Vocal Assistant. Unmask works pretty much the same as in Neutron 3. It uses iZotope’s inter plug-in communication protocol to analyze the rest of your tracks (which have Relay or other iZotope production plug-ins on them). Then, it applies dynamic and frequency processing to bring your vocals up and clear in the mix. Turn on the Dynamic setting, and this happens only while vocal tracks are playing. This is a typically clever iZotope feature that can potentially save hours of drawing automation curves. The unmasking process is visualized in the EQ window and the amount of processing applied can be adjusted from a single Amount slider. The slider is available per-track for targeted processing. Good stuff!
Additionally, the Pitch module has been improved with the addition of a Learn button. The engine automatically detects your vocal register and offers three related keys to set up your pitch correction. Of course, you can still set the key manually and transpose your audio in steps. I think the Pitch module is very useful and quick to operate, now even more so with the Learn button. I’ve grown into the habit of creating all-out pitch corrected duplicates of my vocals and burying them in the mix for added subtle thickness and pitch correction. It’s not the same as properly doubling and correcting vocals, but I find it a useful technique.
iZotope presumably wants to keep the pitch correction simple to use. Which is why it’s bundling Nectar 3 Plus with a copy of Melodyne 5 Essential for precise pitch-shifting. It’s a nice entry into the world of Melodyne that’s perfectly capable of fixing wrong notes. It’s also a good bit of added value. There’s also the RX 8 Breath Control module, borrowed from the developer’s flagship audio restoration suite. If your vocal’s too breathy for radio, maybe you can take care of that with RX 8 Breath Control.
Otherwise, Nectar 3 Plus contains all the modules found in Nectar 3 Standard – EQ, Pitch, Dimension (modulation effects), Harmony, Compressor, Reverb, and De-esser. Also included is a free MGMT Artist Preset pack to go alongside the hundred or so factory presets. I’m particularly fond of how iZotope design their presets – great starting points and general-purpose treating with just a click of the mouse! Of course, it really pays off to know your production techniques so that you’re able to tailor the presets for your specific production instead of using them as a crutch. So don’t go all automation-happy if you’re somewhat new to producing. Learn the trade, it can only help.
Price and availability
While not a free update, the upgrade price for owners of Nectar 3 Elements and Standard is fair. The upgrade from Standard is EUR 50, the upgrade from Elements is EUR 99. The regular price for Nectar 3 Plus is EUR 199, and at this point you might look into all the sales and bundles offered by the developer and its distributors, such as Thomann (affiliate link). If you are confused by the buying options, simply get in touch with iZotope’s customer support and they will help you out, they are consistently awesome. That, or your distributor’s sales agents.