iZotope, the developers of the industry standard audio restoration suite RX & hugely popular mastering platform ozone, recently released a newly redeveloped version of their vocal mixing system Nectar. Nectar 3 represents a huge leap forward in features and performance compared to previous versions of Nectar with version 3 including a cool… if not slightly predictable mode called the Vocal Assistant. We’ve seen “The Assistant” introduced in other iZotope products over the 18 months including Nectar and ozone, but is this kind of AI good in Nectar 3 or vocal mixing?
What’s New In Nectar 3?
For a full list of new features, specs and prices do check out our comprehensive Nectar 3 news article:
Of the new technologies introduced in Nectar 3, we check out a handful of what we consider to be headline features in our video test to give you an idea of what the new Vocal Assistant is capable of and to be able to hear the new Unmask feature in action.
Verdict - What Do We Think Of Nectar 3?
All-in-one vocal mixing chains have never really been my cup of tea as they tend to make some producers, myself included, believe as though we need a multitude of processors engaged inline in order to mix a vocal when in reality we only need a choice EQ and compressor to get vocals presented tastefully a mix. It’s all too easy to engage every single module in a GUI such as Nectar… only to wonder why our vocals sound over-processed after the fact… we’ve all been there… you know exactly what I’m getting at here! Luckily, Nectar 3 somehow doesn’t seem to tempt me into this style of vocal mixing as the new assistant actually does a lot of the heavy lifting for us, as you’ll hear in our video.
“The Assistant?” I hear you questioning at the back of the room… “Isn’t that cheating?” Yes and no. If you know exactly how to dial in a compressor and an EQ on a vocal track to get the results you are after then maybe Nectar 3 isn’t for you… but I recommend you look past the assistant feature if you want to discover the true value of Nectar 3. There’s plenty of amazing sounding modules that won’t leave you wanting for more.
Each of the modules are super simple to use and produce absolutely amazing results. The DeEsser is incredibly transparent, the saturation module is rich with tonal possibilities and the dimension section is great for adding modulative creative interest. What I’m getting at here is that the vocal assistant isn’t the only new feature in Nectar 3, in-fact, everything is new in Nectar 3 as iZotope completely redesigned it… all the better for it if you ask me!
Gone is iZotope’s attempt at pitch correction, in its place is a copy of Melodyne Essential which let’s be honest is one of the top industry standards for this type of processing. Melodyne isn’t incorporated into the Nectar 3 GUI, which is a good thing as it’ll hopefully discourage users from feeling as though every note within a vocal performance needs tuning to the nth degree.
I’ve been using Nectar 3 over the past week, I’ve really tried to find fault with it but there’s nothing I don’t like. It won’t be replacing what I consider to be my go to vocal mixing chain but it is certainly a mixing suite I can recommend to anyone who’s serious about vocal production, especially if those types of producers who struggle from time to time to get the best vocal sound in their mixes. Nectar 3 can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. The Assistant can either be relied on heavily or used like a set of mixing training wheels that can be discarded when your vocal mixing abilities have improved over time. The Assistant can also be used instead of the preset manager, which I think is a better application for it as, like in other iZotope products that have some kind of assistant, this smart machine learning AI can be used as a mixing starting point.
For users of previous versions of Nectar this latest version is an absolute no-brainer. For those who regularly mix within all-in-one style plug-in chain windows, Nectar 3 could very well be the best vocal mixing suite out there, it’s worth checking out. Download the demo and let us know what you think of Nectar 3.
Visit iZotope for more information about Nectar 3.